Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beverly Hills Creates New Historic Preservation Incentives

Image via LAT

Beverly Hills isn't known for gracious buyers who want to do well by their beautiful and historic homes. Too many classic homes  like Wallace Neff's Enchanted Hill have been torn down without a clear plan for a property's future. Enchanted Hill was knocked down by Microsoft Billionaire Paul Allen shortly after he purchased the property in 1997 and the site remains empty nearly two decades later. A new incentive that was approved last week by The Beverly Hills City Council will allow the Beverly Hills Planning Committee to give leniency to owners of landmarked properties when it comes to zoning. The goal is to allow current homeowners to add modern luxuries while restoring the home. Beverly Hills has been interested in these incentives since the Cultural Heritage Ordinance was created. The process of these incentives were expedited by work on the Harry Cohn Estate which was landmarked not long after Jerry Bruckheimer purchased it for $23 Million in 2013. It seems Bruckheimer must have been lobbying because it seems this comes ahead of a complete overhaul of the Cultural Historic Ordinance. The goals of this overhaul are to accommodate landmark homes, but sadly it seems, not protect them.

Is Metro Pushing Development at the Cost of the Community?

There's no question mass transit is on the upswing in Los Angeles. The general population may not have noticed quite yet, but they will. LA Metro has been aggressive about pushing their agenda on all fronts planning bus lanes, expansions, light rail and a vast subway line expansion. All of those options are exciting even if they remain years off. The competition of phase two of the Expo Line that revives one of the most popular Red Car lines and reconnects Downtown to Santa Monica via rail will no doubt bring fanfare. It's important to applaud Metro's tenacity when faced with opposition like Beverly Hills High School and their ability to adapt as they research ways to connect the Crenshaw Line to LAX. Just this week Metro announced a potential expansion linking the Red, Orange and Gold lines. All this doesn't mean that Metro gets to ignore the neighborhoods where they are fighting to bring quicker and simpler transportation. Mariachi Plaza, a station on the successful and expanding Gold Line, is stirring up controversy this week. Metro has planned to increase development on this site. The problem is no one in the community was aware of the plans for 120,000-square-feet of retail and office space until Metro voted on the exclusive negotiations to build this project which would use both Metro land and private land. The business owners and local residents were perturbed that while they were promised input, only a handful knew of these plans. Many are concerned about the change this might bring to their neighborhood and the small business owners who have supported this community long before there was a light rail. Metro reacted quickly, pushing the vote on this project back until February allowing enough time for local input. Metro shouldn't be leaving the communities they serve behind as they push their transit agenda and they can't afford to the lose the trust of their riders.

Four-Bedroom in the Outpost Estates has Modern Luxury

Have you always wanted to live in a prestigious, beautiful development in the Hollywood Hills known for its sign? The Outpost Estates is probably not what you had in mind, but it's a historic and classy neighborhood which only allowed the construction of Spanish style homes.  This large plot of land was originally the Outpost of Harrison Gray Otis who served in the Civil War and was the first publisher of the LA Times. As Los Angeles roared to life in the 1920s Charles E. Toberman bought the land and slated it for development, but he kept Otis' name. Toberman, not necessarily a marketer at heart, knew he had to compete with the already famous Hollywood Sign and created a sign of his own, adding neon to Hollywoodland's already successful formula. Despite Toberman's efforts, the Outpost Estates were relegated to live in the shadows of its neighbor to the east. This expansive 1928 mansion, asking $2.399 million, is your chance to get in on this lesser known luxury development.

Surround sound not pictured. >>

LA City Council Wages War on McMansions

Image via Beverly Hills Courier

Ever wondered if your neighbors hate you? Well, now if you live in a McMansion you know that your neighbors and the Los Angeles City Council aren't particularly happy with your aesthetic choices. Los Angeles is a town filled with people who have more money than sense and they love to build the biggest gaudiest house they can on any piece of land. It's the rest of us that have to suffer these eyesores when we drive through neighborhoods we can't afford. The LA City Council is finally taking a stand, but so far only in those ritzy parts of town. On November 4th The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to end the building of these oversized monstrosities, but only in 14 neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are Miracle Mile, Valley Village, North Beverly Grove, Sunset Square, Larchmont Village, Carthay Square, Hombly-Westwood, Oxford Square, The El Sereno-Berkshire Craftsman District, South Hollywood, La Brea Hancock, Faircrest Heights, The Oaks and Old Granada Hills. The rules have yet to be finalized, but everyone seems to agree on the concept. One councilman, Paul Koretz claims the last issue he pushed that had this much support was the banning of puppy mills. The rules could include an outright ban on demolitions or at least limits on the size of new construction. The Los Angeles Building Industry Association tried to lobby against these rules claiming it could disrupt the sale of hundreds of homes. This makes sense because these rules could significantly limit their business. If you aren't lucky enough to live in one these 14 neighborhoods the planning department is working to make these rules citywide in the next 18 months.