Archive for the ‘Hillside’ Category

PlanCheckNC Meeting Minutes for 3-9-14

April 11th, 2014

PlanCheckNC – Los Angeles

Minutes: Mar. 9, 2014

Chair: Cindy Cleghorn –

David Lara, Building & Safety Dept., Asst. Bureau Chief-Code Enforcement

40% are zoning issues (parking, fences, uses).

Frank Lara, principal sign investigator

Reactive, based on complaints received (may not be anonymous).
No longer have the PACE (proactive inspections) team, which would do public education and send notices in advance to target areas with many problems and visual blight.

Process: Issue order to comply with inspection fee ($256), 30 days to fix problem and compliance inspection in 45 days. If fail to comply, fee increases to $550 + interest. City can place lien for unpaid fee. If legitimate excuse, fee is excised.

Abandoned construction sites: Can only fence it off, will remain ugly until construction re-starts.

Community care facilities: Nuisance abatement is the governing law.
Doing an assessment of property is difficult, can’t determine who actually lives in building.
This is a problem with the <6 residents properties.
DBS can assess illegal construction and prosecute that.
DBS and City Attorney have had success with trained staff, but need funding to re-activate.

Pasadena does inspections at close of escrow to ensure code compliance.
LAHD enforces Building Code and Zoning for existing.
Building and Safety enforces during construction.
Lack of smoke detectors is problem (fires in illegal attic/garage conversions) – more inspectors are needed.
NCs should promote criminal and financial risks of illegal conversions for housing.
Home business uses: DBS will respond to complaints, Bureau of Street Services can enforce on public or private property.
Inspectors cannot report observed violation on another property if on a call for another property, unless it’s a safety hazard.

Dick Platkin, retired planner (
Teaches planning at USC, CityWatch writer, Beverly Wilshire HOA.

Density Bonus Ordinance (implements SB1818):
Best advocates for a fair program were Jane Usher (fired by Mayor Villaraigosa for taking strong stands) and Noel Weiss (attorney, active in tenant rights).
Incentives are easy variances with limited CEQA review and quick approval.

Grants discretionary approvals without sufficient public notice and limit rights to appeal, as part of DIR process. State does provide criteria to reject (no financial need, detailed environmental impacts).
No connection to General Plan – it’s a top-down legislation.
Growth is targeted anywhere, not targeted to smart growth areas.
Circumvents CEQA but limiting environmental review while exceeding zoning.
No evidence that it actually increases affordable housing – many cheap apartments are demolished and replaced by condos and luxury apartments.

Suggestions to increase notification and radius for those allowed to appeal (only adjacent parcels).

Cute bungalows are being replaced by huge mansions that run to the property lines.
General Plan protects “scale and character” but McMansions are continually approved.
Gail Goldberg also got fired as Planning Director for trying to protect neighborhoods.
Baseline Ordinance was gutted by bonuses that aren’t enforced and are too easily achieved, and create out-of-character houses. A base FAR of 0.5 can increase to 0.73 with no real, certified benefit to the neighborhood.

Garages are exempt, so an extra 400 sf is allowed.
A “green” design is given a bonus, but city does not require this to be certified.
25% of the front is required to be recessed for articulation (minimal impact).
Recess 2nd story by 25% (stepback), but information is not readily available on the plans.
During demolition, little evidence that asbestos and lead paint is remediated per safety codes.
During demolition and construction, little evidence that separation of debris for recycling is done.

Solution is to limit base FAR to 0.42.

West Hollywood has 45-day moratorium and overlay district to protect neighborhoods. Cities have legal right to do legal actions like this.

L.A. does Residential Floor Area Districts (overlay zones) to reduce FARs. City should do citywide, instead of patchwork (done in Brentwood, Valley Village). New districts are rarely approved. Suggestion to get RFA districts inserted into Community Plans.

City should establish formal relationship with County Dept. of Public Health and SCAQMD for neighbor notification and enforce lead paint and asbestos removal.

Other issues:

Billboards: Why is any grandfathering of existing, illegal signs being considered? All altered signs are illegal.
State law says that if no determination on legality within 5 years of installation, city must be the party to determine that it’s illegal. Owner would not have to prove it’s legal.

Trees: Illegal to remove protected trees (only 5 are listed – black walnut, California oak, western Sycamore, diadora). Need permit to plant / remove any tree.

Re-Code LA zoning revisions: Big push to trade green design elements for higher densities.

Murals: City cannot regulate content.
May not have commercial / advertising, but some new murals have them.

Join the forum discussion on this post

Baseline Hillsie Ordinance Approved by City Council

March 8th, 2011

Greetings All:

This is to let you know that the Baseline Hillside Ordinance (CPC-2010-581-CA; Council File No. 10-1001) was heard by the City Council on Friday, March 4, 2010.  The Ordinance received 10 Yes votes and 0 No votes, and will go back to the City Council one more time for a “Second Reading” next Friday, March 18, 2011.  It will only need 8 votes to be officially adopted.

For more details, please refer to the online Council File at the following link:

What’s Next?

Please note that the number of days the Mayor has to act has been updated below.

According to Section 250 of the City Charter, the Mayor has 10 days to act on it – meaning he can act on it on the same day, or 10 days later.  Assuming the Mayor approves it, the City Clerk’s Office will then post the adopted Ordinance for a period of 10 days and a 30-day effective date will begin after that.  Simply put, the earliest an Ordinance can realistically go into effect  is 40 to 50 days after it is adopted by the City Council.

When we have an effective date, we will email the individuals on this interest list.
Projects in Early Design Stages, Submitted for Discretionary Actions, and/or in Plan Check

For those of individuals working on projects which are currently in the early design stages or is waiting for a discretionary action of some sort, please use the information above to gauge whether you will be able to submit for plan check prior to the effective date of the proposed Baseline Hillside Ordinance.  Just to clarify for all, any property zoned R1, RS, RE, or RA which is designated as Hillside Area pursuant to Section 12.03 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) will eventually be subject to the Baseline Hillside Ordinance if it is adopted by the City Council; please refer to ZIMAS ( under the “Planning and Zoning” tab to find your “Hillside Area (Zoning Code)” designation.

Pursuant to Section 12.26 A.3 of the LAMC, any project which is accepted by the Department of Building and Safety for plan check with a complete set of plans and for which the fees have been paid prior to the effective date of an Ordinance will be considered to be a Vested Development Plan; meaning that the applicable regulations in place prior to this change will continue to apply.  However, there are some limitations to this provision that you should be aware of, but the more relevant ones are that you have 18 months after the fee is paid, and that you cannot make changes to those plans which increase or decrease the height, floor area, or occupant load of the proposed structure by more than 5%.  Feel free to reference our online Municipal Code for more details (; go to Chapter 1, Article 2, Section 12.26, Subsection A, Subdivision 3.

The only way to “vest” a typical single-family development project under the current Code is through the Vested Development Plan provision summarized above.  Applications for, or approval of discretionary actions (i.e. Zoning Administration Determinations, Adjustments, Variances, etc.) prior to the effective date does not confer vesting rights to a project.  If you are not able to submit for plan check to the Department of Building & Safety prior to the effective date of the Baseline Hillside Ordinance, it is recommended that you consider the proposed hillside provision when making design choices or determining a course of action.

Useful Links
April 22, 2010 City Planning Commission Staff Report:
May 27, 2010 City Planning Commission Staff Report:
City Planning Commission Determination Letter:
City Attorney Report (contains the LATEST VERSION of the Ordinance):
Online Council File:

Feel free to share this information to anyone you feel might be interested.

If you received this email via forwarded message from someone other than myself, and you want to obtain updates directly from the Department, please email and ask to be added to the interest list.  Please type “Add Me To Hillside Notification List” in the subject line and provide your group/organization/company affiliations and contact information (please include at least your ZIP Code).

Facebook™ Users: Look for the Baseline Hillside Ordinance page; add the page and receive updates in your news feed.  You can also view our events calendar and participate in discussion boards.

As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact myself or Jennifer Driver at or at (818) 374-9916.
Erick Lopez, City Planner
City of Los Angeles – Department of City Planning
Office of Zoning Administration – Code Studies
200 N. Spring St., Room 701
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 978-1323
(213) 978-0597 – fax

Meeting Report for May 8, 2010

May 16th, 2010

Simplification of the Zoning Code
Guest Speakers.

Tom Rothmann, City Planning Department. Contact Information:
Alan Bell, City Planning Department. Contact Information:

Tom Rothmann and Alan Bell of the City Planning Department provided an update on the four-Phase Code Simplification Program that is presently underway. The goal is to complete this program in September 2010.

This streamlining of the Zoning Code has been undertaken to update the outdated Zoning Code now in use. Further, the simplification of the Code is seen as an opportunity to make the process more efficient. This is a particularly relevant issue as the City Planning Department staff has been reduced from approximately 400 to 240 employees. Further, the remaining staffers are being furloughed 10 per cent of the time.

The Projected Schedule for this Program will run from April through September 2010 as shown below:

The CPC/Approvals Phase Goal Dates as presented by the Planning Department are as follows:
June 2010. CPC Study Session Presentation – Overview of upcoming 6 ordinances.
July 2010. Multiple Entitlements/Approvals: Synchronize the expiration periods for projects with two or more discretionary land use approvals
Core Findings: Eliminate redundancy and update core findings to provide a better framework for analyzing the merits of proposed development projects
August 2010. Planned Unit Developments (PUDs): Provide opportunities for innovative, high quality master planned projects
1st Half of September 2010. Administrative Exceptions: Provide an abbreviated review process for minor deviations from the zoning code
Plan Approvals Process: Consolidate and make procedures for reviewing proposed modifications to existing projects clear and consistent
2nd Half of September 2010. Specific Plan/Supplemental Use District Streamlining: Create Administrative Clearance’ as an enabling tool in §11.5.7 and §12.32
On June 10, 2010, the City Planning Commission meeting will include a Presentation of an Overview of upcoming six ordinances. This implementation of the CPC Study Session Presentation will be the opportunity for stakeholders to become acquainted with more specific information of the goals of the simplification program.
An update on the Code Simplification will be included at each of the monthly PlanCheckNC Program through the tenure of the Code Simplification Program.

The PlanCheckNC Task Force Zoning Code Simplification Program will be collecting information on the concerns and suggestions regarding the Simplification Program and the proposed changes to the Zoning Code. For further information about this Task Force, contact: Maggi Fajnor, Chair, PlanCheckNC at

An electronic copy of the handout for the update presented to PlanCheckNC is available upon request by sending an email to Maggi Fajnor, Chair, PlanCheckNC at or to the Planning Department.

L.A.’s Planning Crisis and What Should be Done About it.
Guest Speaker — Dick Platkin, Senior Planner and Policy Analyst with Tierra Concepts. Mr. Platkin is retired from the City Planning Department and now is a consultant in the private sector. Contact information:

The City’s current General Plan Framework was prepared in 1995 and is based on the 1990 census. The General Plan is in need of an up date to reflect present day population patterns and stakeholder needs. Any plan reviews should use 2010 census data because the city’s situation has changed since 1990. The Infrastructure Elements of the General Plan were written in the 1960s and have not been updated. Further, there have been no data gathered to prove that density bonuses have produced more affordable housing.

Most Neighborhood Councils focus on discretionary actions, not planning. What is needed is for communities to be proactive and initiate “bottoms-up” plans. With 80 per cent of all projects granted by right, one should focus on reviewing the overall Community Plan, rather than on specific projects. The redone plans for Granada Hills and Hollywood both allowed increased density, which meant that more projects will be built “by right.” The Capital Improvement Plan for public agencies’ sectoral budgeting should have been submitted to the City Planning Commission for review and approval, but that never happened, so there has been no review of public development projects.

Retired planner Gary Speth gave one example of this bottoms-up planning. The Northeast Community Plan was community initiated and prepared and was adopted by the City Council on June 15, 1999. Specific Plans and HPOZs are other models for grass-roots initiated planning.

An electronic copy of the PowerPoint for this program presented to PlanCheckNC is available upon request by sending an email to Maggi Fajnor, Chair, PlanCheckNC at or request directly from Dick Platkin.

Other Opportunities for Involvement and Contact Information.

Neighborhood Councils that are not receiving the ENS Electronic Reports and/or Project Packets or are noting errors in these reports should contact: Ed Hunt, Area Representative, PlanCheckNC at Ed will be collecting data and assisting with problem solving on these issues.

Adrienne O’Niell, Vice Chair PlanCheckNC is coordinating a Task Force addressing issues related to SB1818 ordinance, density bonuses, and other related issues. To be part of that effort contact Adrienne O’Niell at

PlanCheckNCLA Programs are held on the Second Saturday of the month from 10:00 am- 12 noon at the Historic Downtown Outreach Center, 114 W 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The next PlanCheckNCLA Program will be on Saturday, June 12.

Baseline Hillside Ordinance at CPC on 4-22-10 – 8:30 a.m.

April 17th, 2010

Greeting All,
This is email to confirm that the Baseline Hillside Ordinance (CPC-2010-581-CA) will go before the City Planning Commission on Thursday, April 22, 2010 (Item No. 7).  The meeting will start at 8:30 AM and will he located at:
Van Nuys City Hall, Council Chamber, 2nd Floor
14410 Sylvan Street
Van Nuys, CA 91401
You can download the following documents by following the links:
If you cannot attend the meeting in person, you should be able to listen to it over a touch-tone phone by calling CouncilPhone at (213) 621-CITY, (310) 547-CITY, (310) 471-CITY, or at (818) 904-9450.
The Commission has adopted rules regarding written submissions to ensure that it has reasonable and appropriate opportunity to review your materials. The mailing and email addresses, deadlines, page limits, and required numbers of copies for your advance submissions may be found at under “Forms and Instructions”.  Day of hearing submissions (15 copies must be provided) are limited to 2 pages plus accompanying photographs, posters, and PowerPoint presentations of 5 minutes or less. Non-complying materials will NOT be distributed to the Commission.  [Direct Link:]
Feel free to forward this information to anyone you feel might be interested.
If you received this email via forwarded message from someone other than myself, and you want to obtain updates directly from the Department, please email and ask to be added to the interest list.  Please type “Add Me To Hillside Notification List” in the subject line and provide your group/organization/company affiliations and contact information (please include at least your ZIP Code).
Facebook™ Users: Look for the Baseline Hillside Ordinance page; add the page and receive updates in your news feed.  You can also view our events calendar and participate in discussion boards.
As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact myself or Jennifer Driver at or at (818) 374-5034.
Thank you for your attention.
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