Neighborhood Council opposes Larchmont project

| February 29, 2024 | 0 Comments

507 N. LARCHMONT BLVD. apartment project proposed as “100 percent affordable” has outraged neighbors because it also appears designed to include six floors with higher-priced “market-rate” units, all with no on-site parking.

‘Bait and switch’ housing is not 100 percent affordable

Why are so many local residents up in arms about a proposed seven-story apartment building on a narrow lot at 507 N. Larchmont Blvd.?

Concern about this project generated a huge turnout of concerned residents at the Jan. 23 meeting of the Land Use Committee of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC). Committee chair Brian Curran managed the very civil discourse of comments pro (the distinct minority) and con. The crux of complaints was that the community planning protections long in place were being waived to create a “100 percent affordable” project of small studio units — but that the project developer allegedly would later sneak in a dozen, much-larger, expensive market-rate units.

LAND USE COMMITEE CHAIR Brian Curran, speaking at corner of the table, calls on those who wish to testify.

STANDING-ROOM-ONLY audience participated in the GWNC Land Use Committee meeting, held Jan. 23 at Marlborough School .

GWNC opposes

The Land Use Committee adopted a motion to recommend to the full board of directors that it “take action to voice its strong support for 100 percent affordable housing projects in the neighborhood and to further oppose this project at 507 N. Larchmont Boulevard until such time as questions about the project raised in this Motion, including but not limited to the lawful bases for the proposed project height, zero parking and claim of 100 percent affordable housing, are satisfactorily answered.”

That motion was taken up at the subsequent meeting of the GWNC board of directors on Feb. 14. Members of the board expressed support for affordable housing while objecting to “secret” units and “bait and switch” techniques in projects that utilize the “100 percent affordable” waivers and benefits, but then sneak lucrative, non-“affordable” units into those projects. The board adopted the motion presented and put GWNC on record as opposing the 507 N. Larchmont project as presented to the city.

FLOOR PLAN shows eight “affordable” studio apartments, of approximately 325 square feet each, at the west (left) end on the second through seventh floors of the proposed building. Also shown for each of those six floors are two large “recreation rooms” facing Larchmont Boulevard (at right).

As the accompanying illustrations show, the developer proposed building a “100 percent affordable” building, with seven floors of residential units. On each of the top six of those floors, the developer’s plans show eight studio apartment units of approximately 325 square feet each. But also on each floor are two “recreation rooms” of more than 500 square feet each. That would be a lot of exercise equipment for a landlord to buy! But that seemingly is not the intention. The intention seems to be to bait with 100 percent affordability and then switch to 75 percent affordability by adding a dozen market-rate, likely fairly expensive, one-bedroom units that have the best light and views overlooking the Boulevard.

ONE-BEDROOM market-rate units look to be the developer’s goal for its not-really-100-percent-affordable project at 507 N. Larchmont. Shown is a concept sketch of what could result by converting a floor’s two “recreation rooms” to dwelling units.

The longer accompanying drawing shows the applicant’s typical floor plan for the second through seventh floors. The smaller drawing is a detail — showing one way that the two “recreation rooms” on each floor could become one-bedroom market-rate apartments.

Some people say, “Why do you care; doesn’t it build more needed housing?” Most who are upset with this 507 N. Larchmont project would answer that they care because rules are being broken; promises (100 percent affordable housing) are not being kept; and that condoning such deception is no way to run a civilized society. Certainly, if the extra “recreation rooms” were not stuffed in, the “100 percent affordable” building could provide its 52 units of studio apartments at lower height, thereby being less offensive to adjoining homeowners.

But that was not what this developer proposed, and that is a reason that neighbors are upset and that the board of the GWNC has gone on record as opposing the 507 N. Larchmont Blvd. project.

In response to a Feb. 23 query from the Chronicle about the developer’s application, a City Planning Dept. representative replied: “The project continues to be incomplete and on hold.”

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