City committee approves plan to densify near Expo Line stations

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A proposal to add density in a handful Westside neighborhoods along the Expo Line’s path is chugging right along.

The Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan—which would allow taller mixed-use buildings to be built around Expo Line stations in Palms, Rancho Park, Sawtelle, Mid-City, and Cheviot Hillswas approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council’s planning and land use management committee.

The plan would change zoning in a half-mile radius around five stations: Culver City, Palms, Expo/Sepulveda, Westwood/Rancho Park, and Expo/Bundy. The zoning changes would allow office space and residential uses in industrial areas, creating, potentially, more density in the neighborhoods.

It would also change zoning in a small corner of West LA along Bundy Drive, dubbed “the Bundy Triangle,” to allow for multi-family housing—apartments, for example—to be built where only single-family homes are allowed now.

The plan was OK’d with several tweaks that would, if ultimately approved by the full City Council, strengthen affordable housing requirements and scale back proposed building heights in one area.

One of the biggest changes approved by the committee, at the request of councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents the area around the Expo/Bundy station, was to require every residential project to include “some level” of affordable housing if they take advantage of density bonus incentives.

He also asked to tweak the plan’s language to clarify that permanent supportive housing would be among the new types of development allowed in the plan’s areas.

And he requested even more housing units in new live-work projects built around the Expo/Bundy station, putting housing right alongside new employment sites.

Councilmember Paul Koretz—who has historically shied away from adding density to single-family neighborhoods—voted in favor of the the plan.

But he was granted a request to scale back building heights in an area on Pico Boulevard, east of Sepulveda Boulevard, roughly between the Expo/Sepulveda and the Westwood/Rancho Park stations.

There, the plan would have allowed for buildings to reach heights of 72 feet; Koretz asked for future buildings to be capped at 50 feet instead.

A statement from Koretz’s office says that change reflects input from residents after the city planning commission made modifications to the plan in October, “some of which were in contradiction with what we believe are the appropriated capacities for the proposed change areas.”

It was a sentiment echoed by a representative for the Westside Neighborhood Council, who spoke at the meeting.

But at least one neighborhood council in Koretz’s district was disappointed with the councilmember’s request.

“Folks in well-to-do neighborhoods along Expo are more concerned with shadows on houses than whether there are roofs over their fellow Angelenos,” said Andres Cuervo, a member of the Palms Neighborhood Council.

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