As part of the West Los Angeles Community Plan update, the City Planning Department has proposed a “Mixed Use Corridor” concept for Pico Boulevard between Overland and Patricia Avenues. According to the Planners’ description, this change would:
- Encourage quality development and support walkability by applying the comprehensive Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan Design Standards.
- Encourage a mix of commercial and residential uses by extending the Exposition Corridor Neighborhood Mixed-Use zone.
- Create opportunities for more housing, including affordable housing, especially near Pico Boulevard and Overland Ave.
- Allow 2 to 4 stories along Pico Boulevard and 3 to 6 stories along Overland Ave.
Some background: The Neighborhood Mixed Use (NMU) zone already applies to portions of Pico Boulevard west of Overland, where it was introduced as part of the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan. The concept now being considered for Pico east of Overland would extend the NMU zoning as far as Patricia Avenue, replacing the existing C2-1VL zoning.
But what does all this mean? Some key points:
- Under current C2-1VL zoning, the building height limit is 45-feet, which equates to 3 or possibly 4 stories. So, while the existing buildings on this part of Pico are all one or two stories, current zoning rules would allow them to be replaced by 3 or 4 story buildings.
- The height limit in the NMU zone is also 45-feet. In other words, projects built under the proposed NMU zoning would be no taller than those that could be built today under C2-1VL rules.
- C2-1VL zoning allows new buildings to be 45-feet tall from the front (Pico frontage) all the way to the rear setback line.
- The NMU zone requires that new buildings on Pico that have single-family homes behind them step-down towards the rear of the lot. The height limit is 25-feet for those parts of the new building that are within 50-feet of any single-family (R1) zoned property.
- The NMU allows new buildings to have one-third more square footage than is currently allowed under C2-1VL. However, the new building design must conform to the height limits at both the front and rear of the lot.
Having weighed the pros and cons, WSSM believes that a change from C2-1VL to NMU zoning would be a net benefit to the single-family streets adjacent to Pico. The height step-down that is required under NMU zoning rules would reduce visual and shade impacts on the neighboring homes, in return for only a very modesty increase in allowed square footage. In addition, extending the Expo TNP Design Standards would promote pedestrian activity and neighborhood-serving uses at street level – something the current zoning on this part of Pico does not do.