Community was left out of Raman’s housing plan

| July 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

CATHEDRAL CHAPEL SCHOOL is directly across the street from the proposed narrow housing site.

A narrow Miracle Mile parking lot has been suggested as a possible location for some form of affordable housing by Councilmember Nithya Raman. The proposal has drawn concern from a nearby school, residents and the business community.

Raman filed a motion last month to redevelop the 41-car city parking lot at 728 Cochran Avenue for permanent affordable housing and/or 100 percent affordable housing.

“It’s hard to understand how she brought forth the motion without talking to the local folks,” says Stephen Kramer, president of the Greater Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce (GMMCC).

He first heard of the proposal a few weeks earlier and was not contacted by the council office.

“I understand the tensions between housing and parking and other uses, and they are all valid, but the parking in the whole Miracle Mile area is appalling,” added Kramer.

The Miracle Mile was built with huge department stores on Wilshire Boulevard with parking in the rear, but those parcels are all apartments now, Kramer said.

While Kramer is a fan and a rider of public transportation, the city is not poised to let go of cars just yet, he added.

The Cochran Avenue public parking lot is the last public lot he knows of in the area. “This is the only game in town in the Miracle Mile.”

“This is not a good idea for the neighborhood, and it is very close to the school,” said Tina Kipp, principal of Cathedral Chapel School.

Besides safety for the school’s children and for nuns at a retirement home, both directly across Cochran from the lot, Kipp said the project is poised for a hyper-swift movement forward, as developers might be recruited to review the site in 45 days. “That’s a huge concern. They said they would have subterranean parking. We’re not really sure what they will do,” said Kipp.

The lot serves as the sole parking option for the K-8 elementary school (established in 1930) as well as for patrons of Wilshire Boulevard businesses and area residents.

“Parking is an issue. All the street parking is restricted. But more than that, it’s the safety, and that we were not consulted,” said Kipp.

Kipp actually had asked Raman at a Greater Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce meeting in May about the proposed project.

According to an article in the June issue of the Larchmont Chronicle, “During the Q&A portion [of the GMMCC meeting], concerns arose about a rumored homeless shelter site on a city public parking lot across from Cathedral Chapel School on S. Cochran.

“Raman explained that no such project had been approved yet, but promised to look into the matter and work together with any business affected by future site locations.”

According to Kipp, the councilmember said at the chamber meeting that she would get back to her, but never did.

Raman did eventually meet with school and church officials on June 15, but the motion had already been filed that morning, said Kipp.

Raman said she would forward a fact sheet to the school about the project, but that too has not been received as of press time.


“Ms. Raman has spoken about co-governance and transparency, but she did not reach out to the neighborhood to, at a minimum, explore the pros and cons of her proposal,” says Greg Goldin, president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA).

“The MMRA,” he added, “in no way opposes 100 percent affordable housing or supportive housing. We just want to be sure that there is community input from the onset. … How can the City conduct a feasibility study without community input? Isn’t the community voice part of what makes a project feasible?

“In addition, we are very concerned that the Cathedral Chapel School is almost directly across the street from the site Ms. Raman wishes to consider, and we very much want the school to have its concerns fully addressed in any feasibility study that might be conducted.  We are also aware that nearby businesses and residents depend on this parking lot, and we would want their needs addressed.”

The school lost a parking lot behind Kinko’s due to development already, Kipp said, “so we don’t have any other choices for parking except the street, which has so many restrictions.

“There has been no consultation on the part of the councilwoman’s office with the school community, the Guadalupana Sisters who live in the retirement facility next to the school on 8th Street, the neighbors on Cochran Avenue, or the Miracle Mile Residential Association. This is a grave concern that our voices have not been heard at this point. This motion should not go forward until she has heard the concerns from her constituents,” Kipp said.

Raman’s motion

Raman’s motion directs city staff to study the feasibility of redeveloping the Cochran site and one at 1905 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood with affordable housing.

These sites would include built-in supportive services and be for people experiencing homelessness or for affordable housing. Depending on the findings, the City Administrative Officer will begin the process of initiating a request for proposals.

Concurrently, Raman has also introduced a motion which, if adopted, would direct the Planning Department, Housing Department and Department of Building and Safety to develop a plan to streamline the approval of 100 percent affordable housing projects citywide. She suggests five strategies for speeding approval times, including modifying site plan review thresholds (which are currently imposed on projects with 50 or more residential units or 50,000 square feet of floor area) and shortening appeal periods.

“We’ve seen over and over the real barriers affordable housing developers face in this city,” said Raman in a Tweet.

“If we want more affordable housing, we must make it easier and faster to build.”

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