Homeowners in a Race Against Parking Lot

Times Staff Writer

A race is under way in Santa Monica between a developer who wants to build a parking lot next to a residential neighborhood north of Wilshire Boulevard and homeowners who oppose it.

Residents, fearing that the lot would generate more traffic, are asking the City Council to impose strictly residential zoning in the area. They hope the zoning will go into effect before the developer can start construction.

The council on July 9 ordered the city attorney to draft an ordinance limiting six properties on Franklin Street and Centinela Avenue to residential use. Under current zoning, they can be developed for parking or residential use.

The ordinance will be presented to the City Council on Tuesday, according to Deputy City Atty. Jonathan Horne. If it is approved after a second reading, the new zoning will take effect in 30 days, he said.

'Expecting No Problems'

Jean Hunnicutt Uke, who wants to build a parking lot at 1165-67 Centinela Ave., said Thursday she is "expecting no problems" in moving her plans ahead before new zoning can go into effect.

Earlier in the week, rulings by two city advisory boards have given her encouragement.

The Architectural Review Board gave final approval to the project's design and landscaping in a 5-0 vote Wednesday, clearing the way for the project unless an appeal is filed within 10 days.

And earlier in the week, the Planning Commission denied an appeal that Commissioner Derek Shearer had filed against the project.

In a 3-2 vote at a rancorous meeting on Monday, commissioners said Shearer's appeal did not address design issues that were the basis of the architectural board's earlier tentative ruling in favor of the project. They said broader planning issues could not be dealt with in an appeal of the architectural board's decision.

Neighbors Bet on Council

Shearer said on Thursday that neighbors who oppose the parking lot have asked him not to appeal further to the Planning Commission because the matter will be decided when the City Council considers the rezoning ordinance Tuesday.

Novell Duvardo Hendrickson, a spokeswoman for neighbors opposing the parking lot, could not be reached for comment.

Opponents fear that the project would attract more traffic to the congested neighborhood near the busy Wilshire Boulevard commercial district. Also, they are worried because Uke said at the July 9 council meeting that she wants to build a one-story retail store on commercial property she owns on Wilshire, adjacent to the proposed parking lot. This would add even more traffic, they said.

Uke's property on Wilshire is the site of Uncle John's Family Restaurant, which she said would remain should a retail development be added. She said she needs the added parking on Franklin to accommodate the potential retail development.

Shearer urged the Planning Commission to consider the parking and retail projects together, rather than separately, but commissioners refused because no retail proposal has been submitted to the city.

Also, he said that Uke's plan to demolish a duplex to build the parking lot is in violation of the housing element of the city's General Plan. The demolition has been approved by the city's Rent Control Board.

Although the City Council voted to have the rezoning ordinance drafted, it is not clear whether a majority will support the law, especially if it would halt the Uke project, which has received the go-ahead from various city agencies.

At the July 9 meeting, the council rejected a motion by Councilman Dennis Zane to deny permits for redevelopment of the properties, including Uke's, pending the new zoning.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World