Meeting Date: 03/02/06 07:00 PM
Meeting Type: Regular
Location: Mulholland Tennis Club
2555 Crest View Drive
directions at themtc.org or call the tennis club at 323-654-0550
free parking in the lot, disabled access from upper parking lot
Details: Area 9 Agenda
1. Call to Order/Introductions
2. Chair Report
3. Woodstock Rd. Repair
4. Woodstock abandoned houses/Willow Glen repair
5. 7506 Willow Glen
6. Bulwer Drive development and road construction
7. Big Sunday
8. Public comment
(5 minute break)
8. Open Area 9 Secretary position
9. Area 9 committees/Area 9 future agenda
AREA COMMITTEE #9
BRIAR SUMMIT/WOODROW WILSON/MULHOLLAND DRIVE
MEETING MINUTES FOR MARCH 2, 2006
In attendance: Denise Gautier, Joan Bilis, Karon Crosby, Neil Norman, Joe Beaver, David Thornton, Bobbi Stoll, Mimi Starwell, Patrick McKinley, Tom O’Rourke, Tim Braseth, Verna Cornelius, Jim Slack, Don Duckworth, Kyle & Arianne Lowder, Joe & Joann Leonard, Leopold de Beck, Victor Martinez, Neil Beecher, Vern Richards, Harriet Schneidman, Wendy Dytman, Orrin Feldman, Hilary DeVries, Kevin Marder, Jeff Kaufman, Adriane Baird, Marjorie Threm, Perla Eston, Georg Egloff, Elizabeth Bjorklund, Klaus and Gabrielle Brill, Albert Morrell, Jeannie Lim, Joni Rim, Stuart Ross, John Pogue and Erik Sanjurjo, Renee Weitzer and Don Mensman (from Council Member Tom LaBonge’s office)
John Pogue called the meeting to order at 7:18 pm. He explained the meeting’s procedure: to cover the items on the agenda until 8:30 p.m.- at which point the group will take a break for coffee and cake. After 8:30, those interested in discussing other concerns and volunteering for committees can stay and do so.
I. WOODSTOCK RD.
Erik Sanjurjo from Council Member Tom LaBonge’s office reported on the progress to repair Woodstock Rd. He said that they will be talking again to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) who needs to sign off and release the funds. Wendy Dytman mentioned that she elicited Congressman’s Howard Berman’s help in pressing the FHWA in D.C. to expedite the release of the funds for repairs. Erik believes that the repairs will take 2-3 months to complete and then the city will repave ALL of Woodstock. He also promised that Willow Glen would be entirely repaved after July (the money is coming out of next year’s budget which funds in July). Someone asked if Woodstock would be widened where it’s being repaired and Erik said it would. Also, a blind curve will be corrected so driving the road will be less treacherous.
A few people asked about the water run-off on lower Willow Glen that happens with every rain, and Erik said that the DOT will look at it and try to solve the problem (maybe with a berm). A few neighbors asked for additional stop signs or speed bumps to slow the thru traffic that speeds through the neighborhood, but Erik said that is another process. You must make a request from DOT and they do a study to determine necessity. A suggestion was to try to get the police out to ticket drivers who speed by having the affected neighbors call the police dept.
II. THE YEHUDA HOUSES:
John Pogue next addressed the five abandoned houses on the Northwest side of Mt. Olympus, which will be referred to as “the Yehuda houses”. Renee Weitzer from Council Member LaBonge’s office said that in her 25 years of working in Planning, she had never seen as much development as was currently taking place in the Hills. Because of the market being so high, land that was previously thought to be unbuildable is now begin developed because the investment made to build on the land can be returned by high asking prices. According to Renee Weitzer, the new developer of this parcel originally wanted to build 25 homes, but the city was able to block that by forcing them to do an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Now the new owners are looking to build five homes but want to build them without doing an EIR . Renee said the city suggested they be allowed to finish the five houses but that they would have to submit plans (for grading, etc.) to the community who could hire experts to review and approve the plans or suggest changes. The 17 remaining lots would absolutely require that an EIR be done. Orrin Feldman pointed out that if the first five houses are excluded from an EIR, the neighbors lose our leverage because there would be no outstanding violations which would have to be corrected, such as height, etc.
Kyle Lowder of Willow Glen Rd. complained of a huge ditch in front of his house where the street has separated from his driveway. He brought pictures. Renee told him to show the photos to Erik and Doug Mensman, who would help him get the city to correct the problem.
Someone asked why we weren’t addressing the big picture and trying to stop all development instead of doing it piecemeal. Renee pointed out that there is no way to block someone from legally building on land they own. The city is trying to pass a new ordinance that will set the ratio of the size of a home that can be built on a given sized lot, but people don’t like to be told what they can do on land they own. She pointed out that the land above the Hollywood sign is privately owned, and that the owners plan to build a development. The City is trying to raise the money (they have $ 4 1/2 million of the $6 million needed) to buy the land back and keep the land open. Renee also mentioned that the St. Monica Mts. Conservancy is buying the acres below Mulholland near Universal to keep that land open. Perla Eston asked about building on lots that were previously deemed “substandard”; couldn’t we pass laws making it necessary to “bundle” these small lots in order to build on them? Renee pointed out that legislators are always looking for “density” (more voters) and that bundling lots defeats that purpose, so it’s not likely that would be an easy fight to win.
Renee then mentioned that she and others have been trying to pass a motion to get Neighborhood Prosecutors to deal with land use infractions, because City Attorneys (who have to deal with crime and haven’t time to investigate these issues) won’t. So far, the City Attorney has blocked this idea, but our group liked the idea and offered to help her in any way we could make this happen.
Renee then invited everyone to attend a Symposium on Planning Issues on April 6th at the Discovery Center at the LA Zoo with the new planning director Gail Goldberg and outgoing interim director Mark Winograd .
II. 7506 WILLOW GLEN
Tim Braseth reported to the group about a new house right at the Nichols Canyon turnoff to Willow Glen (7506). What is currently a canopy of oak trees, has been sold and a huge spec home is being planned: a 4,500 sq. ft Tuscan Villa with only a five foot setback from the street, dooming the trees. A discussion followed about whether the Mulholland Design Review Board can (or would) do anything, but it was pointed out that they’ve seen and approved the plans. The Hillside Ordinance currently allows a home that is 45% of the lot. Mel Remba reported that the house in question is in Area 8 (Mt. Olympus) and that their Architectural Committee is dealing with the owner to try to bring down the size and enlarge the setback. He’s gotten a promise from the owner that for every tree cut down, a replacement will be replanted in the neighborhood.
IV. BULWER ROAD
A discussion of the Bulwer Road construction followed. John Pogue introduced Donald Duckworth, the developer and representative of the owners of the land. Donald claimed that the owners have improved the community with the many improvements made, including shoring up the steep hillside behind the homes running down to Laurel Canyon Blvd. He claimed that the owner (who lives in Nebraska) is working closely with the city and at present only has plans to build one more home, but when pressed as to how many lots in all the owner plans to build on, Donald Duckworth said he didn’t know, nor could he state positively how many buildable lots the owner had. Mel Remba, representing the SMMC mentioned that there was little money left in the Conservancy coffers for this area to buy land, but with the approval of the community perhaps another assessment district could be passed to raise more funds which could then be used to buy open space. This met with a lot of approval.
At 8:30, the group broke for coffee and cake to thank Orrin Feldman, the outgoing Chair of Area 9, and Wendy Dytman, the Secretary, for their hard work over the last few years.
After the break, Neil Norman addressed the group. He has put together a small group to raise $2.7 million to buy the 6 acres of Harlesden Court (between Mt. Olympus and Cardwell Place). He asked for donations from the group and volunteers to help the effort. The Mt. Olympus Homeowners Group pledged $1,000.00 and others pledged to support the effort.
Orrin Feldman made an announcement about Temple Israel’s annual Big Sunday on May 7th- a day that they get volunteers out to do good deeds. This year they’re expecting 8,000 volunteers. They are also joining with the City to hopefully bring out 25,000 volunteers from Ojai to Anaheim. He urged everyone to go to www.Bigsunday.org for information.
There was a question regarding the status of the beautification project for the triangles of land at the corners of Mulholland and Woodrow Wilson. Despite having raised funds and gotten the St. Monica Mts. Conservancy to promise to maintain the corner, the project fell apart last year over internal disagreement about the scope of the project. A few people mentioned a desire to revive the project. This led to a discussion of the open lot on the Southwest corner of Laurel Canyon and Mulholland. Orrin mentioned that the city learned that there is a gas line running under that lot, making it an unlikely candidate for development, and that the Conservancy may be eyeing the purchase of that property.
John Pogue then suggested a number of smaller committees on which people could volunteer to serve – the idea being that these smaller committees can do the initial groundwork on these topics and report back to the larger group, making for a more efficient effort.
The final word came from Mel Remba, who pledged Area 8, Mt. Olympus’ help to work together on our mutual interests, and urged us to stay in touch via their website: www.mtolympus-la.org .
John Pogue adjourned the meeting at 9:35 pm.