Lorraine tower okayed to go ahead by City Planning Department

| June 27, 2024 | 0 Comments

SIX-STORY apartment building approved for erection by City Planning, right next to single-family homes on Lorraine Boulevard in the Windsor Village HPOZ. Rendering from Kevin Tsai Architecture

The City Planning Dept. gave the go-ahead to the owner / developer of a controversial six-story building last month, pending compliance with conditions that include a maximum 64 total units with 51 of those for low-income households.

The project, at 800 Lorraine Boulevard, is located in the Windsor Village Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ). Its height and density would have been prohibited prior to the mayor’s Executive Directive 1 (ED1), which speeds construction of 100-percent affordable housing to address the city’s homelessness crisis.

Developer / owner Nima Montazeri received a June 14 Letter of Compliance to construct the project on what is now a vacant, formerly single-family, corner lot.

“Public hearings are not required for ED 1 projects. The Letter of Compliance for this project has been issued, and it does not have an appeal period,” a Planning Dept. spokesperson said in an email to the Chronicle.

Architect and nearby resident, John Kaliski, FAIA, said of the approval of the Lorraine project: “I am very disappointed that the City is not more rigorous in its interpretation of the existing Windsor Village Preservation Plan. There are many quantifiable standards in this plan that are not being enforced. State law clearly allows this enforcement. If the plan was enforced, this would be a very different and maybe even welcome project.” Kaliski also is a former board member of the Windsor Village HPOZ.

Because the project is within one-half mile of a major transit stop (Wilshire and Crenshaw), it received a height increase of up to three stories, according to the 45-page Letter of Compliance.

The project was allowed five incentives and one waiver, which included a 66.7 percent reduction of the required northerly side yard from nine feet to three.

After the 64-unit project was deemed complete on April 18, the City had 60 days to issue the Letter of Compliance.

The Kevin Tsai Architecture-designed, Brown Stone Capital, project includes studio and one-bedroom units and zero on-site parking. It was approved as a 100-percent affordable housing project.

Interim control?

Partly in response to this project, Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky in April introduced a City Council motion requesting a citywide Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) that would put the brakes on these types of projects in single-family neighborhoods and the city’s 35 HPOZs. The ICO motion is expected to go before the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee prior to a final vote on the proposal by the full City Council. No hearing dates have been set.

Where is ED 1 now?

Community groups have been hopeful the mayor would revise her Executive Directive to close loopholes and stem streamlining for projects that are out of character with neighborhoods.

But now, however, the tide seems to be turning towards YIMBY housing groups who are “pushing to codify ED 1 with no concern for guidelines that — without adding them — can negatively impact our communities, environment, and the people who will lose rent stabilized units,” leaders of United Neighbors wrote in a June 12 email to communities across the city.

The coalition of neighborhood residential groups is encouraging members of the community to send letters to their representatives on the City Council.

“We feel the best use of everyone’s time is sending thousands of letters in support of guidelines, again to three important players,” the group wrote to area residents. They are your council member, PLUM Chair Marqueese Harris-Dawson and PLUM members Imelda Padilla, John Lee, Katy Yaroslavsky and Heather Hutt.

A sample letter encourages common sense guidelines that “will allow ED 1 projects that are worth an expedited fast-track planning approval while more problematic projects will require discretionary review.

“Adding more affordable housing does not have to come at the cost of protecting our communities, environment and rent stabilized housing.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Real Estate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *