Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Small-lot development in the works for Victor Heights [updated]

white knoll

VICTOR HEIGHTS —  A pioneer of small-lot developments is working to build 13 townhomes at the top of Victor Heights, the densely packed neighborhood between Echo Park and Chinatown.

Heyday Development, which built some of the first small-lot projects on the Eastside, is now seeking city permission to build the 13 homes at 1118 W. White Knoll Drive, according  the Department of  Planning.  The developers are also seeking to move 2,000 cubic feet of soil from the site, which was purchased last year for $1.55 million.

The developers would carve up the now empty lot under the city’s small-lot subdivision ordinance, which allows for more intense, single-family home development than typically allowed, primarily by reducing the spaces between each home and the boundaries of the lot.  The increasing popularity of small lot projects among developers and buyers, however, has also triggered concern and opposition among existing residents concerned about over development, increased traffic congestion and loss of privacy.

The Eastsider has contacted Heyday, owned by brothers Kevin and Hardy Wronske, for more details about the project, which appears to be the first small lot development for Victor Heights.

A proposed townhouse development is a few blocks away from where The Elysian,  a former office building turned into a pricey apartment tower, opened last year at the base of Victor Heights on Sunset Boulevard.

* Update: A previous version of this story said the development would include 14 homes based on online city records. But developer Kevin Wronske says they plan to build only 13 homes with a central driveway. The five homes on the south side are two stories and about 1,600 square-feet with 2 bedrooms and 2-1/2 baths. The homes on the north row will be three stories with around 1,900 square-feet and 3 bedrooms and 3-1/2 baths.

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  1. Please stop claiming that small lot allows more units “than typically allowed.” That’s patently untrue. Small lots are only permitted where the city also allows more dense apartment and condo-style development. Small lot was intended to be a third option to actually allow people to purchase homes rather than have only apartments or condos as their housing options where the zoning already allows more units per lot than you’d find in a single-family residential zoned area (where apartments, condos and small lot are not allowed).

    • are we reading the same article? the article I read says “more intense, single-family home development than typically allowed” which is not inaccurate.

      i’m very interested in seeing how heyday deals w/ 14 units. their projects have been getting better & better but I think that’s mostly because they’re small (under 10 units).

    • Gee, LAifer, you sure twist things. First, the story does not say small lot subdivisions allow more units. It said they allow more intense, single-family home development than otherwise would be allowed – and that is what they do. Once you subdivide that bigger lot, very little, if anything, could be built on those small lots under even R4 zoning.

      Once that lot is subdivided into various separate lots, the zone, even if say R4, applies separately to each lot. That means they would each have to have the proper setbacks, front, back and side. In R4, that’s a 15-foot front yard setback, a 10-foot back setback, and a minimum of 5-foot side setbacks. They are building these things with 2-inch side setbacks, and no front setback. Now, don’t forget, R-4 gives density according to the square footage of the property. Once you cut it to these small lots, and with the setback proper, I’m not sure there is enough square footage left to build anything under the zoning – if it were not for the SLS ordinance.

      The SLS ordinance lets them pretend they are not separate lots, that they actually are one big lot. This SLS ordinance allows them to throw all those setbacks out the window, along with any other zoning requirements that get in the way. This SLS ordinance allows them to ignore the zoning and to build on each of the small lots as if they really still were a big lot — and to hell with any open space, no yards at all, just crammed in like in a sardine can.

      And I will add, these things are going to be explosive going forward. Unlike in a condo, where condo rules dictate standards for the entire project, there is no such cooperation or oversight in these developments. Have fun when your next door neighborhood 2 inches from you isn’t interested in maintaining in his building, throws trash around the place, dumps stuff all over, lets graffiti remain on his home, and blars music late into the night – there are no condo rules to stop them. It will only be a matter of time until these places get recognized for that and go downhill and eventually become dilapidated — and people remember the good old days of those irritating condo rules. But by then it will be too late – these horrors are flooding in here and will already be in place.

      • Actually, the SLSO divides one multi-family lot up and creates multiple single family parcels. Effectively, its really spot-zoning. In a sea of multi-family zoned parcels, a select one or two are converted from multi-family into single-family, chopped up into micro lots.. They don’t retain the underlying zoning since the requirements that go with multi-family zoning don’t apply to small lot projects.

        There’s no open space requirement, since they let them shift that to the roof-top deck, which completely undermines the purpose of shared open space– a place for a community to enjoy, hopefully together. There’s no ADA requirement, as there is for multi-family. These things have 4 levels, making them a horrible option for aging in place. There’s no required guest parking like there is for condos.

        But, most importantly for the developer is that they are fee-simple single family homes– not condos. There’s no HOA to sue for construction defects 10 years later which is what this is ALL ABOUT!!! Get in quick– tear it down– build it fast and cheap– sell it quick– run away with the profits — never look back.

  2. We need a moratorium on new small lots until the loopholes in the ordinance are fixed. Developers are taking advantage of the city’s inability to enforce the ordinance guidelines. the guidelines are generally sound but are never followed. Please sign the moratorium petition: https://t.co/nfJCacaIj4

    • I tried to sign your petition but it kicked me out because it doesn’t recognize my Echo Park address. Sorry!

      • It worked for me, and I’m in Echo Park. Please sign the petition. We need design guidelines for these small lot developments and neighborhood review of these projects to ensure they blend with existing neighborhood character. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be built– only saying that they need to blend with and fit in to the visual neighborhood context in terms of massing, scale and character.

        They do it in Pasadena. Why can’t LA figure this out?


  4. Small lots are the only viaduct of introduction into these overly-expensive neighborhoods like Silver Lake et al for a working professional family. There is nothing wrong with revisiting the guidelines and propel was is working and replace what is not. What I don’t get is this stupid moratorium talk. We are already in a housing deficit in the City. Just tailor the guidelines but please continue to build.

  5. There are a lot of cool SLSO projects. It really depends on which one you are talking about. I know there are down sides to density. There are also upsides. Neighborhoods are not static and “blending with neighborhood character” is not always a good thing. The character of some streets and neighborhoods is improved by SLSO projects, even if it is built in a different style. “Blending in” with a bunch of butchered, stuccoed boxes with plastic windows is not going to improve anything. Architecture is a rich and living art in LA. Lets support it! Also, look around your neighborhood. There are probably a bunch of little apartment blocks that were built in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, etc, and you don’t even notice them as being dense living. It is also worth pointing out that modern living is moving away from yards and common outdoor space. New single family homes are huge and have minimum setbacks. Kids don’t play in the back yard any more. They go to soccer or baseball or play video games. . We have huge garages and decks.


  7. Despite what some of you fortunate homeowners think on the Eastsider, LA is actually building very little urban housing for a city of our size:


    This is a big reason why rents and mortgages are so bananas. And unlike other expensive US urban housing markets (SF, NYC, DC, Boston, etc.) we have no shortage of infill opportunity. Central LA’s got strip malls and surface parking lots on tap.

    It’s cool, we get it… you got yours, congrats! Now how about letting the rest of us have a sliver of the pie? Times are tough for the younger generations, all we’re asking is for a fair shake.

  8. Corner Soul, you’re right on point. Some people are hard-wired to resist change. (At least the type of change that they, personally don’t like.) L.A. needs more housing. Much of the “eastside” (which I would call central L.A. (because what on earth would we call those east of the river?)) is in need of tear-downs. Old garden variety houses, with flimsy walls and windows. The newer construction is so much more efficient.

    But lost in all of this ad these discussions is any acknowledgement of private property rights. The anti-reintegration folks are largely socialist thinkers. They just don’t know it. Some are home owners, and some simply rent a room somewhere in 90026 and feel that they have the right to restrict owners in what they want to do. I think it is a combination of socialist thinking mixed in with venom toward anyone who doesn’t fit the mold of the SL or EP artsy crowd, who are largely hold-overs from the 80s and 90s. They don’t like young, child-bearing couples at all.

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