Bel-Air Development: LOS ANGELES TIMES Opinion/Op-Ed highlights major concerns regarding the City and development

The way L.A. decides what gets built is outdated, morally corrupt and unfair By Austin Beutner, Mickey Kantor, published 11/11/16

This photo shows an aerial view of the ongoing construction underway at Sea Breeze, Samuel Leung’s controversial $72-million, 352-unit apartment project in the Harbor Gateway area, on Sept. 28. The site was previously zoned by the city for industrial businesses. (Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles suffers from outdated zoning rules and poor planning processes. State law requires cities to maintain General Plans, which need to be updated every five years. The Los Angeles General Plan includes 35 separate community plans that establish legal land-use parameters for the city’s neighborhoods, plus one each for the Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport. Unfortunately, most of these community plans have not been updated in 20 years or more. Despite City Hall’s rhetoric about zoning reform and a vision for the future, the plans remain hopelessly out-of-date. A recent attempt to update the Hollywood Community Plan was thrown out in 2014, after residents sued and the judge in the case ruled the new plan contained “errors of fact and law” and was “fatally flawed.” Los Angeles paid $1.75 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs, and Hollywood is back to relying on a 1988 community plan.

What happens when Los Angeles tries to move forward with outdated plans? Requests for “updates” — zoning and planning variances — land in the hands of the 15 City Council members. They more or less have the authority to ignore the old rules and decide what projects will be built in their districts, subject to sign-off by the mayor. No project of any consequence can move forward without these approvals.

This “spot-zoning” system gives those who can afford to fill campaign coffers outsized influence over the size, shape and location of new development in the city, with average Angelenos left out of this backroom cycle of monied interests and City Hall politicians.

Changing such deeply rooted behavior in City Hall will not be easy because it will take away elected officials’ biggest source of money and power. Yet fixing it can start with three simple steps: Limit campaign contributions, make all such donations public and get L.A.’s community plans updated.

Los Angeles should impose strict limits on campaign funding from those who have development business before the City Council. The Securities and Exchange Commission has already imposed such limits on Wall Street firms that are doing, or plan to do, business with Los Angeles. Many more such rules are in effect in municipalities around the country. The devil is in the details, but Los Angeles could use the SEC rules as a starting point in order to reduce the potential for undue influence from campaign contributions on City Hall.

Next, whatever contributions are made should be a matter of public record. All campaign donations received from any person, corporation or lobbyist connected to projects under consideration for variances from the City Council should be published. It shouldn’t take months of research by The Times to connect the dots. The public has a right to know this information before any decisions are made by City Hall that will affect their neighborhoods.

Finally, the City Council should do its job and update the 35 community plans. Rules and planning goals that were adequate a generation ago simply don’t meet the city’s needs now. The updating effort will require input from neighborhoods and a comprehensive approach to city planning. Once the plans are updated, developers may still need variances — no plan can cover every eventuality — but the city will have a current, transparent set of rules, debated and agreed upon by its residents, against which to judge those requests.

Los Angeles has the makings of a great 21st century city. If it is to succeed, its foundation has to be built not on plans determined by which developers have the deepest pockets or the whims of individual elected officials, but on community plans that reflect L.A.’s needs today and anticipate its hopes for the future.

Austin Beutner and Mickey Kantor were co-chairs of the L.A. 2020 Commission, which published a report in 2013 highlighting, among other issues, the need for development reform in Los Angeles.

Message from the BAA Board of Directors: Update on Accomplishments and on-going Pursuits for our Bel-Air Community

Members of the Bel-Air Community,

We want to thank you all for coming together earlier this year to help our community be one that we can be proud of and want to live in forever! As you know, the Bel-Air Association works to protect the enjoyment of home ownership and property values in Bel-Air. We work to ensure the safety and security of Bel-Air residents by advocating responsible land use development through proactive advocacy and communications with government officials, developers, homeowners, media and neighboring organizations. In addition to land use issues, the Bel-Air Association is focused on protecting and enhancing our community aesthetics, neighborhood watch and preparedness, and wild life watch programs.

We have accomplished so much since our March 17, 2016 meeting and there is even more we that needs to be done. But, thanks to your support, we are off to a tremendous start! The Bel-Air Association (BAA) has worked on several projects to address the issues arising from the increased construction activity in our neighborhood and to maintain the quality of life for our members living in Bel-Air. We wanted to provide a list of recent accomplishments of the BAA:

• 20,000 Square Feet Ordinance: The BAA worked with Councilman Paul Koretz to introduce a motion to Los Angeles City Council (LACC) on June 24th, 2016 requiring community and environmental impact review for homes larger than 20,000 square feet.

• Ridgeline Ordinance: The BAA worked with Councilman Koretz to introduce a motion to LACC on June 24th, 2016 requiring the development of a ridgeline ordinance to prevent development in areas unstable geologic conditions.

• Baseline Mansionization/Baseline Hill Code Amendment (BMO/BHO): The BAA supported and worked alongside Councilman Koretz to introduce an amendment to the Los Angeles Zoning Code establishing new regulations for single-family properties in RA, RE, RS and R1 Zones.

• Increased Communication with the Department of City Planning (DCP) and Council District 5 (CD5): The BAA toured Fasial Alserri, Senior Planning Deputy for CD5, and Christine Saponara from the DCP's Plan Implementation Department around speculative home sites within Bel-Air to show Mr. Alserri and Ms. Saponara the impact the on-going construction on Bel-Air residents. In addition, the BAA has been in regular contact with Mr. Alserri regarding development and safety issues related to these speculative home sites.

• Bel-Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council Elections: On June 5, 2016, Bel-Air Association members Maureen Levinson, Dan Love, Charles "Chuck" Maginnis, and Leslie Weisberg were elected to the Bel-Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council.

• Election of new Board of Directors and Officers for the Bel-Air Association: The BAA held a special meeting on March 17, 2016 at the Bel Air Country Club resulting in the election of a new Board of Directors and Officers.

◦ Marcia Hobbs, Association Chair

◦ Daniel J Love, President and Acting Treasurer

◦ Jamie Meyer, Secretary

◦ Maureen Levinson, Vice President

◦ James Hyman, Steven Myers, Tawny Sanders, Gail Sroloff and Sopavan (Nook) Suphamongkhon, Directors

• Updated Bel-Air Association Bylaws: The Association's bylaws were modernized and updated to increase transparency during the special meeting of the BAA on March 17, 2016.

The Bel-Air Association also works to ensure the safety and upkeep of the community through the following on-going initiatives:

• Neighborhood Maintenance: The BAA actively monitors and reports pothole repairs, missing or damaged street signs, fallen trees and street debris to the appropriate departments at the City of Los Angeles.

• Street Closure Notification: The BAA provides members with updates regarding street closures due to street resurfacing and other infrastructure projects by the City of Los Angeles.

• Wildlife Watch Program: The BAA documents wildlife sightings by residents and sends regular updates to BAA members.

• BAA Committees: Over 65 BAA members (not including BOD members) currently serve on our committees. This is terrific—but we even want more community involvement. To be involved, you may contact any of the names listed below or contact the BAA office. Members of the Board of Directors and BAA members chair the following committees to address specific issues affecting our community.

◦ Bel-Air Beautification & Maintenance - Renvy Pittman (Co-Chair), Tawny Sanders (Co-Chair and BAA BOD)

◦ Neighborhood Watch and Emergency Preparedness - Dr. Mark Goodman (Co-Chair), John Morris (Co-Chair), Gail Sroloff (BAA BOD), Maureen Levinson (BAA BOD)

◦ Planning & Land Use - Dan Love (Co-Chair and BAA BOD), Maureen Levinson (Co-Chair and BAA BOD), Steven Myers (BAA BOD), James Hyman (BAA BOD)

◦ Street Safety - Margie Perenchio (Chair), Marcia Hobbs (BAA BOD), Nook Supahongkhon (BAA BOD)

◦ Wildlife Watch Program (coyotes, stray cats, lost pets) - Jamie Meyer (Chair and BAA BOD)

◦ Membership/Community Outreach - Jamie Meyer (Chair and BAA BOD)

If you have not yet joined, we encourage you to do so immediately. Please become a member, get involved, join a committee, email us with your concerns!

With much appreciation,

Marcia Hobbs, Association Chair

Daniel J Love, President and Acting Treasurer

Maureen Levinson, Vice President

Jamie Meyer, Secretary

Contact Information:

Bel Air Association

100 Bel Air Road

Los Angeles, CA 90077

Phone: 310-474-3527

Email: baassociation100@gmail.com

Website: www.belairassociation.org

Beginning tomorrow: LADWP to begin work on water main at Copa de Oro and Bel-Air Road

Beginning tomorrow, June 2, 2016, LADWP will be replacing approximately 600 feet of 8” water main on Copa de Oro from Bel-Air road to Bellagio Road. In addition, they will be replacing 200 feet of 4: water main on Madrono Road and Saint Cloud Road. The project estimate for completion is in 10 weeks.

Crews will be working Monday through Friday, between 7:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Residents will be notified in advance if any planned interruption in water service.

Parking will be restricted while work is in progress. Cars left in the street during working hours may be subject to tow.

Below is the notification letter from LADWP should you require further information.

Community Reminder: Pancake Breakfast at Fire Station 71 - This Sunday 9:00-Noon

Join the fun with our Firefighters at Fire Station 71 and a Pancake Breakfast. Donations will directly benefit Fire Station 71.

LOCATION:

Fire Station 71 107 S. Beverly Glen Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90024

At Sunset and Beverly Glen/Bel-Air Road—across the street from the Bel-Air East Gate. See you there!

A Response and Clarification to the Ron Hudson/Bruce Kuyper Email of May 8, 2016

To those of you who may have received an email from Ron Hudson and Bruce Kuyper (below), a brief response from Dan Love, President of the Bel-Air Association:

Please disregard the email sent today by Ron Hudson/Bruce Kuyper.

As you all know Bruce is no longer Secretary and Ron is no longer President.  We believe at some point that message will sink in.

A salient point--which they, of course, left out, is that there is a Motion to Strike their Complaint scheduled for May 27.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel J. Love

President, Bel-Air Association

 

BEL-AIR ASSOCIATION'S RESPONSE TO THIS EMAIL FROM RON HUDSON/BRUCE KUYPER:

June 1, 2016 Court Hearing to Determine Invalidity of March 17, 2016 “Special Meeting”; May 11, 2016 Annual Meeting of Members Postponed to June 29, 2016; and May 11, 2016 Special Meeting Canceled

 

Dear Bel-Air Association Members and Community:

Further to our last communication to you (April 22), the court has set a hearing date on June 1, 2016 to determine whether the purported March 17, 2016 “special meeting” by members of the Bel Air Homeowners Alliance was an invalid meeting of the Bel-Air Association. (Our prior communication to you is available here. Anyone who is interested may review copies of our complaint here and our opening briefhere.)

Because the court hearing is set to take place after May 11, 2016, the date previously set by the Association’s Board of Directors for the Annual Meeting of the Association’s Members, the Association’s Board met on Friday afternoon to postpone the Annual Meeting until June 29, 2016.

Additionally, the Board canceled the Special Meeting of Members that it had previously set at the request of some of the same Alliance members for the same date (May 11, 2016) because, among other reasons, those Alliance members have publicly communicated their withdrawal of their request that the Association hold that Special Meeting.

We know how confusing the situation is with the current litigation pending to determine who are the valid representatives entitled to control the Association, especially with all of the desperate takeover actions by and communications from the Alliance members purporting to act on behalf of the Association, including the incessant, biased “articles” published in the Beverly Hills Courier, which has Alliance member Marcia Hobbs as its Publisher. But the good news is that we expect a favorable court decision resolving the situation on or soon after June 1.

Please be comforted in knowing that we will continue to fight for your interests and seek to hold these Alliance members accountable for their unauthorized, harmful and selfish actions.

Sincerely,

Ron Hudson Your Bel-Air Association President

Welcome to the Official Bel-Air Association

Dear Bel-Air Association Members and Prospective Members,

As you know, at the Bel-Air Association March 17th Special Members' Meeting resulted in the election of a new group of Directors. The new Directors include: Marcia Hobbs (Association Chair); Dan Love (President & acting Treasurer); Maureen Levinson (Vice President); Jamie Meyer (Secretary); James Hyman, Steven Myers, Tawny Sanders, Gail Sroloff, and Sopavan (Nook) Suphamongkhon.

We have already started revitalizing the Bel-Air Association. Community involvement is essential. For those of you who have not joined the Bel-Air Association and wish to join us, please go to http://www.belairassociation.org and click on "membership."  If more convenient, please come by the office with your check in the amount of $350 made payable to the "Bel Air Association" and mail/hand deliver to the Bel-Air Association at 100 Bel Air Road, Los Angeles, CA 90077.

The Bel-Air Association is committed to aggressively representing the community in dealing with out of control construction and land use issues. While these efforts will require significant time and resources, we will not neglect other community needs! To be the Bel-Air we can be most proud of we need your participation. We are actively seeking member volunteers on the following committees:

1.  Planning & Land Use

2.  Bel Air Beautification & Maintenance

3.  Neighborhood Watch and Preparedness

4.  Wildlife Watch Program

5.  Membership/Community Involvement

Please contact the Bel-Air Association at info@belairassociation.org or call at 310-474-3527 to let us know which committee that you would like to participate and/or any suggestions for additional committees.

We have created new website at  http://www.belairassociation.org/.  On the website, you will find current information, Board Member biographies, the new bylaws, links to report violations and other informative information. You may also call the Bel Air Association at 310-474-3527 at any time Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm, or send us a message by clicking on “Send Us a Message” button.

Warmly,

The Bel-Air Association Board Members