Announcing that he was glad to be back where he attended junior high school (and noting that everything in the auditorium seems smaller than he remembers), Councilman David E. Ryu opened a special town hall meeting attended by approximately 175 people in the John Burroughs Middle School auditorium on Feb. 22.
Because the meeting’s topic was the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) proposed for the single-family and multi-family residential areas south of Wilshire Blvd. (see the map in Section 3, page 12), and because that has become a contentious issue with a number of residents, moderator Kiara Nagel outlined four ground rules for the meeting, for which she sought and received concurrence from the attendees: (1) Be respectful; (2) Don’t interrupt when others are talking; (3) Listen to understand; and (4) Be open to hearing new information.
Ryu seeks more input
Councilman Ryu stated that he has been hearing from both supporters and opponents of the proposed HPOZ. He said the purpose of the evening’s meeting was to continue seeking residents’ input, as he recently has done through letters sent to residents and property owners and as he and his staff are doing by reviewing correspondence received at the office. Councilman Ryu said he would come to his own conclusion about what to advocate to his City Council colleagues within two weeks and that he also would announce his views to the community at that time.
Bernstein: history, facts
The next speaker was Principal City Planner and Director of the Office of Historic Resources (OHR), Ken Bernstein, who gave a PowerPoint presentation. He detailed the early 2014 origination of residents’ requests to Councilman LaBonge and to the city to study designating the community as an HPOZ, and he recounted the three-year process, including many public meetings, culminating in the Dec. 2016 action of the City Planning Commission (CPC) to approve the HPOZ but to change the boundaries that previously had been approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission.
During Mr. Bernstein’s presentation, cards with written questions from the audience were collected and sorted. The questions were answered by a panel consisting of Councilman Ryu, city planner Bernstein and planner Renata Dragland from OHR. Many questions already had been answered during the Bernstein presentation, and a number of questions concerned the CPC’s boundary changes that removed many properties from the HPOZ.
Public comments: 23-23
Public comments, limited to one minute each, came next. About 46 people lined up, with the comments evenly split, about 23 in favor of the HPOZ and 23 opposed.
By this point in the evening, some in the audience, dwindling a bit by that time, had forgotten ground rules numbers 1 and 2, and there were some catcalls and outbursts, primarily from the “No HPOZ” partisans. Earlier in the meeting, one of them had refused to follow the additional guideline of not holding signs so they would block the view of people behind, and a Ryu staff member’s reminder being of no avail, LAPD Wilshire Division Senior Lead Officer Dave Cordova walked over to remind the No HPOZ partisan to comply.
The CPC’s recommendation is expected to be heard in the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee in time for the matter to reach the full City Council before expiration of the two-year Interim Control Ordinance on March 25.
A comprehensive account of the lengthy Town Hall meeting, written by Liz Fuller, is on the Larchmont Buzz. Go to: