Woo, Constituents Say Apartment Plan Would Hurt Schools
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Woo and several of his constituents Tuesday complained that a proposed 222-unit apartment project in Silver Lake would increase traffic congestion and add students to already crowded schools in the area.
Woo and residents who live near the proposed three-story apartment development spoke at a meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee, urging it to recommend to the City Council that an exemption to a building moratorium in the area be permanently taken away from the developer, UIC Group (USA).
The issue was put over until a Nov. 12 hearing.
In Limbo Since February
The project has been in limbo since February, when the council, in an unprecedented action, suspended a previously granted exemption to the building moratorium on any buildings that exceed densities allowed by the Silver Lake-Echo Park community plan. The moratorium was imposed to give the city time to bring its lot-by-lot zoning into conformance with the more restrictive plan.
The council’s unusual move came at the urging of the Los Angeles Board of Education, which said it feared that crowded schools in the area will become more so if such a large apartment complex is built.
The proposed complex, which would be built on the site of the now-demolished Monte Sano Hospital at Glendale Boulevard and Waverly Drive, is nearly three times the size of the maximum 84 housing units the Silver Lake-Echo Park District Plan would allow on the 3.5-acre vacant lot.
Woo, who defeated 13th District Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson in a hotly contested race last April, promised during his campaign to try to get UIC’s moratorium exemption rescinded.
Woo said he has introduced a motion before the City Council to change the zoning for the Monte Sano site and further restrict development there. The proposed zoning change would allow a maximum of 64 housing units on the site.
Council Granted Exemption
The City Council had granted the exemption to UIC in January on a motion by Stevenson, who argued that the developer had spent millions of dollars to purchase the site and prepare it for development before the building moratorium was imposed. The moratorium went into effect last December, one month after UIC had submitted its plans for the apartment project.
UIC officials said the company has invested $3.9 million in the Silver Lake project since purchasing the site in 1980.
But Stevenson, facing pressure from the school board, a month later went back to the council to ask that the exemption be suspended. Some concerns also had been voiced by other city officials regarding traffic congestion and inadequate parking in the area.
Schools that could be affected by the development are Ivanhoe Elementary, Thomas Starr King Junior High and John Marshall High School, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Unified School District said.
The school district provided some projections that were included in the Planning Department report, predicting that an apartment development the size of the UIC one would increase the school population in Silver Lake from nine to 37 students. The biggest problem would be at the elementary-school level, the report said.
UIC contends that the proposed building would not greatly affect school population because most of the apartments would be designated for single residents. The developer has said that there would be 153 studio apartments, 51 one-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom apartments.
According to a UIC handout, “The project has been designed to attract single people and married couples, without schoolchildren, who are professionals working in the downtown Los Angeles or Glendale areas, as well as senior citizens.”
The project has qualified for city revenue bond financing, which requires that 20% of the apartments be designated for people with moderate incomes ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 annually, according to the UIC handout.