Projects fast-tracked at area expense?

| January 25, 2024 | 0 Comments

A SEVEN-STORY “100 percent affordable” residential building proposed for 507 N. Larchmont Blvd. actually may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing that really is designed to include six floors of expensive market-rate units, all with no on-site parking.

507 N. Larchmont Blvd. and 800 Lorraine Blvd.

Breaking news: At press time for this issue, our editors heard disturbing rumors that the allegedly “100 percent affordable” project proposed to replace a single-story bungalow on “Upper Larchmont” at 507 N. Larchmont Blvd. is not that at all. Not “100 percent affordable.”

More information was due to be revealed at the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) Land Use Committee meeting scheduled for Jan. 23, when this issue of the paper already was at the printer. The disclosures follow a careful review by neighbors of the plans and drawings that the development company, 507 N. Larchmont LLC, submitted to the City of Los Angeles Planning Dept. while seeking the special benefits available from Mayor Karen Bass’ Executive Directive 1 (ED1) plus adopted Assembly Bill 1763 (AB 1763).

Receipt of those benefits that waive many long-standing local zoning protections is predicated upon 100 percent of the constructed residential units in the project (supposedly 52 small studio apartments of about 325 square feet each) being available for rents that meet “affordable” guidelines.

However, it looks like this developer actually may plan to construct 64 (not 52) units, with 12 of the units being much larger than the small “affordable” studios. The bigger units, two per floor on floors 2 through 7, would have balconies fronting on Larchmont Boulevard. The developer could make those units available for rent or sale at whatever market prices customers will pay.

ONE-STORY BUNGALOW, in center, may be demolished and replaced with a seven-story building next to the circa 1930s three-story apartment building at right.

Email alert

This newspaper and residents of Larchmont Village and nearby neighbors were alerted to the possibility of there being these “secret” market-rate units through an email message sent on January 20 by Larchmont Village resident Sam Uretsky, co-founder of Lucerne Arden United. Uretsky wrote:

“In reviewing the plans for 507 N. Larchmont [see plans at — 21 pages; takes time to load], there are 13 spaces labeled as Recreation Areas (RA) … They are the choice spaces included in the project plans and represent approximately 25% or less of the project.

“Recreation Areas are ‘non-essential spaces.’ What does that mean for 507? Here’s what you need to know:

“Once the overall plan for 507 is approved as an ED1 project, and as early as the next business day:

“1. The developers are able to revise plans.

“2. For 100 percent affordable housing plans, as 507 purports to be, the developers can apply under State law to convert up to 25% of the project, comprised of ‘non-essential space,’ to ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) and sell them as condominiums (or rent them) at market rates.

“3. Does the project at 507 N. Larchmont Blvd. propose to exploit ED1, Larchmont [Village] and the entire Greater Wilshire community under the false pretense of building 100 percent affordable housing? We can find no other explanation for the developer’s planned thirteen ‘Recreation Areas.’”

Analysis of units

The City Planning Dept. has been fast-tracking the now questionable “100 percent affordable” seven-story housing development proposed for a narrow lot now the site of a one-story bungalow. The plans show 52 small dwelling units. What about the two spacious “Recreation Rooms” on each of floors 2 through 7, shown prominently in the building plans, each with plumbing, each on the street end of the building? In all, there are 12 “Recreation Rooms” that actually are the spaces in the building with the most light and the best views. What is really happening with this application under ED1? Is the presentation to the city a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Not the only ED1 project

Another project, at 800 Lorraine Blvd. in Windsor Village, is on a similar trajectory for 70 “affordable” units in a six-story building. Those plans don’t appear to show any potential “secret” units, however. At the moment, also at press time, city processing of that Lorraine Blvd. project is on temporary hold because of community outcry.

The projects were both submitted to the City of Los Angeles Planning Dept. in December under Mayor Bass’ ED1. Issued to help deal with the city’s housing crisis, the ED1 directive offers waivers and incentives under state and city density bonus programs to build affordable housing quickly. Besides adding height, these projects include reduced setbacks and no parking.

Under the mayor’s program, after an initial review by the City Planning Dept., a 100-percent affordable housing development can go forward with “ministerial approval” in 60 days with no public hearings, input or review.

“All ED1 cases filed with the Planning Department must receive a Letter of Consistency after being deemed complete. The department is currently in the process of issuing Letters of Correction / Hold Letters for both projects [on Larchmont and Lorraine], as they are missing information necessary for continued processing. Once the cases are deemed complete, the Planning Department has 60 days to issue a Letter of Consistency. ED1 projects are ministerial projects, and are not subject to CEQA [the California Environmental Quality Act],” according to a spokesperson at the City Planning Dept.

SIX STORIES are proposed in the Windsor Village HPOZ at 800 Lorraine Boulevard at Eighth Street.

800 Lorraine

In the Windsor Village Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (parts of which, including this parcel, are subject to additional “Q Condition” restrictions, such as relating to building height), the Windsor Village Association has formally registered its objections to the proposal on Lorraine, board President Barbara Pflaumer told us.

The six-story apartment building on Lorraine is proposed for what is currently an empty lot. The project includes 24 studios and 46 one-bedroom units. Most are low-income units; 14 are moderate income; and one is a manager’s unit. There are zero setbacks on the street sides of the corner-lot building.


The project on Larchmont also has rallied the community in opposition.

“Thanks to the many, many of you who asked what you can do to help defeat this project! The answer is to organize, speak with one voice and make it known in each and every forum to each and every city official and agency that has allowed this project to be proposed that you will not stand for this project going forward,” Uretsky wrote in a previous email blast.

“507 is the result of a poorly thought out and poorly written Mayoral Executive Directive used by opportunistic developers with the apparent encouragement of a City Planning Department intent on destabilizing stable neighborhoods and remaking them in what I would characterize as a dystopian construct,” Uretsky told us. “What is particularly stupid here is that Larchmont is not just the single-family neighborhood now anathema to this generation of ‘planners’ (emphasis deliberate). Larchmont has a large component of multi-family properties and is, in fact, quite a diverse neighborhood.”

The 507 N. Larchmont project, based on a review by the Windsor Square Association (WSA), actually does not qualify for the requested bonuses, because the property is not located within one half mile of a major transit stop, despite the parcel’s tentative Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) designation by the city. 

Even projects that qualify for TOC benefits only are allowed three additional stories on top of the current three-story limit, for a maximum total of six stories. “In short, we don’t understand how these developers can lawfully receive the waivers and incentives they request for this building,” the WSA wrote in an email to its membership.

The proposed 30,330- square-foot mixed-use building on Larchmont includes 845 square feet of ground-floor retail. Also featured are a rooftop deck, balconies on the east and west sides, and almost no setbacks to the north and south. The developers claim no parking is required for this building. 

No parking?

“Where will all the residents’ vehicles be parked?” WSA asked in an email.

“The project’s 100 percent level of affordable housing is excellent and welcome. However, the size and features of the project, at this location next to single-family residential, is unlawful and inappropriate.”

[This WSA email was sent prior to the Jan. 20 Uretsky email about the “secret” market-rate units. — Ed.]

The WSA email continued: “We strongly support the long-standing need for affordable housing in Los Angeles, which the city has ignored and allowed to fester for decades. There is ample and available space throughout Los Angeles to build our much-needed affordable housing that does not require the destruction of the integrity of our single- and multi-family Greater Wilshire neighborhoods.”

Charlie D’Atri, president of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association, told the Chronicle, “We have not taken a position on those two developments as yet. I can say Larchmont Village has always historically been multi-family housing friendly. In recent years, we’ve welcomed hundreds of new housing units as anyone who’s walked or driven through our northeast part of the Greater Wilshire neighborhood can attest.  For well over a year we have been a part of a multi-neighborhood, multi-stakeholder effort to create a neighborhood-friendly plan to create many more housing units in buildings which will reflect the live / work historic nature of North Larchmont Boulevard. The particular developer in question for 507 N. Larchmont Blvd. has made no effort to reach out to us prior to filing this plan.”

Uretsky adds: “Here’s another real concern: infrastructure. No improvements or upgrades to existing infrastructure are required. Our neighborhood already suffers from LADWP inadequacies. We barely have street lighting. Water mains break regularly. Stormwater run-off handling is inadequate.  Power stability during weather events is already tenuous. Let’s not forget a century-old sewer system. Who’s planning to upgrade these critical resources? Oh, nobody!”

By Suzan Filipek and John Welborne

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Category: News

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