LOS ANGELES – The county Board of Supervisors has approved a conditional use permit for an 88-unit condominium project in the View Park-Windsor Hills community, despite threatened legal action by a group of neighbors.
County officials and planners say the hillside project, set to be developed by The Bedford Group of Companies, fits a need for denser housing in unincorporated areas to accommodate older residents, young individuals living alone and others looking for more affordable housing.
“This project will transform a lot that has been vacant for decades into high-quality homes that might be attractive to seniors and empty-nesters looking to downsize from their single-family homes,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said in an email to City News Service.
But many others who live in the neighborhood said the five-story building — which required a 30-foot exemption to local height limits — is too big for the community of single-family homes, roughly bounded by Crenshaw Boulevard and South La Brea Avenue to the east and west and Stocker Street and West Slauson Avenue to the north and south.
The United Homeowners Association II appealed the Regional Planning Commission’s decision to approve the project on Aug. 2 and has not backed down.
John Heath, who leads the association, said The View on Overhill at 5101 S. Overhill Drive was “a project that couldn’t be built in a worse location” and warned that the group was now left with “no other choice but to seek legal redress.”
Heath and others objected to the idea that the building would be affordable, calling it a luxury development.
An online brochure says it will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 1,288 to 2,400 square feet, expected to sell for between $400,000 and $500,000. The developer has agreed to set aside at least 5 percent of the units for sale to moderate-income buyers who make no more than 120 percent of the area median income.
Ridley-Thomas, who represents the community as part of the county’s Second District, defended the development.
“We must advance a variety of housing types — including market rate development — to get ahead of the housing crisis that pervades all corners of Los Angeles County,” Ridley-Thomas said.
Windsor Hills resident Helen Sellers was among those demanding a full environmental impact report for the project.
“You have rubber-stamped a project that threatens the health, safety and welfare of our residents,” Sellers told the board, pointing to possible methane gas leaks, a nearby abandoned oil well and an earthquake fault she said runs through the site.
Regional planners concluded that the project “will not adversely affect the health, peace, comfort or welfare of persons residing or working in the surrounding area.”
The Bedford Group has said it is “sensitive to the community” and last fall collected 600 signatures in support of the project, along with endorsements from the Los Angeles Urban League and the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, among others.
A project architect told the board in October that the building had been moved as far north as possible to keep neighbors’ view corridors open and that numerous studies were done to ensure that the structure wouldn’t cast a shadow on adjacent properties.
But more than 1,000 residents have signed petitions against The View, according to the homeowners association.
Ridley-Thomas took a hit from some residents who accused him of favoring his own interests over theirs.
Heath accused him of “capitulating to those who make the biggest campaign donations,” while resident Toni McDonald-Tabor said “the developer finally found a weak link” to approve the project.
In his statement to City News Service, Ridley-Thomas countered that his office “works with developers throughout the district to increase our housing supply in a manner consistent with the character of the surrounding community. This requires all developments to undergo an often rigorous entitlement process, including compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. This project is no exception.”