The board members deemed the eight-home, for sale development next to the Atwater post office to be out of character for the neighborhood and in a poor location and without adequate parking. “That sounds more like an investment vehicle for landlords,” said board member Alex Ventura.
The 13,700-square foot lot at the corner of Glendale Boulevard and La Clede Avenue will host eight separate single family-homes if the developer wins city approval. Each three-story house will contain three bedrooms and three bathrooms. The houses will be approximately 1,550 square-feet in size and will be priced in the low $600,000’s, according to the developers.
One house will be reserved for low-income buyers, and the project will include 900 square feet of retail space that would use street parking, which stakeholders claimed didn’t exist. Each house will have two parking spaces except for the affordable domicile, which will only have one allocated parking spot, according to project heads at ReThink Development.
Board members criticized the planned development for being too dense and claustrophobic compared to the typical single-family home neighborhoods of Atwater Village and . “I can’t imagine living like that, especially for $600,000,” said board member Karen Knapp. Another board member, Luis Lopez, voiced concern about turning the commercial area into a set of homes because of the limited amount of space for businesses to develop on Glendale, one of the neighborhoods main shopping venues.
The lot was fenced off when the United States Postal Service opted not to continue leasing the parking area as part of long-term cost cutting strategies. Last year the Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to then councilmember and now Mayor Eric Garcetti seeking relief from what she described as “anarchy” as customers jammed into the remaining parking lot. In the past residents have expressed concern that the traffic situation, which overflows onto the key transit vein.
Board member Jayden Brant claimed the now vacant lot was often hit with graffiti and believed placing active homeowners on the property would scare off potential taggers.
A person in attendance supported the project because most of the construction would be done off-site, taking the noise burden away from residents, and because they would be the only Platinum LEED – an environmentally-friendly certification – houses built in Los Angeles for under one million dollars, according to the developers.
In previous meetings, Ventura stated that the council had a policy of not supporting developments utilizing the small lot subdivision because of the dense nature of the projects. He believed single-family homes were a defining characteristic of the neighborhood, a vision that had been contested in the past by fellow board member James Heugas who was absent from the meeting. Huegas had asked the board to keep in mind the renters of the village and other tenants of non-single family abodes.
The council is an advisory body and it has no power to enforce its vote. Final approval rests with the city.
The developers said they didn’t know what they would build on the property, which the company owns, if the city vetoed the plans, but it was pointed out they could build a 29 unit apartment complex without requesting variances.
One stakeholder was happy the council didn’t support a smaller proposal to avoid a rental project.
“Don’t think you’ll be able to muscle this through and have us think you’re giving us a better deal,” he told the developers during debate.
Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.