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New Committee To Study Neighborhood Compatibility of New Developments

Panel will study application requirements for new developments to help retain neighborhood feel.

The Venice Neighborhood Council on Tuesday voted to establish a committee that will study whether proposed new developments in Venice are compatible with existing structures in the area.

After public outcry over the recent boom in new residential buildings that some say are incongruous with the existing bungalows, the council decided to form the Mass, Scale and Character Ad-hoc Committee, that with input from residents of the Venice Coastal Zone will evaluate new projects and recommend its findings back to the council.

“We should task the committee to come up with a metric for defining mass and scale – not as a limit, not as a maximum, but simply a formula that permits the neighborhood to grow over time without these sudden cancers, these tumors, that appear out of nowhere in the middle of our neighborhoods,” Venice councilman Kelley Willis said.

L.A. officials established the Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan on Jan. 19, 2004. The plan created eight distinct areas, all with different land use development regulations. In the Venice canals for example, homes must not exceed 30 feet in height, while on the Venice walk streets, the maximum height is 28 feet. 

A provision in the plan also states that its purpose is partly to “regulate all development, including use, height, density, setback, buffer zone and other factors in order that it be compatible in character with the existing community and to provide for the consideration of aesthetics and scenic preservation and enhancement, and to protect environmentally sensitive areas.”

The newly-formed committee’s job will be to solicit advice from all parties involved in a new development to interpret and incorporate the vaguely-defined “character” of a neighborhood into the design plans of a proposed project. 

A couple of council members wanted to postpone creation of the ad hoc committee, but their motion was struck down in a vote after public comment. 

“It’s so important that this committee gets formed now because we may lose our neighborhood,” said Gigi Gaston, resident of Crescent Place.

The council then approved the formation of the Mass, Scale and Character Ad-hoc Committee, which will will automatically terminate after one year.

The council also approved the development of two new units on Tuesday: a 3-story single family home located at 1627 Crescent Pl. and the demolition of a house on 3009 Sanborn Ave. that will be replaced with a 2700-square-foot home. 

steve September 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM
You also need to push for an updated Community Plan l, that is the major piece of the puzzle that is lacking here and in the rest of the surrounding neighborhoods. I think 1998 was the last update. Lots have happened and been built in 14 years.
David Ewing September 20, 2012 at 04:16 PM
The mission of the new committee is not to invent new standards out of thin air. It is to implement mandates that already exist in the Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan. Those mandates have been difficult to apply fairly because the City cut short the original process that was supposed to develop these metrics. Hopefully now there will be some guidance to land use decision-makers. It's important to note that the work of this committee is limited to the Venice Coastal Zone area. It does not apply to the area east of Lincoln, nor to the Oxford Triangle.

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