Archive for August, 2009


August 27th, 2009

The September 1, 2009 Planning & Land Use Management Committee Meeting has been canceled. However, the Hillside Area amendment has been tentatively placed on the September 8, 2009 agenda. I will send an email when this date has been confirmed.

No new updates regarding the Baseline Hillside Ordinance; we are still working on the draft language and hope to get that to the public as soon as possible.

That is all for now. If anyone has any question please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Erick Lopez, City Planner
Department of City Planning
Community Planning Bureau – West Coastal Division
200 N. Spring St., Room 621
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 978-1243
(213) 978-1226 – fax

Prepared by the City of Los Angeles –Department of City Planning


What is the proposal?
A proposal to amend the Zoning Code’s “Hillside Area” definition and create a new Hillside Area Map.

What does the proposal do?
The proposed Hillside Area definition and map will better reflect the true hillsides throughout the City of Los Angeles.

Why is this being proposed?
The current definition is based on Bureau of Engineering Basic Grid Maps and major street boundaries and includes thousands of lots which are not actually hillside. The proposed Hillside Area map utilizes more refined data (USGS topographic information) and new technology that identifies the true topographical hillsides –i.e. contain or are located near areas with strong slopes (15% slope or greater).
The proposal is Step 2 of a 3~step process to protect single-family neighborhoods from out-of-scale development, commonly referred to as mansionization; Step 1 was the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance and Step 3 will be the Baseline Hillside Ordinance.

Who does it affect?
Approximately 51,000 single-family zoned lots which are not truly hillside will have the Hillside Area designation removed.

How does the proposal affect these properties?
Removal of the Hillside Area designation from the 51,000 lots which are not truly hillside, and not located in a Coastal Zone, will have the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance applied to them, thereby protecting these lots from out-of-scale development. This will leave only true hillside lots to be addressed by the Baseline Hillside Ordinance which is in its early stages of development, and will establish new single-family hillside regulations to address out-of-scale development throughout the City’s hillside communities.

Will this proposal remove any existing protection from over development?
No, almost all of the properties where the Hillside Area designation would be removed front on streets with a width greater than 28 feet, so the current Zoning Code hillside regulations do not apply. They would be better protected by the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance. Those properties remaining within the proposed Hillside Area boundaries will have no change.

Will this proposal remove any protection from excessive grading and haul routes?
Current grading regulations are located in the Building Code and are applied based on its own Hillside Grading Area definition. Neither of those will be affected by the proposed Hillside Area amendment; so whether a property remains in, or is being removed from the Hillside Area boundaries it will continue to be subject to the current grading regulations.

Will there be any future opportunities to revise the proposed Hillside Area Map?
Yes, all maps developed and maintained by the Department of City Planning allow for periodic review and revision. Moreover, the opportunity to discuss any possible changes will remain open during the Baseline Hillside Ordinance public outreach and adoption processes.

For more information on the proposed Hillside Area amendment please download the StaffReportavailable at:

If you have any questions or comments, or to be added to the interest list, please contact
City Planner, Erick Lopez at or (213) 978~1243.

Cultural Heritage Ordinance before City Planning Commission on September 10

August 6th, 2009

The City’s updated Cultural Heritage Ordinance will be acted upon by the City Planning Commission on September 10. Mark your calendars for this important preservation measure.

Below is a response by Ken Bernstein to a query from Jane Usher of the unresolved issue concerning historic interiors

Dear Jane,

Yes, you are welcome to share this message with other residents. Thanks so much for checking with me on this. Ken

Message dated 7/10/2009 2:48:44 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time from Ken.Bernstein:
Dear Jane,

I’m sorry that you found my previous response to be disconcerting. As I’d indicated in my last message, our staff report to the City Planning Commission did represent our best professional planning recommendation. At the June 11 CPC hearing, staff was asked by the Commission to look at the issue of interior designation, and to continue discussions with the development community and property owners.

The issue of the designation of private interiors is a very difficult one for planners and preservationists across the country because it raises both legal and practical ambiguities. This issue did not come up in our initial public hearings on the ordinance, nor in the deliberations of a Cultural Heritage Ordinance Working Group that met last year, but was raised forcefully by property owners in recent months and at the CPC. Our response to the CPC was based upon a review of “best practices” in dozens of local ordinances, and we have consulted with the professional staff at the State Office of Historic Preservation.

As we looked more carefully at these practices, we found that the cities we most admire for historic preservation — New York, Charleston, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Sacramento, Philadelphia, and many others — either limit designations to exteriors only or allow designations of only publicly accessible interiors. Pasadena does allow for designation of interior fixtures at its handful of Greene and Greene homes, but otherwise limits its designations to exteriors.

The new proposed ordinance language allows property owners to agree to include their private interior spaces in designations and automatically includes private interiors that are under Mills Act Historical Property Contracts and Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits. These provisions would provide more overall protection of historic interiors than is provided in the other major cities I’ve cited. I hope that this is helpful background in understanding why our staff recommendation evolved on this issue.


City Attorney Neighborhood Forum on Thursday, August 13

August 6th, 2009

Please join the new City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich and his team to learn about the first weeks of the new administration and the legal issues facing your neighborhood. The Forum will be on Thursday, August 13, 2009, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the John Ferraro Council Chambers, 200 N. Spring St., 3rd FL, Los Angeles.

Refreshments will be in the City Hall Rotunda.

For free parking, RSVP by August 10, 2009 to or call (213) 978-1575.

PlanCheckNC Schedule – No Program August 8

August 2nd, 2009

PlanCheckNC will not be meeting on Saturday, August 8, 2008

Mark your calendars and watch for more information on future PlanCheckNC Programs
Saturday, September 12
· Guest Speaker, Eva Yuan-McDaniel, Deputy Director, Planning Department
· NC Best Practices for Land Use and Planning Committees–Early Notification System, Proposed Project Packets and related issues

Saturday, October 10

Saturday, November 14
Guest Speaker, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich

Saturday, December 12
Showcase Historic Downtown Los Angeles

Please share with interested stakeholders.

Maggi Fajnor Cindy Cleghorn
Chair Communications