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Panel Delays Its Decision on Rezoning of San Pedro : Development: The Los Angeles Planning Commission wants to study the effects of lost housing through tougher zoning laws. Slow-growth advocates brace for a fight.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A long-awaited decision on limiting San Pedro’s population and residential development through tougher zoning was delayed for three months Thursday when the Los Angeles Planning Commission said it did not have enough information to assess the impact of such a plan on the community and the city.

By unanimous consent, the commission directed city planners to study the rezoning proposal further and determine, among other things, how many potential housing units would be lost in San Pedro and how that loss would affect both the community’s character and Los Angeles’ housing shortage.

“The easy thing to do would be to say to San Pedro, ‘You’re right. . . . (The downzoning proposals) are great,” Commission President William Luddy said after the meeting. “But one of the things we have to do is consider the implications on a citywide basis.”

Luddy said the postponement did not foretell the commission’s ultimate decision on rezoning San Pedro. Still, many of the community’s slow-growth advocates are bracing for another battle in their effort to preserve single-family neighborhoods and restrict construction of apartments and condominiums.

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Noting that Mayor Tom Bradley’s office is pushing higher-density zoning in some parts of Los Angeles to relieve its housing shortage, San Pedro’s slow-growth leaders said they would not allow that directive to up-end several years of community effort to limit growth.

“What I’m concerned about is that they don’t impose the city’s density issues on this community,” said Roxanne Arian of the Save Old San Pedro Coalition. “If they do, they’ll have a revolt on their hands in San Pedro, I can tell you that.”

The Planning Commission’s demand for more study on rezoning San Pedro followed a two-hour public hearing in which about two dozen residents urged the commission to impose more restrictive zoning regulations than city planners had proposed. Although city planners and a citizens advisory committee had earlier agreed on most zoning proposals, they split on how far to limit future development in two well-established neighborhoods--Old San Pedro and Point Fermin.

Under the proposal pushed by the citizens committee and endorsed by many residents, Point Fermin would be rezoned to allow only single-family housing, not duplexes, and lots in Old San Pedro would be permitted to accommodate no more than two units each, not one for every 2,000 square feet of lot space, as planners have proposed.

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“We have been subjected to a pattern of construction . . . that has been unrelenting,” Greg Smith, president of the Point Fermin Residents Assn., told the commission.

Added Joe Puerta, another slow-growth advocate: “People are not leaving San Pedro just because of price but because the overcrowding is making this a much less desirable place to live. . . . Anything that can be done to control the overcrowding will help keep the San Pedro we love to live in.”

The rezoning proposals, planning commissioners were told, would limit San Pedro’s future population to about 90,000 residents, or 13,000 fewer than would be possible under existing zoning. The community’s population, now 75,000, was driven up by an apartment and condominium boom in the 1980s.

But after hearing the population projections, planning commissioners said they were more concerned with the potential impact of rezoning on San Pedro’s housing stock. And when city planners said they could only guess at that figure--estimating that about 4,800 housing units might not be built--planning commissioners ordered the planners to further study the rezoning.

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The commissioners also directed planners to determine how the community’s future housing stock and population might be affected by other factors, including height limits on properties that fall under the jurisdiction of the state Coastal Commission rather than the city.

Commissioner Theodore Stein told the planning staff that he and other commissioners would be remiss if they approved any rezoning proposals for San Pedro without more analysis of their implications.

Commission President Luddy, however, was more blunt. “Either the facts aren’t here . . . or things that are in here don’t make sense,” he said.

After the meeting, senior city planner Gurdon Miller said his staff would need at least three months to collect the housing data and provide the analysis requested by the commission.

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In the meantime, the community’s zoning is subject to an ordinance adopted two years ago by the City Council that places interim restrictions on new development pending final action on the rezoning.


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