Western/Franklin Project Delayed, Appeals Filed

A controversial new 96-unit mixed-use apartment complex planned for the corner of Franklin and Western avenues.

A controversial new 96-unit mixed-use apartment complex planned for the corner of Franklin and Western avenues.

An April 27th Los Angeles City Planning Dept. hearing for the controversial 5-story development proposed for the intersection of Franklin and Western avenues has now been postponed to a later date at the developer’s request, according to public records.

The project, a mixed-use apartment complex, would include 96 residential units, and roughly 5,550 square feet of commercial space and would replace an existing gas station, duplex and single family home.

Thus far, public sentiment on the development has been split, with the project’s supporters praising its inclusion of 16 units of much-needed affordable housing, eco-conscious design and public transit incentives, while detractors say it is out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood, will exacerbate the area’s already untenable traffic and parking issues and will set a precedent for future developments.

Additionally, those against the project say developers have flouted the Vermont Western Station Neighborhood Area Plan (SNAP)—specifically designed for the neighborhood to encourage area-appropriate development—and have not conducted sufficient environmental review, considering the proposed project’s proximity to an earthquake fault line and hazardous waste, in the form of underground gasoline storage tanks.

According to Aaron Green, a consultant representing the developer, the hearing extension was requested to allow for more time to address such issues and possibly reach a “mutual compromise” with those opposed.

“We wanted to make sure that we did everything we possibly could to speak with the neighbors who have concerns and to try and incorporate them,” said Green.

But compromise may not prove so easy to achieve—thus far, 11 appeals have been filed by those urging the city not to grant the project’s requested zoning changes, with the Los Feliz Improvement Assoc. (LFIA) and the newly formed Franklin and Western Improvement Assoc. (FWIA) among the appellants.

“The [p]roject, as proposed, will tower over all other, mainly residential development,” read the FWIA’s appeal. “Its excessive height will drastically diminish or completely eradicate available light to the residents … plunging them into a perpetually dreary view-scape.”

The Los Feliz Neighborhood Council (LFNC), too, voted 12-7 April 18th to oppose the project unless it adhered to SNAP zoning codes—procedural issues prompted them to reopen the issue for a second vote after the board initially failed to reach a consensus on the matter in March.

Public comment at the April 18th meeting was split between homeowners, who mostly opposed the project, and renters, who mostly supported it.

LFIA President Nyla Arslanian said the development was “too high, too massive in scale, and [would] severely impact the surrounding neighborhood,” while former East Hollywood Neighborhood Council President, and now Los Feliz resident, David Bell said it was not necessarily the specific project he opposed, but the precedent it set.

“It’s not always about the project that you may like,” said Bell. “It’s the project you don’t like that’s piggybacking on the project you do like.”

Meanwhile, affordable housing remained the biggest factor for supporters, even if it meant granting the developer’s multiple requests for zoning exceptions.

“The market-rate units are going to be built either way,” said Matthew Luery, who chairs the LFNC’s Public Works Committee. “Allowing the [SNAP zone] variances would allow for 16 affordable units.”

Others cited the inevitability of change and Los Angeles’s growing housing crisis.

“There is nothing in Hollywood that’s the same as it was 20 years ago … that’s progress. Things go ahead. We need housing. Things must go ahead,” said one woman, who identified herself only as Vera.

But while some tried to paint the issue as a fight between the haves and have-nots—homeowners versus renters—LFNC Vice President Jon Deutsch struck a conciliatory tone.

“I don’t see NIMBY or YIMBY or selfish people out there, I see people who live in the neighborhood … and deserve to have their opinion heard,” he said.

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