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White Paper-WH Gen Plan Recommendations

White Paper-WH Gen Plan Recommendations

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Published by Steve Weho Martin

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Published by: Steve Weho Martin on Nov 30, 2012
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12/04/2012

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WEST HOLLYWOOD NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCEGENERAL PLAN RECOMMENDATIONSPreambleThe West Hollywood General Plan process has stretched out for nearly four yearsand the current draft General Plan does not reflect the oft stated concerns of the residentsnor does it offer a vision for the future that is consistent with the goal of preserving WestHollywood’s “urban village.” Our vision must be as unique as our community.It has become clear that the Staff of the City of West Hollywood has a vision for the City that is at odds with the will of the residents. The current plan exacerbatesdensity, gridlock and urban blight without any enhancements that would make WestHollywood more livable. Indeed the current proposed General Plan does not reflect thestated “core values” of the City and makes a mockery of the reasons we incorporated as aCity in 1984.More importantly, the current proposals do not protect the character of our neighborhoods. It is, in fact, a blue print for the destruction of existing rental housingthat will result in the displacement of thousands of long-term residents and render manyof our neighborhoods unaffordable.The General Plan process was represented to be an opportunity for the communityto chart its own future. Instead the voice of the residents has been ignored, public participation sabotaged and open debate throttled. We will not enumerate the numerouscomplaints about the process as those abuses are well documented. It will suffice to saythat the current General Plan process has been disappointing and duplicitous and does notreflect positively upon the management and elected officials of West Hollywood.We, as residents of West Hollywood, having participated in the General Plan process only to see our concerns and hopes for the future ignored, offer the followingrecommendations in a final attempt to forge a General Plan that balances the need for economic growth with the need to protect our community from thoughtless and shortsighted development. We demand a General Plan that includes all current residents inWest Hollywood’s long-term future and that is consistent with our community’s corevalues.Commercial DevelopmentStatement of Values:Commercial development in West Hollywood shouldenhance the pedestrian character of the City and maintain the “urban village” character of our community. Focus should be on low rise, human scale development that providesopportunities for the creation and preservation of unique, neighborhood serving businesses.
 
1.No expansion of commercial zones into residential areas.2.Heights along Santa Monica Boulevard should be limited to 35 feet for atleast 85% of the Boulevard; additional heights for mixed use buildings where theresidential units are entirely affordable may be entitled to additional height.3.Heights along Melrose should be limited to 25 feet.4.Mixed Use buildings should not be permitted in areas where residentialhousing would conflict with existing nighttime entertainment venues such as nightclubsand bars. West Hollywood’s economic vibrancy depends upon its nightlife and historyhas shown that residential development abutting entertainment venues is not good urban planning.5.Due to the incompatible nature, mixed use is not appropriate and shouldnot be permitted along Sunset Boulevard outside of the Sunset Specific sites.6.While we support efforts to bring a subway and enhanced publictransportation to our City, the “Transit Overlay” bonuses should be eliminated and can berevisited in the event that a subway or light rail system is actually built on Santa MonicaBoulevard.7.The Plan must recognize that the majority of commercial parcels alongSanta Monica Boulevard are narrow and cannot support large scale development; those parcels were established when the Red Car existed and when parking was not a major challenge. The City should specifically designate certain intersections where the designof the commercial thoroughfares makes development problematic due to limitations ontraffic circulation, such as Crescent Heights south of Santa Monica, Sunset and LaCienega and Sunset and Horn. Zoning needs to be tailored to realistically accommodatetraffic. Developments should not be approved unless mitigations such as signalization or added turn-lanes can appreciably lessen the impact of the additional traffic.8.Bonuses under the Sunset Specific Plan should be limited to the intent of the original document, only to be given when the entire target site is developed. If notspecified, heights on Sunset should be limited to 35 feet. The City should make a formaldetermination whether the Sunset Specific Plan has already reached the entitled capacityin terms of allowable square footage under the Plan before any new project is approvedunder the SSP.9.Before additional billboards are approved for the Sunset Strip, aninventory of existing billboards should be taken and recommendations should be made bya community task force to insure that the area is not overwhelmed by visual blight, andthat new billboards do not substantially reduce the visibility of existing tall walls and billboards. Development agreements that provide additional revenue to the City in returnfor allowing billboard construction should be mandatory but should be a standard percent
 
of income based upon the size of the sign face. No development agreement allowing for new billboards should provide for additional heights or densities to the developer.10.Parking requirements should not be loosened by use of unproven parkingstrategies such as “shared parking” or “parking unbundling.”11.Solar panels should be required for all new construction over two storiesand all new municipal and commercial developments.12.An enforceable noise ordinance needs to be incorporated into the GeneralPlan that has objective and measureable standards to effectuate enforcement.13.“Statements overriding consideration” should be stated in specific detailwith measureable standards. Simply, statements in general and conclusionary terms shall be deemed insufficient for purposes of responding to any Environmental Impact Report(EIR).14.“Green Construction” shall be mandatory in commercial and residentialdevelopments and all “incentives” for complying with the City’s ordinance shall beeliminated.15.Development Agreements in general should only be entered into whenthey provide extraordinary benefit to the City. The City should establish standards for development agreements with objective criteria to safeguard the integrity of the GeneralPlan and existing zoning. Development agreements should also be subject to a vote of the residents.Residential DevelopmentStatement of Values:Development should be respectful of the nature of our neighborhoods and should enhance the architectural character and enrich theenvironmental quality of our residential neighborhoods. Protecting and maintaining our stock of existing housing that is affordable to working people should be a major priorityof the General Plan. Protection of existing residents should always be a goal. TheGeneral Plan should include revisions of existing building codes in order to conform tothe goal of protecting and enhancing our residential areas.1.Any development of over six units must include affordable housing onsite; in lieu fees for smaller developments must be reviewed to insure that the feeaccurately reflects the costs of building affordable units.2.Parking standards should not be loosened except for affordable housing.The tandem parking spaces should be eliminated (with possible exceptions for lowincome developments). Guest parking must reflect the actual parking conditions of eachneighborhood. Parking must not be “unbundled.”

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