Ass'yman Lowenthal Views Proposed Woodruff Ave. Townhouse Site, Meets Carson Park Residents, Will Try To Facilitate Negotiation Process With Developer
(July 12, 2003) -- LB Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal made a July 11 visit to the site of a proposed townhouse development at 3800 Woodruff Ave @ Harco St., met with Carson Park Community Group members who seek to reduce the project's proposed density, viewed the surrounding neighborhood...and indicated he will communicate with elected officials in an effort to facilitate a negotiation process between the neighborhood group and the developer, Anatasi Development Co.
Assemblyman Lowenthal, who also agreed to take a look at the housing element that was submitted to to the state, began by meeting with Carson Park Community Group members, then walked several blocks through the surrounding neighborhood and viewed its single family homes.
Grassroots signs were visible along the route.
On arriving at the site, homeowners carried signs amplifying the message.
Some displayed fliers.
After viewing the site, Assemblyman Lowenthal (center) summed up by saying to Ms. Kimball (left): "So you want me to speak to the elected officials to share your desire to negotiate and to communicate and you need some process by which to do that...[and] to look at the zoning and the housing element that was turned into the state." Ms. Kimball replied, "Exactly."
The developer proposes 88 dwelling units in 27 residential bldgs. (plus a recreation bldg.) on a 3.79 acre L-shaped parcel along the south side and back (east side) of the existing medical building. In December '02, the L.A. County Regional Planning Commission approved the project with the density sought by the developer.
The City of LB, via a Dec. 2002 letter from Planning & Bldg. Dir Eugene Zeller, had urged the County Planning Comm'n. to reduce the project's density for consistency with the surrounding ELB single family residential neighborhood. The site is part of an unincorporated L.A. County "island" extending a few blocks east of Woodruff Ave...which gives the County, not LB City Hall, decisionmaking power over the project. The Carson Park group has vowed to appeal the County Planning Commission's approval to the County Board of Supervisors.
Prior to today's events, Anastasi released a written statement regarding its proposed project. It states in pertinent part:
Common Planning practice promotes transitional "buffer zones" between lower density residential and intensive use commercial properties, and we feel the project site at 3800 Woodruff Ave. fits that description perfectly. It will provide the transition between the adjacent single family homes and the 4 story commercial site while maintaining the integrity of the family neighborhood.
With land availability being what it is, this direction of development is what Anastasi Development is committed to and is essential to providing quality homes for employees of nearby businesses that support the local economy.
After meeting with the representative neighborhood group, adjustments were made within the project to accommodate every issue they had except for density and we are able to demonstrate that those issues can be resolved without lowering the number of units. County Planning had already completed their studies and determined that there would be no or less than significant impacts on traffic, schools, and other related issues.
LBReport.com has posted Anastasi's statement in full at Anastasi statement.
Last month, Assemblyman Lowenthal accepted an invitation from the Carson Park Community Group to view the site after group leaders brought the issue to his attention at a June ELB "meet the Assemblyman" event.
Assemblyman Lowenthal has had a long time interest in housing issues. In 1992, he won election to the LB City Council by ousting an incumbent, fueled in part by neighborhood anger over Council-approved increases in density and "crackerbox" multi-unit (mainly apartment) developments that destabilized central LB residential neighborhoods.
Today, Assemblyman Lowenthal serves in the state legislature and chairs the Assembly's Housing and Community Development Committee. He is also a member of the Assembly's "smart growth" caucus, a legislative policy group focusing on housing and growth issues statewide.
We asked Assemblyman Lowenthal if he thinks the development as proposed is too dense. He gave us this extemporaneous response while walking back to his car:
I think that the neighbors make a strong case for sitting down and really negotiating this with the developer...People are talking about making sure there's adequate green space, making sure the development is not three story. There's nothing in this neighborhood that's three story. I'd be willing to hear Anastasi...I do think what they propose is much too dense, but that doesn't mean that if they [Anastasi] met all the neighbors' concerns that it could not [be made neighborhood-consistent].
On June 3, Ms. Kimball came to the LB City Council seeking assistance from Mayor Beverly O'Neill and 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell. After thanking City Hall for its letter from Planning & Bldg. Dir. Zeller urging reduced project density, Ms. Kimabll reminded Councilwoman Kell that she had campaigned for office with the slogan "our neighborhoods always come first."
Councilwoman Kell, whose neighborhoods include homeowners immediately across Woodruff Ave. from the project (and surrounding the larger County island), said that if the project were in the city of LB it would not proceed...but in view of its location on County land, she advised the Carson Park group to take their complaints to the County.
County Supervisor Don Knabe has used his office to facilitate dialog before the controversy escalates to the Board...but the Carson Park group says there's been no movement since a March meeting of the parties.
Today's event was the first at which signs were visible urging greater assistance from Councilwoman Kell and Supervisor Knabe. (Sign at foreground center says, "Where's Kell and Knabe?")
In May, the group held a community meeting that drew roughly 275 concerned residents, including ELB constituents.
June, 2003: Woodruff Ave. Townhouse Development Controversy Hits LB City Council
May, 2003: Overflow Crowd Packs Carson Park Community Group Meeting, Seeks Less Density In Woodruff Ave. Townhome Development
Dec. 2002: On ELB's Doorstep: Developer Proposes 88 Condo Units (27 Residential Bldgs. + 1 Rec. Bldg.) At 3780-3800 Woodruff @ Harco In Unincorporated L.A. County Area