Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Los Angeles 5th District City Council candidates highlight their strengths.

Q & A: Paul Koretz and David T. Vahedi

Before the May 19 runoff election, Los Angeles 5th District City Council candidates highlight their strengths.
March 27, 2009

As the May 19 runoff election nears, Times editors posed these questions to the two remaining candidates for the Los Angeles City Council's 5th District seat.

Paul Koretz

1) What specifically distinguishes you from your runoff opponent? What important skill or experience do you have that your opponent lacks?

I have extensive experience in state and local government and a proven history of delivering results for the people of the 5th Council District. As a deputy to former council members Marvin Braude and Zev Yaroslavsky, I learned how to deliver essential city services to neighborhoods and how to cut through city bureaucracy to serve constituents. 

As mayor and City Council member in West Hollywood, I helped turn a neglected strip of unincorporated county land into a thriving community with a balanced budget and an $80-million surplus, a three-minute police response time and one of California's highest levels of local services. 

And as a member of the state Assembly, I took on the gun lobby, corporate polluters and the tobacco companies to fight for healthier, safer neighborhoods. 

2) Now that you have highlighted yourself, what do you consider to be your opponent's best attribute? 

My opponent is very articulate and quite passionate in his beliefs. 

David T. Vahedi

1) What specifically distinguishes you from your runoff opponent? What important skill or experience do you have that your opponent lacks? 

As a lifelong resident of L.A. and a 35-year resident of the 5th District, I have never wanted to live anywhere else. For the last 10 years, I have served my district by serving on the Westside Neighborhood Council and on my local homeowner association board, bringing quality services to the 5th District and fighting for a better quality of life. 

I am now raising my family in the same neighborhood that I was raised. My son will attend the same public schools that I have attended. 

Now, more than ever, we need my auditing experience, with over 250 comprehensive audits completed, to identify and stop the waste before it occurs to assure that every tax dollar is spent wisely and efficiently to avoid unnecessary reductions in city services or the unnecessary need to raise taxes. 

When I entered this race, I made a pledge not to fund my primary campaign from contributions from downtown special interests such as large developers, their attorneys, billboard companies, strip clubs or medical marijuana clinics that have recently proliferated in our neighborhoods. I made this pledge because I wanted to try to inspire the residents of the district that each and every one of them does make a difference and that together we can be a collective voice for a better L.A. More importantly, I wanted the residents of the 5th to know that their councilman is making decisions based on what is best for the district, not based on special interest contributions. 

Finally, my experience in trying to maintain our infrastructure and receive our fair share of city resources such as police and fire has led to my campaign being endorsed by more homeowners association presidents and community leaders than my opponent. 

2) Now that you have highlighted yourself, what do you consider to be your opponent's best attribute? 

I believe my opponent's best attribute is his willingness to make sure animals are treated humanely.

Mixed crime picture for Westside

Mixed crime picture for Westside

12:44 PM | March 31, 2009

Two Los Angeles police patrol divisions on the Westside of Los Angeles saw modest drops in violent crime during the first three months of the year, except for robberies, which jumped nearly 26% in Pacific area, newly released figures show.

The LAPD reported that the overall violent crime rate in the Pacific and West Los Angeles police jurisdictions was down about 3% for the quarter ended March 28, compared with the same period a year earlier.

There were 98 robberies in the Pacific Division in the first quarter of 2009, 20 more than same period a year earlier. But other categories of violent crime, including homicide, rape and assault, were lower in that area, which stretches from Venice to the airport, between the the San Diego Freeway and the coast.

In the West Los Angeles Division, where political leaders and residents have complained that redeployments left fewer officers, rapes and robberies were up but there were fewer assaults than in the same period last year.

Property crime in the division rose slightly as a 25% drop in burglaries was offset by a nearly 50% increase in thefts from vehicles.

The Pacific Division had 10% fewer reported property offenses overall but burglaries rose to 303 from 265 a year earlier, a 14% increase.

Overall arrests in both the Pacific and West Los Angeles divisions fell by double digits.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Beverly Hills - Good Eats for Cheap (relatively speaking)

Beverly Hills tries to fight recession -- with breakfast

3:53 PM | March 31, 2009  


The recession is hitting in places high and low. Last month, The Times reported that even Beverly Hills isn't immune to the market fall-out and that city officials were projecting a $24-million drop in tax revenues over the next 16 months (a sum that equals about 15 % of the general fund budget).

In April, Beverly Hills will launch into grand-scale action in an attempt to bring visitors and business to the city's posh hotels and upscale restaurants and retailers. The month long effort, called "Breakfast in Beverly Hills," is coordinated by the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau and features discounted breakfast specials at 25 participating restaurants. In addition, every hotel in the city is offering a free extra- night stay (when a certain amount of nights are booked) and complimentary breakfast for two each morning. Retailers will get in on the action by offering deals and sales throughout the month of April.

Read the rest at the Daily Dish blog.

--Jessica Gelt

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jumbo Mortgages on the Horizon

We have all been hearing about mortgage rates dropping more and more -- and fixed rates dropping well below 5%. . .  But that is for conforming loans, and I suspect that the majority of homes in Bel~Air will not qualify for a conforming loan.

Here are the conforming loan limits for 2009:
YearHistorical Conventional Loan LimitsHigh Cost Area
Single FamilyTwo FamilyThree FamilyFour FamilySecond LoanSingle Family
2009$ 417,000$ 533,850$ 645,300$ 801,950$ 208,500$ 625,500


Good news is on the horizon for those lucky enough the suffer from this problem -- and that is nonconforming Jumbo loans (i.e., those over the conforming limits) are coming back.

As reported by the LA Times, "Major banks are heading into the jumbo segment, originating big loans at affordable rates -- not to then sell to Wall Street bond traders but to keep in their own investment portfolios."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Decadence

I do not know where Candy Spelling will go if her home sells, as her new condo at the Century appears to have dramatically slowed (if not stopped) construction months ago. . .  

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The widow of producer Aaron Spelling is placing "The Manor" in the exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood on the market for a jaw-dropping $150 million, making it by far the most expensive home for sale in the U.S.

The French chateau-style mansion has 56,500 square feet of space on more than 4.6 acres and is the largest home in Los Angeles County. Among the neighbors are the Los Angeles Country Club and, not too far away, the Playboy Mansion.


How about picking up the new all electric $50,000 (with federal tax rebate) Tesla Model S Sedan to go with your new pile of bricks?  The founder of Tesla is a Bel~Air resident -- so we can support our neighbor AND our environment at the same time!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shark Terrorizes Bel~Air!

I was driving by the West Gate yesterday and spotted the above Shark.

Does anyone have any idea what this is about?

Is the DWP getting silly?  Perhaps a local Art student going public?  An environmental statement?  Or is the Bel~Air Association Security Committee trying a new crime deterrent tactic?

One thing is for sure, the man walking by should watch his back (and his luggage)!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bel-Air Association Continues Fight Against Billboards

Article & Photographs by Colleen Hanlon, Director

Is this LA, or Tijuana?

Westwood Blvd. at Santa Monica Blvd

Westwood Blvd. at Olympic

Three Illegal Billboards in Bel-Air, at Sepulveda and Moraga:

Commuters on Westwood Boulevard enjoy a view dominated by commercial billboards.

Billboards have been banned in Los Angeles since 1982, but you certainly wouldn’t guess that from looking around. Exceptions to the ban handed out by elected and appointed government officials, many of whom receive campaign contributions from the very commercial interests they regulate, have swallowed the rule, leaving us drowning in a sea of signage.  The discretion exercised by these officials in granting exceptions has left the City open to expensive First Amendment lawsuits claiming illegal discrimination based on sign content and paralyzed enforcement of the ban.  

To eliminate the vulnerability to lawsuits and to respond to the public outcry against the deluge of signage, the city has been attempting to revise the current law, but it can’t resist creating exceptions that will swallow the new rules as well.  Representatives of the Bel-Air Association will appear before the Planning Commission for the third time on Thursday morning, March 26, to join numerous neighborhood groups in expressing opposition to the proliferation of billboards and excessive signage, including the new digital billboards and super-graphics (which wrap buildings in enormous vinyl signs that block windows). 

While the Association applauded the Planning Department’s latest proposal for including prohibitions on new billboards, digital billboards, super-graphics, and excessive on-site signage and increased fines for violations, the draft was fatally flawed by the provision for creation of up to 21 so-called “Sign Districts,” in which otherwise illegal billboards would be allowed and, in effect, anything would go.  The mushy criteria for establishment of those districts is particularly troublesome given the history of legal challenges to existing billboard laws based on the excessive discretion given to grant exceptions to the prohibitions.  The allowed districts include the area of Westwood bounded by Malcolm, Veteran, Lindbrook and Ashton, and both sides of Ventura Boulevard in Encino.  It’s hard to imagine how billboards and more signage could “enhance the unique quality, theme or character” of these areas as supposedly required for a Sign District.  Outside of Times Square and LA Live, billboards, digital signs, super-graphics and other excessive signage only add to visual clutter and detract from the beauty and liveability of neighborhoods. 

In addition to the Sign Districts, the current draft of the revisions provides for extra on-site signage for commercial centers totaling over 100,000 square feet, on top of a general allowance already many times that of other major cities such as Chicago and New York.     

To stop the proliferation of billboards in Los Angeles and to allow enforcement of the new steep fines for violations, the approach recommended by Tim Rutten in a March 21 Los Angeles Times editorial seems the only effective route:  Ban new billboards altogether.  And, with a law safe from constitutional challenges, Los Angeles could get rid of the over 4,000 illegal billboards currently standing.

Residents sharing concerns about billboards should check out http://banbillboardblight.org/.  Founder and volunteer Dennis Hathaway has taken it upon himself to “fight city hall” against billboards and deserves much of the credit for rallying the opposition throughout the neighborhoods of Los Angeles.  

C. Hanlon                   

From the LA Times Opinion Section

Tim Rutten

A stop sign for L.A. billboards

The battle to regulate a growing number of supergraphics and video displays has become a legal quagmire. Now the only thing that will work is a ban on new billboards of any kind.
Tim Rutten 
March 21, 2009
Next week, the Los Angeles Planning Commission will try once again to agree on a new set of billboard regulations it can send to the City Council for approval.

The badly split commission tried and failed this week to come up with a new ordinance, but the 151 pages of regulations over which it's struggling aren't likely to solve the problem anyway. Anybody who walks or drives the city's neighborhoods knows that many of them are being consumed by building-sized supergraphics and digital video billboards that make the word "assault" seem pallid. 


Friday, March 20, 2009

Bel~Air Architectural Forum - An Epic Success!

above photos by Ann Beisch

above photos by Alex Hanlon

Article by Russ Alben

Bel-Air Association Architectural Forum Receives Accolades at Hotel Bel-Air

A gathering of 200 Bel-Air residents was captivated by a presentation of the architectural inheritance of Bel-Air, Brentwood, and Beverly Hills created by three architects whose influences changed the landscape of Los Angeles.  Speakers representing Richard Neutra, Gerard Colcord, and Paul Williams detailed the contributions of the respected architects whose influence  produced magnificent homes not only for the rich and famous but whose work set enviable standards for others.  Representatives from the Los Angeles Conservancy and the City of Los Angeles, and Architects familiar with historical preservation added to the lessons learned.

The evening offered visual exhibits of exceptionally beautiful homes from modest and comfortable dwellings to majestic mansions of storybook proportions. There were intimate photos of homes that offered environments of family life and social grace long before the focus on today's "media rooms"where conversation comes from network chatter.

One of the most interesting aspects of the program were the inferences drawn from seeing howthese architectural stars created masterpieces that became part of the existing rolling landscapesof West Los Angeles. The houses were married to the land.  The approach of these designers wasto design a home that was at home with the surrounding neighborhood. A convincing comment on today's trend to build bigger homes by bulldozing trees and flattening properties.

The program was planned, produced and hosted by the Bel~Air Association Long Range Planning Committee and Chaired by Colleen Hanlon, a Director of the Bel-Air Association, and was presented in the Garden Room of the Hotel Bel-Air. The hotel itself was built on one of the original areas developed by Alphonso Bell, founder of the community in the late 1920's.

The event was hosted by the Bel-Air Association one of the most active homeowners groups in the country.  The BAA has established high standards and practices to maintain lifestyle and property values in today's changing environment.

We invite residents of Bel-Air to join and support the work and the programs of the association.

New City of LA Sign Ordinance FAILED March 18th Vote

The Bel~Air Association has spent a substantial amount of time on this issue of the new Los Angeles Sign Ordinance and has sent a letter to the Planning Commission in favor of the proposed ordinance's bans on digital and off-site billboards and supergraphics, but support requiring a commensurate reduction in signage elsewhere whenever a Sign District is established. 

Commission deadlocks on a proposal that would prohibit new digital billboards and vinyl supergraphics citywide but allow them in 21 potential sign districts.

By David Zahniser 
March 19, 2009
A divided Los Angeles Planning Commission failed to overhaul the city's billboard law Wednesday, with some members saying a proposed sign ordinance grants too many exceptions to the outdoor advertising industry.

The panel, which needed five votes to send a rewritten sign law to the City Council, deadlocked on a series of 4-3 votes.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

LAPD Crime Alert Notification


NON-EMERGENCY: 1-877-275-5273
Christopher Ragsdale
Senior Lead Officer
West Los Angeles Community Police Station
Office: 310-444-0741
Cell: 213-305-5895
10500 block Wyton Dr. RD 0819. MO: On 3-13-09, at 2240 hrs, victim flagged down suspects for help with her stranded vehicle. Suspect 1 exited his vehicle and pointed handgun at victim. Suspect 1 took victim's property and fled in suspect vehicle. Suspect#1: M H BLK BRO 508-509 175-180 20-25 yrs. dark plaid shirt, blu jeans. Suspect#2: F H BRO BRO 504-505 125-130 25-28 yrs. white shirt (driver). Suspect veh: 06-07 TOYT Solara 2 DR WHT
Gayley & LeConte. RD 817. MO: On 2/20/09, at 0120 hours, the victim had a prior dating relationship with the suspect. The suspect approached the victim and used forced to take the victim's purse from her possession. Suspect: Male Black Blk Bro 5-11 160 23 yrs. Weapon: Bodily Force. Vehicle: 2005 BMW X3 4-door Black (unknown plates). Property Taken: Purse.
The suspect in this case was identified and arrested in the days following the incident.
500 block Kelton Ave. RD 816. MO: On 2/20/09, at 0235 hours, the victim and witness walked pass the suspect and another male who were seated on a wall. The suspect made a statement to the victim. The suspect then stood up and took the victim's purse from her arm and ran southbound on Kelton. The victim screamed for help and another witness chased the suspect, who dropped the purse and fled. The purse and its contents were returned to the victim.
Suspect: Male Black Blk unk 5-7 150 20 yrs, wearing a light colored shirt and pants. Weapon: Bodily Force. Property Taken: (Recovered).
Arrest: Possession Of Dagger: Date/Time:03-04-09 1700 hrs. Loc: Ohio Avenue & Veteran Avenue. RD:0855 Deft: M W Gray, Bro, 605,180, 58 yrs. Charge: 12020(a) PC. Patrol Units responded to a 415 Man call. Officers detain three males in a blue Volvo. During their investigation officers learned that the males were looking for a place to use drugs. The deft was in the back seat of the vehicle with a knife in his jacket pocket. The other two males were arrested for warrants and drug crimes.
10200 block Santa Monica 3rd Floor. RD0829. MO: Between 03/13/09 at 1930 and 03/16/09 at 0830, suspect(s) entered the office suite, removed property.
10600 block Lindamare, RD 0806. MO: Between 01/01/09 at 1200 and 03/11/09 at 1900, suspect(s) entered the residence by unknown means, removed property.
1500 block Glendon Ave. RD 0855. MO: Between 03/11/09 at 1000 and 03/14/09 at 1200, suspect(s) used a door-mat key to enter the residence, removed property.
400 block Kelton Ave #306. RD 0817. MO: Between 03/04/09 at 0900 and 03/06/09 at 1700, suspect(s) pried the apartment front door, removed a wristwatch.
10300 block Briarwood. RD 0807. MO: Between 03/02/09 at 1600 and 03/03/09 at 0700, suspect(s) torched container, removed property.
1300 block Westwood Blvd. RD 0833. MO: Between 02/22/09 at 0100 and 02/23/09 at 1100, suspect(s) forced the business window, removed property.
100 block Hilgard Ave. RD 0819. MO: Construction site. Between 02/19/09 at 1740 and 02/20/09 at 0650, suspect(s) pried the window, removed property.
1000 block Westwood Blvd. RD 0817. MO: Between 02/19/09 at 1800 and 02/20/09 at 0900, suspect(s) attempted to pry the door. Entry was not gained.
10900 block Santa Monica Blvd. RD 834. MO: On 02/18/09, at 2000 hrs, and 02/19/09, at 0815 hrs, unknown suspect(s) entered the business by prying open the rear exterior door and cut a hole through the interior metal door. No property was taken.
1700 block Kelton Ave. RD 834. MO: On 02/18/09, at 2100 hrs, and 02/19/09, at 0900 hrs, unknown suspect(s) entered the business by kicking in the rear door and removed money, electronics, and hair cutting equipment.
Grand Theft Auto:
03/10/09, 1725 hours. RD: 0854 11100 Santa Monica Blvd. 02 FORD E350 VAN
03/10/09, 1700-0930 RD: 0817 900 Tiverton Ave 08 Tomos MP
02-28-09, 2100/2105 RD: 0829 10300 Rochester Ave Garage 88 Honda Accord
02-19-09, 2030/0800 RD: 0829 Rochester/Beverly Glen Street 91 Merc 500
02-20-09, 1030/2000 RD: 0833 10800 Wilkins Ave Street 92 Corolla
02-19-09, 1515/1615 RD: 0833 Glendon/Santa Monica Blvd. Street 88 Cadillac
Burglary Theft From Motor Vehicle:
03-13-09, 0330-1130 RD: 0833 1300 Kelton Ave Pkg structure
03-12-09, 2300-0345 RD: 0833 1300 Midvale Ave. Pkg structure
03-11-09, 1440-1445 RD: 0829 10400 Wilshire Blvd. street pried lock
03-10-09, 2245-0800 RD: 0816 600 Veteran Ave carport
03-09-09, 2245-0730 RD: 0829 10400 Eastborne Ave pried lock I-Pod
03-09-09, 2230-0900 RD: 0834 10500 Wilshire Blvd. parking garage wallet
03-05-09, 2030/0755 RD: 0829 1200 Devon Ave Street Smash
03-05-09, 2300/1100 RD: 0833 1500 Veteran Ave Street Smash
03-04-09, 1930/0700 RD: 0834 1500 Manning Ave Sub Gar Unk
03-05-09, 0000/0600 RD: 0805 1000 Casiano Ave Dwy Smash
03-03-09, 1730/0740 RD: 0815 11100 Ophir Ave Garage Susp rmvd
03-04-09, 1200/1600 RD: 0833 10900 Wilshire Blvd. Pkg Str
03-02-09, 1230/1430 RD: 0855 1600 Sepulveda Ave Pkg Gar Smash
03-01-09, 1330/1700 RD: 0834 1800 Fairburn Ave Alley 92 Integra
03-01-09, 0300/0800 RD: 0815 300 Sepulveda Blvd. Sub Gar Smash
03-01-09, 0115/0730 RD: 0829 1300 Beverly Glen Blvd. Sub Gar Smash
02-27-09, 2200/0800 RD: 0815 100 Thurston Ave Dwy Smash
02-28-09, 2200/0930 RD: 0815 100 Thurston Ave Street Smash
02-28-09, 0300/0600 RD: 0828 10700 Wilshire Blvd. Sub Gar Smash
02-28-09, 1730/0800 RD: 0855 1500 Camden Ave Street Pried
02-21-09, 0000/0520 RD: 0807 1800 N. Beverly Glen Blvd. Sub Gar Smash
02-20-09, 0500 RD: 0806 1200 Beverly Glen Blvd. Street
02-19-09, 1900/1100 RD: 0817 1000 Tiverton Ave Sub Gar Smash
02-18-09, 2200/0630 RD: 0829 10200 Santa Monica Blvd. Alley Smash GPS

Monday, March 16, 2009

REMINDER: Architectural Forum this Wednesday





A Discussion of Bel-Air’s Distinctive Architecture

Past, Present, and Future


Featuring Distinguished Panelists Including:

Bret Parsons, Author, Colcord Home, and an upcoming book about Bel-Air architecture

Alejandro Ortiz, Architect and Member of the LA City Planning Commission

Michael Buhler, Advocacy Director, LA Conservancy

Dion Neutra, Architect, Former Partner of his father Richard Neutra, and current Director of The Neutra Foundation

Harriet F. Williams, Granddaughter of Architect Paul Williams


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Exact time & location available

Through the association offices


Please reserve your seat at this event by calling The Bel-Air Association office at 310.474.3527 


This event is presented free of charge to Bel~Air Association Members as a Community Service of the Bel-Air Association!

Friday, March 13, 2009

City of LA Targets Hillsides (Bel~Air included) for New Development Regulations

Bel~Air From Above
(click on image to enlarge)

The City of Los Angeles is currently developing a Proposed Ridgeline Ordinance (PRO) that will comprise of new regulations governing and limiting the development and redevelopment of homes and home-sites across Los Angeles’ Hillside Areas – including all of Bel~Air.

We here at the BLOG and the Bel~Air Association understand that this is a VERY contentious issue -- with many very well intentioned residents on both sides of the aisle.  

To perhaps oversimplify the issue, there are those who want to protect their community and residential streets from the development of out-of-character over-sized residences and garish "McMansions" that could literally cast a shadow on their home and that of their neighbors -- and there are those who believe that these regulations deprive them of their property rights, markedly diminish property values and attempt to solve a very specific (and potentially economically moot) problem with the indifference of a shotgun.

Nonetheless -- we will do our best to report new development to the community from a factual standpoint, as with the memorandum set forth in the post below.

Although our opinions may differ from time to time -- our collective desire for a better community for our friends and family will always unite us.

Bel~Air Association Memo - Proposed Hillside / Ridgeline Ordinance to limit development of Bel~Air Properties



To:      Bel-Air Association Members

From:              Colleen Hanlon, Chair

            Long-Range Planning Committee,

            Bel-Air Association Board of Directors

Date:   March 12, 2009

 Re:      Ridgeline Ordinance Workshops


Dear Members,

As you may know, in February, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning held “Hillside Kick-Off Meetings” throughout the city to gain community input for a “Ridgeline Ordinance” it intends to craft and propose.  This ordinance will comprise of new regulation governing and limiting the development and redevelopment of homes and home-sites across Los Angeles’ Hillside Areas – including all of Bel~Air.  I attended such a workshop held on the Westside on February 19th, as well as a subsequent meeting of the Land-Use Committee of the Bel-Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Association at which the proposal’s development was briefly discussed.  I would like to share the following summary outlining what I have gleaned so far. 

Please bear in mind that no written materials have been distributed yet, so the summary below is based only on the notes I could take during the Planning Department’s presentation and discussion among those in attendance at the workshop, and the brief report about the proposal at Neighborhood Council.  Also remember that the ordinance’s development is in its very preliminary stages, so no part of the proposal is set in stone, and the Planning Department is actively seeking public comment.  The Bel-Air Association will continue to monitor the development of the ordinance and to share information with members.  All members are encouraged to attend future workshops and to make their comments and concerns known to the Association and the Planning Department.     

Model for the Proposed Ridgeline Ordinance (PRO)

1.       Existing ridgeline ordinances are the (i) unincorporated County areas ordinance; (ii) Northeast Los Angeles Ordinance; and (iii) Specific Plans for Mulholland Scenic Parkway, Hollywoodland, Mt. Washington/Glassell Park, and others.

2.       The PRO conceptual framework is modeled on the Northeast Los Angeles Ordinance (eff. 1/16/09) (it applies to La Canada Flintridge/South Pasadena); the content will be shaped by heavy community input.

a.       The City is holding workshops throughout area; it may hold subsequent ones as the proposal evolves.

b.      Attendees hear the Department’s presentation, prioritize and list concerns, and ask questions.

3.       The PRO will be designed to meet the objectives of Baseline Ordinance in hillside setting, which are:

a.       To prevent mansionization, the “looming factor” (tall homes looming over smaller ones), and boxy structures; and

b.      To preserve single-family home neighborhoods.

Tentative Content of PRO - Concepts

1.       The Hillside Area definition is being revised to be based on topography, not street boundaries.  Current definition:  If streets are improved to 28’ or more, the Hillside Ordinance is not applicable, regardless of topography.

a.       The Hillside designation will be removed from lots that are clearly flat, and the Baseline Ordinance will apply.  A March 26th Planning Department hearing will be held in Van Nuys concerning the new definition.

b.      That said, all of Bel-Air Beverly Crest area will be “Hillside” under new definition, even if some lots are flat, because the vast majority is hillside.

2.       The PRO incorporates the Floor Area Ratios (“FAR”) concept, using the slopes and areas within a lot to calculate the maximum FAR, with the allowances to be based on Zoning (R1, RE20, etc.)

a.        As an example only, for some zoning areas, for portions of a lot where the Slope = 0 – 15%, the value in allowed square footage for a home will probably match that allowed in the flats under the Baseline Ordinance (eg:  roughly, for R1, 50% total lot size plus 400 sq. feet for garage plus other available bonuses of up to 500 sq. feet)

                                                                           i.      For portions of the lot that have a 15 – 30% slope, the allowance might be set at .40.

                                                                         ii.      For portions of the lot that have a 45 – 60% slope, the allowance might be set at .25.

                                                                        iii.      For portions of the lot that have a 100+% slope, the allowance might be set at 0 (subject to minimum size home guaranty for all lots).

                                                                       iv.      These allowances are added together for all portions of the lot to get the total Floor Area allowed. 

b.      By comparison, the current rules all treat lots the same, regardless of slope (basically, lot size minus setbacks x 3, or 3 x “buildable area”).

c.       The slopes for each section of each lot will be based on the available US Geological Survey data.

3.        Height limits

a.       These will be crafted to eliminate the current rule, which is viewed as incentivizing subdividing in a way that ignores topography. 

b.      Maximum height is to be calculated from the existing or finished grade (whichever is higher).

4.       To protect ridgelines, grading will be limited under the PRO, possibly to 500 cubic yards plus 10% of lot size (eg: For  5,000 square foot lot, grading limited to 500 cubic yards plus an extra 500 cubic yards for a total of 1,000 cubic yards)

5.       Retaining walls also will be limited, possibly to 6’ in height, and by linear foot. 

6.       A minimum size home will be guaranteed for all legal lots, no matter what the FAR would be calculated as.

7.       An Overlay Zone may be chosen for neighborhoods that want different rules.

a.       75% of neighbors within proposed boundary must sign application.

b.      Must pay a $1,600 fee total. 

Current Posture of PRO

1.       The City is in the Preliminary Research Phase, holding workshops to get community input.

2.       A public hearing on the PRO will be held this summer.