Residents Mobilize in Opposition to Upzoning of Ladera Shopping Center

J.T. Torbit

      Residents of Ladera Heights and surrounding areas are gearing up for battle in an effort to abort the proposed upzoning of the Ladera Shopping Center. Upwards of 100 community residents turned out to a recent meeting to voice their opposition stemming from plans to up-zone Ladera Center from a “Community Center” to a “Regional Center”, which could allow for buildings of unlimited height and significantly alter the local landscape.

      The Ladera Center is uniquely situated on about one-third City of Los Angeles property (in Westchester’s City of Los Angeles Ladera), and two-thirds in LA County’s Ladera Heights) is at the heart of the controversy. The proposed changes include allowing unlimited building heights and increasing the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) from 1.5 to up to 6.5 FAR. This includes properties on Fairview Avenue adjacent to existing housing on Fairview and the Height at Ladera development (including Bradley Place, the Bank of America site and the other common open areas in Los Angeles). 

      Opponents argue that the plan fails to address existing peak hour traffic congestion issues on Fairview, Centinela, La Tijera, and La Cienega Boulevards, and notably, does not mandate on-site parking. 

      Tracie Lyons, the past president of the Ladera Heights Civic Association, is leading the charge, emphasizing the importance of preserving the community’s character. “This Center has been the heart of our community since 1965. Transforming it into a zone for high-rise development with no parking requirements is unacceptable,” Lyons stated. 

      “Fortunately,” Lyons advised residents, “we still have an opportunity to oppose the plans and demand that the planners meet with residents living in the surrounding area to participate in the rezoning discussion related to our beloved Ladera Center. We are all stakeholders and should have been consulted before these draft plans were released, which will have such a propound negative impact on the character of our community. They need to recognize that this area already has some of the most affordable rental units on the westside so these proposed high-rises with exorbitant rents are not needed here.”

      “My children and I face displacement if these plans proceed,” shared one local resident. “The traffic is already horrendous on La Cienega and Slauson, and this would just make it worse. They built the Cumulus building La Cienega and Jefferson, and they have a 60% vacancy rate.

      Opponents are drawing parallels with successful resistance efforts in Westchester. The group “Concerned for Westchester Playa” advocates that new high-rise development should not be adjacent to established single family homes and that existing congested streets should not be burdened with more traffic. 

      Westchester resident Debra Huston shared online, “I do not want “regional centers” or buildings of “unlimited height” with no requirement of on-site parking anywhere in this community, including this area near Ladera Heights. There is no other community in CD 11 that is being hit with regional center zoning. While it is true that the state has required an increase in affordable housing, it is the city that is deciding where that zoning will be in order to achieve these numbers imposed by the state. To quote a developer who’s jumping into this market: “I’m just trying to be as greedy as possible.” At our expense?”

      Residents have been encouraged to relay their concerns directly to city and county planning offices, as well as elected officials.

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