Planning commission thwarts appeal of homeless housing in Fairfax

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A neighborhood group’s appeal against a 50-unit homeless housing development at La Brea and Willoughby in Fairfax was unanimously denied by the city planning commission on Thursday.

Commissioners disagreed with the reasons for the appeal and expressed dismay that a permanent supportive housing project had been delayed because of it.

“When you go out and see people who are homeless, and you complain that the city’s not moving fast enough,” this is the problem, said Commissioner Dana Perlman.

The La Brea Willoughby Coalition, which filed the appeal, told commissioners the project’s developer violated their right to “due process,” claiming that they were not properly notified of the project and had not had adequate time to voice their concerns.

Commission president Samantha Millman told the coalition that she understood that the group thought it was being ignored. But the real issue, she said, “is not that we don’t hear you, it’s that we have a disagreement with your arguments.”

Representatives for the planning department and the developer, EAH Housing, said they had met all the requirements for alerting neighbors. Commissioner Vahid Khorsand noted that for this project, the developer didn’t need to go to the neighborhood council for support, but did anyway, offering even more opportunity for community input.

Several members of the coalition told commissioners that they were being ignored by the city and by their representatives, including their neighborhood council, Mid-City West.

“How can a public have due process when the political servants support and collude with a well-funded nonprofit ​development corporation to the absolute exclusion of citizens’ private property rights?” asked Ray Jaffey, a homeowner who lives behind the project site.

The development, called The Pointe on La Brea, uses the city’s transit-oriented communities guidelines, which allows developers to build more units or taller than would normally be allowed in exchange for including affordable units in projects near major transit stops. The Pointe on La Brea, which is 100 percent affordable, will rise five stories tall and include five parking spaces. It will replace a one-story auto repair shop.

The TOC program has spurred proposals for multi-family housing projects across the city, and drawn ire from preservationists and slow-growth advocates. The group Fix the City, which successfully sued to stop an update of the Hollywood Community Plan, is currently suing the city over the program.

The Pointe on La Brea would rise in an area of Fairfax that has been “plagued” with homelessness, said Aviv Kleinman, the planning deputy for Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents the area where the housing project would rise. Kleinman told commissioners that Koretz “strongly supports” the project—the first in his district to receive funds from Measure HHH, the voter-approved measure that generated over $1 billion for permanent supportive housing in Los Angeles.

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