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Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter • August 2016

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

Newsletter • August 2016 • Los Angeles, California                                                                                                    

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Miracle Mile HPOZ

Workshop & Public Hearing


Saturday, August 20, 2016


Informational Open House, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Official Public Hearing starts at 11:00 a.m.

Location: Candela
831 S. La Brea Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90036



Click on map to enlarge.
 
This Saturday, August 20th, the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning will hold a combined Informational Open House and Public Hearing on the Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ). 

The Informational Open House will be held an hour before the Public Hearing. Staff members from the Office of Historic Resources office will be present to review the Draft Preservation Plan with residents.

The Public Hearing is your chance to comment on the record regarding the proposed HPOZ. During the Public Hearing, a hearing officer will record public testimony and written correspondence on the proposed plans. No decision on the zone change will be made at this meeting; however, comments will be taken into consideration in the final recommendation to the Cultural Heritage Commission and City Planning Commission. If you are unable to attend the August 20th Public Hearing you may provide comments through written communication by August 29th, 2016 [see Notice of Public Hearing below]. 

An official Notice of Public Hearing was mailed by the City of Los Angeles to every resident within the boundaries of the proposed Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) and to every resident living within 500 feet of the the proposed HPOZ. 

The Draft Preservation Plan contains the guidelines of the Miracle Mile HPOZ that will be implemented by the Design Review Board in the administration of the HPOZ. The preservation plan was developed by a committee of Miracle Mile property owners and residents that included owners of multi-family and single family residences, renters, an architect specializing in historic restoration, a local realtor, and a property manager.

On August 11th, the Planning Department held a well-attended Informational Open House at Temple Beth Am. Planning Department staff were on hand to answer questions from residents and property owners. Representatives from Brookside and Wilshire Vista, two nearby communities interested in seeking HPOZ status, also attended to learn more about the HPOZ process.

The Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA) initiated the process of creating the Miracle Mile HPOZ in the fall of 2014. Former Councilmember Tom LaBonge sponsored a motion nominating the Miracle Mile for the HPOZ application process and the motion was unanimously approved by the full City Council. Current Councilmember David Ryu is an enthusiastic supporter of the Miracle Mile HPOZ.

The Miracle Mile HPOZ has been endorsed by the Mid City West Community Council, the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, and the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition. Miracle Mile property owners have generously donated thousands of dollars to finance the $80,000 cost of the historic resources survey and our outreach efforts. (Click here if you would like to donate to the HPOZ fund, too.)

Videos about the Miracle Mile HPOZ have been posted on the MMRA Channel on YouTube, including two large public meetings: the first meeting was held on January 10, 2015 and the second meeting was held on September 19, 2015 [click on links to view].

Additional information can be found on the Miracle Mile HPOZ Website at MiracleMileLA.com – including the results of the Historic Resources Survey, which identifies the historic status of every property within the HPOZ.

If you have questions or wish to submit written comments please email:

 

Renata Dragland,
City Planning Associate
 Los Angeles Department of City Planning
Office of Historic Resources, HPOZ Unit


Please show your support by attending the Public Hearing on August 20th or by sending letters of support to Renata Dragland, City Planning Associate [email address above].


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HPOZ: The Miracle Mile's Last Best Hope


 

HPOZ: The Miracle Mile’s Last Best Hope

– by Ken Hixon, MMRA Vice President



 
A few people have asked me why creating the Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) is necessary. The most obvious answer is to preserve the history, charm, and scale of our community. No one can argue that the Miracle Mile is not a well-known and celebrated part of town. Books have been written about the Miracle Mile’s place in urban history. Scholars have made a study of A. W. Ross and the other developers who built the Miracle Mile in the 1920s – and, in the process, invented the automobile oriented form of linear development. Even Disneyland parks imitate our art deco and other period architecture and bill it as their own “Miracle Mile.”
 
The real Miracle Mile is a masterful blend of commercial and cultural resources, charming apartment buildings, duplexes, and beautiful single family homes. We embody all of the virtues that modern city planners strive to create in their neo-urban schemes. The Miracle Mile is centrally located on major public transportation lines; it is densely populated; it is a very walkable and cosmopolitan neighborhood with a mixture of housing options that provide socio-economic diversity.  Simply put: the Miracle Mile is a great neighborhood.
 
Since 1983, the Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA) – which is composed of both property owners and renters – has worked hard to preserve the quality of life in Miracle Mile. But in the last few years our neighborhood has been under siege.


This home at 808 Ridgeley Drive was demolished
to construct the McMansion below.


 
While nearby communities enjoy the protections afforded by HPOZ (Carthay Circle, Miracle Mile North, Hancock Park), we have become an attractive target for McMansion speculators and apartment/condo developers who have been razing duplexes and other older multi-family building to build high-density luxury projects.  These new developments and K-Mart sized homes literally blot out our daylight, destroy our privacy, exacerbate our traffic woes, and disturb the “visual” peace of our community.
 
The MMRA was successful in getting a two year Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) to stop the demolition of R-1 zoned single family homes in hopes that City Hall would reform the loophole-riddled Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO). But our ICO expires in March 2017 and efforts to fix the BMO are still incomplete. As our YouTube interviews with Shelley Wagers (who has led the fight to stop McMansions) attest: the odds that a new BMO will put a real stop to mansionization are dicey. Now, the city is touting a menu of new R-1 zones to combat McMansions that are indecipherable in their complexity – and, given the notorious lack of enforcement of building codes in L.A., it is highly unlikeable that any relief will be found there.
 
And remember, the ICO only applies to single-family homes. Our stock of historic, rent-stabilized, multi-family buildings are ripe for demolition to make way for large market rate complexes. R-3 zoned multi-family buildings are interspersed throughout the Miracle Mile, many are adjacent to R-1 zoned single-family homes – in fact, a number of single-family homes in our area are zoned R-3. These R-3 zoned properties are not covered by any mansionization ordinances and never will be.
 
The State of California has been issuing a stream of new legislation that promises apartment developers all sorts of perks if they add low income units to their market rate projects. No one I know in the Miracle Mile objects to low income housing, but these “density bonus” laws purposely exclude any community input. We have no say over heights, set-backs, reductions in parking spaces, rooftop party areas, or traffic impacts. In essence, the state has told the residents of the Miracle Mile to "shut up."


Two duplexes on Odgen and two fourplexes on Orange Grove
(north of 8th St.) were demolished and the lots combined for
the contruction of this new 45-unit "density bonus"
apartment project.
 
HPOZ is the only means by which the residents of the Miracle Mile can exercise any control over our neighborhood. It will thwart mansionization and stop the destruction of our historic multi-family buildings for the construction of super-sized apartment and condo projects.
 
HPOZ is the Miracle Mile’s last best hope. But this is just my opinion, there are some who disagree – as you can see below in the point-counterpoint exchange between Dave Wagner, who opposes HPOZ, and Pete Haidos, who supports it.
 
Yes, HPOZ imposes regulation over the exterior appearance of residential properties in the Miracle Mile. But the Design Guidelines Committee went out of its way to make the Preservation Plan as accommodating as possible. Ken Bernstein, head of the Office of Historic Preservation, has publically stated that the rules for the Miracle Mile HPOZ are the most “flexible” of any other HPOZ in L.A. (30 HPOZS to date with 8 HPOZS pending adoption). 
 
The common sense guidelines allow for dozens of paint colors, rear additions, some second floor additions, accessory dwelling units ("granny flats"), and drought-tolerant landscaping. There is a lot of misinformation out there.  So, don’t take my word for it – or anyone else’s – read the Preservation Plan yourself.

Also keep this one key point well in mind: HPOZ will not force you to change anything about your property as it presently exists. 
 
The fact is that the overwhelming majority of property owners in the Miracle Mile have long adopted these choices even before they were formally codified into HPOZ guidelines. Most properties are well-maintained with a sensitive eye for their historic features and charm. The purpose of the Miracle Mile HPOZ is not to create the “paint police” – it is to preserve the history of our community and to protect it from all forms of over-development.  
 
Robby O’Donnell [photo below] is one of the founders of the Wilshire Park HPOZ. She is very bright and straight-shooting woman. When I interviewed her a couple of years ago for this newsletter, I asked her what she thought would happen to the Miracle Mile if we didn’t become an HPOZ. She didn’t hesitate in formulating her answer: “You’ll become another Century City.”
 

Miracle Mile HPOZ ~ Frequently Asked Questions
with Mark Zecca and Robby O'Donnell.
Click on image to view video.

  

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The Miracle Mile HPOZ • Point/Counterpoint


 
 

The Miracle Mile HPOZ
Point/Counterpoint

 
Dave Wagner and Pete Haidos own multi-family buildings in the Miracle Mile. Both men were appointed to the Design Guidelines Committee that drafted the Preservation Plan for the Miracle Mile HPOZ.  
 
Dave opposes HPOZ and Pete support it. Here, in their own words, they explain their positions:

 
Dave Wagner:
 
Dear Miracle Mile Homeowners,

I have had the privilege to attend several planning sessions for this proposed HPOZ. During these meetings, several committee members mentioned to me that the primary intent of this proposal is to prohibit mansionization of our neighborhood. I agree with this objective. Walking through some areas north of Wilshire, one can certainly see what happens when builders are allowed to run amok.

However, the HPOZ requirements go much too far in this respect.

The HPOZ takes away the property rights of all homeowners to make reasonable decisions regarding their most expensive investment. This is not right. America has always been based on the belief of individual freedoms – which will be taken from all homeowners should this proposal pass. Please consider the following:
  • You will need approval to paint your house. Although unsaid, I believe homeowners will be required to maintain the standard color of the neighborhood which is white or tan.
  • In order to replace a window you will need to replace it with a window deemed “historic” and that is probably of wooden construction. That means nothing from Home Depot, plus many more years of painting due to sun exposure. If a “historic” window is missing, it must be replaced with a new historic window. Same for any exterior door you may want to replace.
  • Have a tree in the front yard you don’t like? Forget it. You will be prohibited from cutting it down unless it is destroying your foundation or sidewalk. Don’t like a wall or walkway in the front yard? Too bad. Any replacement must look identical to the old wall or walkway. Drought tolerant yards are prohibited.
  • Do you need to move your satellite dish to the front of the house in order to avoid your neighbor’s tree? Forget it.
  • Need to do any work around the electrical mast or exterior fuse box? You will probably be required to move it to the rear of the building.
Note that none of the above concern mansionization. Yet, if passed, all homeowners will have to abide by 37 pages of HPOZ rules simply to maintain a “historic” look.

None of the HPOZ rules consider the expense to the homeowner.

Further, there is no provision in the rules for termination of the HPOZ.  Once approved, in existence forever.

It is also important to note that the City has recently passed revised mansionization rules. Will they work better than the prior ordinance?  No one can say, but shouldn’t we allow some time to see if the new zoning ordinance is effective?
 
In summary:

A group of roughly 12 HPOZ committee members, no matter how well meaning, have no right to take away the property rights of the 1,200 homeowners within the preservation zone.

Any decision regarding the HPOZ should be delayed for at least three years to see if the new mansionization ordinance works.

The HPOZ ordinance should, at the very least, exempt existing homeowners who purchased their homes well before discussion of an HPOZ began. 

Although home values in our neighborhood could temporarily stabilize or increase under the HPOZ, I believe home prices will eventually decline or fall behind home prices in areas without an HPOZ. The next generation of home buyers may not want to live with 1920’s architecture. You probably interact with millennials in your daily life.  Do you really think they will appreciate the same style of house that you do?

Finally, there is nothing wrong with “new.” It is really OK to build something that does not look to be 100+ years old. Regarding “historic,” last I heard, George Washington never slept in our neighborhood.

Please attend the August 20th HPOZ meeting. Once your property rights are taken away, you will never get them back.

Pete Haidos:
 
Greetings Miracle Mile Neighbors,
 
My name is Pete Haidos and I own two fourplexes in our proposed HPOZ. I invested in Miracle Mile because it was the most charming of all the neighborhoods, from Santa Monica to the Eastside.
 
When I restored the buildings in 2012 I took care in selecting original materials and finishes out of respect for the architectural integrity and rich history of Miracle Mile. Doing it right not only respects the neighborhood but also brings higher rents and protects our property values. 
 
Other landlords have made similar improvements to their buildings. After all of our hard work, we are worried that careless remodeling and development around us will hurt the desirability of our historic neighborhood. If that were to happen we would take a hit in rents and or vacancies. Many of us rely on modest incomes, stretched further by mortgages, taxes and operating expenses.  
 
I have seen it happen in San Pedro where I live and own a home. We have charming pockets but property values and rents are very low because of the cheap and haphazard development that has been allowed to occur over the last 30 years. 
 
Values and rents used to be on par with L.A., now they are not. The new developments, which looked merely disappointing 25 years ago when they were new, look terrible today. You can imagine how frustrating it is owning a vintage home in this area.
 
The Miracle Mile, on the other hand, is relatively unscathed and worth protecting to keep the neighborhood as beautiful and historic as possible. My three newest tenants, who are all Millennials, love the classic look and feel of the buildings and say that was a major factor in their decision to live here.
 
Another concern is a fourplex nearby that is a collection of nearly everything on the city’s "strongly discouraged" list.
 
During its remodel it received a Spanish tile roof (the building is not Spanish style), architecturally inappropriate windows, walls along the sidewalk, and a property management sign that's been hung out front for five years.
 
This building is now a neighborhood eyesore.
 
It is not clear if the owner: 
  • A)  Knew what he/she was doing and didn't care about the impact to the neighborhood, or:
  • B)  Was initially a flipper who sold it for a quick profit and got out, or: 
  • C)  Was well-intentioned but could have had a much better outcome for the neighborhood and himself with guidance from the city and HPOZ review.
I believe the HPOZ rules will provide a valuable resource for owners seeking to get the details right in a long-lasting, attractive remodel. Original details never go out of style.
 
If the remodel was intentionally inappropriate (Case A or B), HPOZ can help with that too by not allowing the construction in the first place. I agree an owner has the right to do whatever he/she wants with their property, as long as it doesn't hurt the neighbors. 
 
(The renovation of the building I'm referring to is “grandfathered” and would not be forced to change if an HPOZ is adopted. Once we allow one of these to be built, we are stuck with it forever because it is too far gone to restore back to original and a teardown with rebuild is not realistic.)
 
HPOZ will not limit your exterior color choices to white and tan. There is flexibility for drought tolerant landscaping too. The city guidelines are clear, fair and easy to follow, I have read them all. Most of the HPOZ committee members feel the same way.    
 
Yes, there may be a minor extra step or two but isn’t your most expensive investment worth the effort?  Some are as simple as sending an e-mail to the city before doing the work. 
 
To be clear, new infill developments would not always have to look vintage. At one of our meetings we discussed a very modern multi-family building that went up at 749 South Cloverdale [left]. The city representative said it was beautiful, appropriate and that such a building in the same place would be welcomed under HPOZ.
 
You will be able to ask any questions you wish at the community outreach meetings on August 20.
 
The tipping point for me came last year when a new development went in two blocks west on Olympic, in a style and scale that was completely out of character with Miracle Mile. That's how things started in San Pedro 30 years ago. Quick and dirty remodels came next. Today few parts of San Pedro are eligible for HPOZ protection because most no longer meet the minimum requirement of 70% conforming properties.
 
Miracle Mile is at 80% but it doesn’t take much for that to slip. Please join me in supporting the HPOZ so that doesn’t happen, because if it does it will be too late. The time to act is right now!
 
Thank you.
 

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Approval Process Begins for LACMA's Proposal for a New Museum



 

Approval Process Begins for LACMA's Proposal for a New Museum


On August 4, 2016, Los Angeles County released a Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s controversial proposal to bridge Wilshire Boulevard with a new museum designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.
 
LACMA has launched a new website that provides tentative plans, images, and a timeline for the project. Additional information is available in the Initial Study.
 
A Public Scoping Meeting will be held on August 24 at 6 p.m. at LACMA’s Broad Contemporary building. The Scoping Meeting will allow the community to raise questions and concerns that will then be addressed in the EIR. It is important that these issues be outlined from the outset of the approval process.

Click on site plan to enlarge.

 

In a response to a reporter’s inquiry about the proposal, James O’Sullivan, MMRA President, replied: “One thing I can say is that I have never seen a project of this scope before. So, I want to be responsible and not get ahead of the process. Lots and lots of work will need to be done during the Draft Environmental Impact Report phase. Having a building suspended over Wilshire Boulevard is not something one sees everyday. It is not a matter of ‘do we love or not love the project’ but rather a matter of can it be done and what impacts will it have on the residents of the Miracle Mile.” 
 
Public comments on the potential scope of the EIR can be made at the Public Scoping meeting, or can be submitted until September 6 to:

Peter Burgis
Capital Programs
L.A. County Chief Executive Office
500 W. Temple St., Room 754
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
pburgis@ceo.lacounty.gov

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(...below the fold...)

 UPCOMING EVENTS 


MMRA Board Meeting
Tuesday
September 6, 2016
@ 7 PM


Board meetings are held at


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Click on image to enlarge.

 

Miracle Mile

History Quiz


This circa 1960 photo shows the construction of what would be the tallest building in Los Angeles at that time. Where in the Miracle Mile is it located?




Miracle Mile Farmers' Market
Every Wednesday 11 AM ~ 3 PM

Wilshire Courtyard


Miracle Mile
Residential Association

James O’Sullivan, President
james.osullivan@MiracleMileLA.com

Alice S. Cassidy, Vice President
alice.cassidy@MiracleMileLA.com

Joseph Steins, Treasurer
joseph.steins@MiracleMileLA.com

Ken Hixon, Vice President
Director of Communications
kenhixon@MiracleMileLA.com

Mark Zecca, Chairperson
Miracle Mile HPOZ Committe
mark.zecca@MiracleMileLA.com
 

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Miracle Mile Residential Association
P.O. Box 361295
Los Angles, CA 90036-9495


Email: info@MiracleMileLA.com
Website: www.MiracleMileLA.com
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