The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has voted to uphold the approval of a proposed mixed-use complex in Lincoln Heights, rejecting an appeal which sought to block the project's construction.

Pinyon Group, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm, recently obtained entitlements to redevelop a five-acre property at 141 Avenue 34 - a short distance south of Metro's Heritage Square light rail station.  The proposed project calls for the construction of a low-rise complex containing 468 studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments - including 66 very low-income affordable units (annual income of $39,450 per year for a single adult or $56,300 for a family of four) - above roughly 16,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and parking for 311 vehicles.

Project entitlements include Tier III Transit Oriented Communities incentives allowing for greater density and less on-site parking that would typically be required per the property's zoning.

KFA Architecture is designing the contemporary apartment complex, which would include three buildings ranging between four and five stories in height.  Architectural show exterior finishes including stucco and metal, with the buildings arranged parallel to one another, separated by outdoor amenity decks.

Environmental studies conducted for the project point to a roughly three-year construction period for the development.

The project appellant, Patricia Camacho, identified herself as a resident of a nearby property along Avenue 34.  Camacho's appeal made several claims in a bid to overturn the approvals granted by the Planning Department, including accusations that the proposed development is inconsistent with local zoning regulations and should require further environmental review.

Michael Hayden, another Lincoln Heights resident who spoke for the appellant, contended that the proposed development would worsen traffic congestion in the surrounding neighborhood, and questioned the need for additional soil remediation on the industrial site.

Over a more than three-hour period, Camacho's complaints were echoed by dozens of commenters who identified themselves as residents of Lincoln Heights, who argued that the project will be unaffordable to its neighborhors and accelerate gentrification in the community.  Multiple commenters noted that the median income for the community is currently below the threshold for the deed-restricted affordable units within the project.

Gerald Gubatan, Planning Director for Councilmember Gil Cedillo, urged the Commission to approve the project, on the condition that the project be conditioned to address concerns regarding pedestrian and vehicular safety surrounding the site, parking, and questions of lingering soil contamination from the property's past industrial uses.

Additionally, Gubatan announced that Pinyon Group has agreed to set aside 192 studio and one-bedroom apartments at the the workforce housing level ($64,900 for a single person ot $92,750 for a family of four).  The covenant will apply only to first-time renters at the property, with the rental rate remaining the same (adjusted for changes in the area median income) for the duration of tenancy.  Rents would revert to market rate for subsequent tenants.

Commissioners voted 5-1 to affirm a staff recommendation to reject the appeal, with Karen Mack casting the lone dissenting vote.

This was the second hearing for the Avenue 34 development before the City Planning Commission, following an initial meeting held in August.  At the time, following a deluge of phone calls from opponents of the development, Commissioners voted to continue consideration of the project to a future date, encouraging Pinyon Group to engage in additional community outreach.