Over the past two weeks, the Los Angeles City Council has voted to uphold the approval of two Transit Oriented Communities developments which would bring new housing to infill sites in Westlake and Koreatown.

View of 425 Union from Union AvenueB Raeen Construction

The first appeal, which pertained to a project at 425 S. Union Avenue in Westlake, sought to overturn entitlements secured by applicant and architect B. Raeen Construction, Inc. for the construction of a new six-story building which would feature 38 studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments - including four extremely low-income affordable units -  above subterranean parking for 20 vehicles.

As when the project appeared before the City Planning Commission in November 2022, it was faced with an appeal from Christi and Brandi Garris, a neighboring property owner, who argued that the project would displace residents and not offer enough housing to meet the needs of the surrounding community. Her opposition was joined by a separate appeal by the Coalition for an Equitable Westlake MacArthur Park, which argued that the project should be subject to further scrutiny and study under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The appellants also raised a peculiar objection to the project, arguing that excavation for the new apartment complex would pose a safety hazard based on an easement on the site which was intended to accommodate a tunnel for the Pacific Electric Railway. However, city staff were unable to find any evidence that said tunnel was ever built, according to the staff report.

A staff response recommended rejection of both appeals, citing a lack of evidence to support the claims of the appellants.

Rendering of 975 S Manhattan PlaceDFH Architects

The second project to face appeal, proposed by Jamison Services, Inc., would rise from a currently vacant property located at 975 S. Manhattan Place in Koreatown.

Plans approved for the site in 2022 permit the construction of a seven-story building featuring 120 studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments above 127 parking stalls located at grade and in two subterranean levels. Jamison would be required to set aside 12 of the apartments for rent as extremely low-income affordable housing.

The appeal, filed by an affiliate of Laborers International Union of North America Local 270 known as SAFER, objected to the approval of a Class 32 Categorical Exemption to CEQA granted to the project. Echoing comments previously given to the City Planning Commission, SAFER argued that the project may be home to endangered species and toxic substances, and should be subject to further study.

As with the earlier appeal, a staff report recommended rejection.

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