City planners tour Wilshire neighborhoods

| November 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

PHOTOS on the office windows showed city planners some Larchmont Boulevard changes, such as the demolition of five shops to create the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot.

Periodically, staff members of the city’s Dept. of City Planning head out of City Hall on field trips. A recent October foray was “Planning Day 2018 — Arts and Culture, Westlake Wilshire,” where about 40 staff members visited those two community plan areas, including a number of stops in and around Larchmont.

The planners enjoyed viewing multiple local neighborhoods from the roof of the El Royale Apartments on Rossmore Ave. Then, walking through the Larchmont Village residential area, they came to the Boulevard and made a lunch stop in the new upstairs real estate offices of Pacific Union.

There, the company’s associate manager of the office, Bret Parsons, welcomed the planners. City planning associate and tour organizer Jeff Khau then introduced two locals, Heather Duffy Boylston and John H. Welborne, to talk about Larchmont Boulevard zoning issues and related matters.

“Q” conditions

Boylston, co-executive director of the Larchmont Village Business Improvement District (BID), described how landlords have encountered numerous challenges since 1991, when the street’s commercial zoning was restricted through the adoption of “Q” conditions. She said that the restrictions are matters that landlords hope to see reviewed and addressed by city planners.

Welborne, a member of the board of directors of the Larchmont Boulevard Association (LBA) and vice president of the Windsor Square Association (WSA) agreed with Boylston that fine-tuning of the “Q” conditions is needed.

He explained to the planners that the LBA and WSA had worked in the 1980s with city planners and then-Councilman John Ferraro to address a then-new state law requiring that zoning and general plan designations be conformed. Also, Welborne recounted, under the leadership of retired Los Angeles County Planning Director Norman Murdoch, then a WSA board member, the LBA and WSA sought to address changes that were taking away the “neighborhood retail” feel of Larchmont Boulevard.

At the time, there was particular concern about proliferating real estate offices and banks, said Welborne. He pointed to illustrations on the walls showing how five beloved stores were demolished when Wells Fargo took over the former Citizens Bank location and built a parking lot. “Only Chevalier’s remains,” he said of the neighborhood bookstore, “having moved down the block to Charlotte Lipson’s building.”

Participating in this Planning Day was local resident and Director of Planning Vince Bertoni, who thanked the local presenters. The group then boarded a bus to stay on schedule for its tour of the nearby Park Mile, with a stop at the Marciano Art Foundation’s adaptively reused former Scottish Rite building.

CITY PLANNERS visited the neighborhood, and Bret Parsons, at left, was host during a lunch stop at the new Pacific Union real estate office above the former hardware store.

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