BHA Picnic and Bonin

Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the 11th District which includes Brentwood, took time on Sunday to stop by the annual Brentwood Homeowners Association picnic (more…)

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Bonin In Favor Of Rentals

Council District 11 representative Mike Bonin, serving an area from Brentwood to Mar Vista to Venice, introduced a motion today, in conjunction with fellow councilman Herb Wesson (District 10), that would regulate the short-term rental housing industry in Los Angeles.

Under the draft, short-term rentals would be allowed if the owner of the home is the primary resident, ruling out the purchase of homes as businesses strictly for short-term rental income.

For a full text of the motion, see this link: Bonin_Short_Term_Rental_Motion_2015.

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Brentwood Groups Sue Archer School

A coalition of Brentwood homeowners and community groups has filed a lawsuit against the Archer School For Girls.  The filing claims the City of Los Angeles wrongfully approved the expansion project despite dramatic environmental and traffic impacts on the surrounding neighborhood.

The Archer School came to its present site on Sunset Blvd near Barrington Avenue in 1998, after organized opposition from segments of the community.  The City approved the operations under a very stringent Conditional Use Permit, which stated the regulations and restrictions were needed to maintain balance with the residential community. (more…)

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Brentwood Home Prices Set Records

Predictions of the bursting bubble in Brentwood home sales has been exaggerated, at least according to the most recent sales statistics which show prices still setting records.  The median price for a home in Brentwood is now more than $2.4 million with prices ranging from just over $1 million to just under $15 million in the last three months alone.  Per square foot averages are over $800 for new home construction, causing developers to generate bidding wars for post-war houses ready for razing.

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Brentwood Opposes Bonin’s Motion

The Brentwood Community Council, a collection of homeowner organizations, institutions and business representatives, today voted to formally oppose area Councilman Mike Bonin’s motion which would allow certain type of home rentals for under thirty days. The BCC motion to oppose, raised by Brentwood Homeowners Association president Ray Klein, stated:

BCC opposes Motion CF-14-1635-S2, sponsored by Councilpersons Mike Bonin and Herb Wesson. BCC opposes any change in the current zoning laws regarding short-term rentals.

Currently, rental of homes and apartments on a daily or weekly basis is illegal, but the City has been lax in their enforcement. The new proposal was hoping to regulate the renting of homes on a short-term basis (less than thirty days) facilitated in part by web-based services like AirBnB and VRBO.

While some hope to supplement their income by renting out their homes, others felt it threatened the sanctity and security afforded by residential neighborhoods.

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Brentwood School and Veterans

The Brentwood School upper campus on Barrington Place is continuing their long association with the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration with a new program which encourages vets to use the campus sports facilities.

Obesity is prevalent across the nation, leading to many health issues including diabetes, and veterans are not immune. The Brentwood School is hoping to play a part in combating those concerns by getting some vets active on the track, basketball court and tennis courts.  Supplying equipment and supervisory personnel, the School is hoping a growing number of vets housed at the West LA VA campus will take advantage of the program and improve their physical fitness.

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Brentwood School Has Plans

Brentwood School has unveiled a summary view of their expansion and renovation plans ahead of the official Draft Environmental Impact Report from City Planning.  The extensive proposal calls for construction of new buildings and renovations of existing buildings on both the lower campus at Bundy and Sunset, and the upper campus on Barrington Place.

Sure to impact the plans is the soon due Master Plan for the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration campus.  Part of Brentwood’s upper campus sits on land leased from the VA.

The Brentwood School was established in 1972 on the former site of what was originally a military academy.

 

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Brentwood Village Parking In Jeopardy

Add Brentwood Village to the potential collateral damage of the new West LA Veterans Administration Master Plan.  A lawsuit last year by the ACLU on behalf of a veterans group and the appointment of new Secretary Robert McDonald in Washington, DC, led to the rapid development of a new plan for the use of the West LA campus.

The more than 350 acre area was donated to the government in the late 1800s for the specific use by war veterans.  Since then, the VA has leased out parcels to institutions and companies for private use.  Now, they want it back, which means Brentwood School and UCLA are scrambling to establish real veteran-centric uses for the land, hoping to maintain their control and use for their purposes as well.

Showing they are serious, while somewhat unorganized, the VA recently shuttered the dog park on the east side of Barrington, until Councilman Mike Bonin, and Senator Diane Feinstein, petitioned to have it reopened pending some definitive development actions.

Grouped into the confusion is the Brentwood Village parking lot, on the east side of Barrington Place, just north of the post office.  The parking lot, run by private company Westside Services, serves as vital parking for Village employees and customers.  If the VA takes the parking lot out of service, Brentwood Village store owners and customers could be absent a practical solution for parking and their business could suffer or shutter.

Brentwood Village will now join the Brentwood School and UCLA in petitioning the VA for permission to continuing using the properties, subject to an approved plan integrating programs and policies that are veteran-centric.  If you would like to lend a comment to this endeavor and support the Brentwood School and Village, you can follow this link and make your voice heard.  Look for blue, Comment Here, button.

 

 

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Choppers Circle Brentwood

Brentwood residents getting into bed were stirred Sunday night by the sound of an LAPD helicopter circling the north Barrington area.  Spokesperson and Senior Lead Officer Maria Gray says it was a case of mistaken identity.  Neighbors reported a possible burglary in progress when they spotted a man in the backyard of a home under renovation.  Turns out, it was a private security guard hired by the homeowners to secure the site.  There are two positive results, as homeowners see the result of neighbor vigilance and the quick police response.  See something, say something!

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DWP Upgrades Brentwood

New home construction and aging power lines have combined forces to encourage the Department of Water and Power toward swift action in local infrastructure improvements. According to DWP spokesperson Andy Sparks, the utility will use the cooler weather and lower power demands to quickly upgrade some underground cabling at Sunset Blvd near Kenter Ave.

The DWP has scheduled the cable replacement and load transfer between November 12, 2015 to November 21, 2015. This work is needed to relieve load from Distribution Station 66. The work will include the replacement of one span of cable from the substructure located in the west bound left hand turn lane on Sunset Blvd to southbound Kenter Ave.  In order for their crews to perform this work safely, they will need to reduce the east and west bound lanes to one lane each direction. They will do the majority of work at night to limit the traffic impact. The scheduling of splicing and cable replacement will be scheduled as follows:

  •  Thursday, November 12, 2015, between 12:00am to 6:00am, start cable splicing at manhole 12192 Sunset Blvd.
  • Saturday, November 14, 2015, between 8:00am to 3:30pm, remove and install cable at manhole 12192 Sunset Blvd to pole 377195M located east side of Kenter Ave north of Sunset Blvd
  • Tuesday, November 17, 2015, between 12:00am to 6:00am continue cable splicing at manhole 12192 Sunset Blvd
  • Wednesday, November 18, 2015, between 12:00am to 6:00am complete cable splicing in manhole 12192 Sunset Blvd.
  • Thursday, November 19, 2015, between 9:00am to 3:00pm complete splicing on pole located on Kenter Ave east of Sunset Blvd.

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Homes As Hotels

The battle over short-term rentals is turning into a war between homeowners and the City. Intent on getting control and collecting revenue from residents who rent out their homes, condos and apartments, the City will soon approve a new ordinance with specific rules and regulations for rentals.

Renting out your dwelling has become more prevalent as web and phone-based services like AirBnB and VRBO make it easier to find a place to stay when traveling around the country. Both business and pleasure travelers use the services in an effort to save money or stay in more unique accommodations.  Owners are seeking to supplement their income instead of letting their guest houses, spare rooms and empty condos go unused.

Homeowners in residential neighborhoods are concerned their neighbors will take advantage of the high daily and weekly rates to rent out their homes on a short-term basis, creating  a hotel-like environment in areas zoned for residential purposes only.  It is currently illegal to rent out a home for less than thirty days.

The City is looking to clamp down on scofflaws who ignore the short-term rental restrictions and accommodate those who want to gain the extra income lawfully.  Homeowners groups representing “R1” neighborhoods, like the Pacific Palisades Community Council, have risen up against the new ordinance, while providing a specific set of stipulations should the City grant the rights anyway.

A preliminary motion was instigated by Brentwood councilman Mike Bonin, in an effort to get the ball rolling on a final ordinance.  The Brentwood Homeowners Association is against daily and weekly rentals in their territory.

The Brentwood Community Council has yet to act at the time of this article.

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Master Plan For VA

After several public listening sessions and a lot of private input from Federal and State officials, the Master Plan will be presented to the public.  The mission, from newly appointed secretary Robert McDonald and from a court settlement between the VA and the ACLU, is to make the West LA campus “veteran-centric,” meaning all land must be available for use by the veteran community.

In 1888, even before the establishment of the Veterans Administration, the formerly private land was donated to the federal government for the specific use by war veterans.  With a deteriorated focus and commitment to veterans, a group sued the VA with the help of the ACLU and a judge ordered a reexamination and/or evacuation of all leaseholders.

The land is now used by several entities under lease from the VA.  They include

  • Parks used by the neighborhood under the management of LA Parks and Recreation;
  • Brentwood School football and baseball fields;
  • UCLA baseball stadium
  • The Brentwood Village public parking lot.

Those uses are all in jeopardy until the Master Plan is established and it can be determined if those uses can benefit veterans.  Brentwood School has programs in place for veterans to use the athletic facilities, and is looking to expand their relationship.

A small group of veterans objects to any government input into the Plan and wants total control over the space, to be run by veteran’s groups.

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New Bus Stop A Go

A new and improved bus stop has appeared on Barrington Place just south of Chayote Street in Barrington Village.  IMG_1710 (1)Three metered parking places were removed to make way for the Big Blue Bus stop.  While removing the parking may seem ill-advised in area without an abundance, this should smooth northbound traffic flow in an often congested area.

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New Fish Place Coming Soon

The Daily Grill left Brentwood over two years ago and since then, the space on the second floor of Brentwood Gardens has been vacant.  While the landlords have tried to get several tenants to occupy the space, they also were looking for someone with staying power who could be a draw for the popular local mall.

It seems the founders of California Pizza Kitchen are staking another claim in the site that gave them great luck.  They will soon open BottleFish, an eatery specializing in seafood.  This is not to be mistaken with Sugarfish, the popular sushi restaurant in Brentwood Town and Country.

Bottlefish is currently under review by the San Vicente Design Review Board and is applying for a new liquor license with the City.  The installation will include an extensive remodeling of the space which will enhance the look of Brentwood Gardens.

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Opinion: The VA Master Plan

Support Our Troops!  Make that battle cry and anyone with the slightest opposition to foreign invasions or policing is sent scurrying to the nearest crevice to hide.

The same hypocrisy is being perpetrated on our heroes at home.  Washington allowed the West LA Veterans campus to lay virtually dormant for decades, without proper funding, administration or an effective plan.  Now, after a veteran-inspired lawsuit by the ACLU, politicians and new VA Secretary Robert McDonald are pushing for a virtual utopia with housing and services for thousands.

The problem is, the government moves slowly, and while the plan is honorable, and housing and services are desperately needed, it does no one any good to expel income producing institutions before you are ready to put the land to good use.

The reality is that institutions and “veteran-centric” use of the land are not mutually exclusive. The campus area is over 350 acres and it will be decades before the majority of that land is put to good use for veterans, even with major dedication and funding.  Fencing off the land just as a show of commitment will not help anyone, especially veterans.  It will just emphasize the lack of activity and punish the neighborhood.  The collateral damage will be felt by UCLA, Brentwood School, Brentwood Village, Brentwood residents, and AYSO.

Be bold, initiate a realistic plan and work with veterans, the community and local government to make it happen.

 

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San Vicente Closed Oct 11

San Vicente will be closed from 10a to 5p on Sunday, Oct 11, for the annual Brentwood Art Festival.  Artists will display their work for sale, and there will be food and fun for all ages.  Take a stroll along our famous boulevard and mingle with friends.

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School Expansion Still A Concern

Things are still not settled at Sunset and Barrington.  The Archer School For Girls faces a new group opposing its plan to expand its facilities and operations.

The Sunset Coalition, formed by school neighbor David Wright, has filed a lawsuit meant to impede the construction of new buildings on the existing campus and two adjacent properties, until more environmental impact information is provided.

In August, the Los Angeles City Council, with encouragement from area councilman Mike Bonin, approved the School’s revised plan for expansion of its Brentwood campus.  The Brentwood Homeowners Association (BHA) spent several years trying to get the School to substantially reduce the plan, but ultimately had to settle for a restrictive covenant when the City seemed intent on approval of the larger project.

The Archer School came to Brentwood in 1998 and has since operated under a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) granted by the City.  The CUP provides institutions and businesses permission to operate on a site, under a specific set of rules and guidelines.  The School ultimately felt the restrictions were limiting its capacity to accommodate its students and compete with other schools, in a more modern and progressive educational environment.

Councilman Bonin believes the restrictions reached in the covenant with the BHA will potentially improve peak hour traffic flow.  The BHA feels they reached the best settlement possible, considering any City-issued CUP would have been much more lenient, and was likely to be granted regardless of neighbor opposition.

Brentwood School has been hit with a bit of collateral damage from this three year fray.  The School had been discussing since 2008 a long-term plan with its neighbors on Woodburn and the BHA.  The neighbors came to an agreement with the Brentwood School in 2013, and the BHA tacked on some additional traffic restrictions on top of that.  It all came together in a covenant between Brentwood School, the neighbors and the BHA this past summer.  The Brentwood School was formed in 1972 and had been operating on a 20-year covenant which had expired.  The new agreement lasts for 30-years and covers construction and operations.

It remains to be seen how all of this will play out, but sign up for our email alerts for information as it develops.

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Stop Sign Still A Sore Spot

A seemingly innocuous yet divisive issue continues to raise tempers in Brentwood.  A stop sign installed nearly two years ago at Bundy Drive and Mayfield Avenue in south Brentwood at the request of neighboring residents in still in place despite many in the community thinking it causes an unnecessary stall in traffic flow on a main artery.

The sign was installed by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation at the request of neighbors who felt cars were speeding up and down Bundy at unsafe speeds.  The DOT applied their standard litmus tests and determined the installation was warranted.  Unfortunately, the result was a considerable peak-hour back-up for northbound vehicles.  Residents in Brentwood use Bundy as a conduit to Santa Monica and the 10 freeway.

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Sunset Gets A Final Coat

The final bit of asphalt replacement along Sunset Blvd was completed last weekend, from Church Lane to Barrington Place.  Brentwood thoroughfares and residential streets have been getting long overdue attention from the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, thanks to tenacious encouragement from the Brentwood Homeowners Association and the Councilman’s office.

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West LA VA Master Plan

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has released a preliminary analysis of the West Los Angeles VA campus which sits on over 300 acres just east of Brentwood.  After years of decay and minimal operations, newly appointed Secretary Robert McDonald mandated a better plan for housing and helping America’s veterans at the government site.

The 889-page plan will act as a baseline for discussions as both federal and state officials strive to move forward on better utilizing the space.  The status of both Brentwood School and the local Barrington parks, both of which sit on the VA land, is in question.  The School has submitted an interactive plan to have veterans utilize the sports facilities and interact with students on a mutually production level.

To read the complete document, please click here.

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What Is A BMO?

The City of Los Angeles is about to take another stab at limiting the size and scale of new homes. In 2008, after widespread complaints about “McMansions,” homes that were seemingly out of scale for their lot and street, the City passed the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) and the Baseline Hillside Ordinance (BHO).

The Ordinances prescribed additional rules to the existing building codes that would serve to limit the size of new home construction and remodels.  The rules dictated maximum square footage for a home based on lot size.  There were exemptions for things like garages, basements and covered patios, and bonuses for creating a home with certain design elements like a pitched roof or an asymmetrical front elevation.  The latter was a thinly veiled attempt to encourage box-like homes that lacked the design elements familiar to southern California homes.

Since 2008, particularly in Brentwood, the BMO has resulted in the construction of more traditional-style homes, as those designs allow the builder to take advantage of the 20% bonus in square footage, thus creating a high potential resale value.  Homes in Brentwood currently sell for about $900 per square foot of livable space.

Unfortunately, the BMO did not completely prevent large-scale homes from being built, at least not to the expectation of the original groups that inspired it.   Councilman from several neighborhoods were urged to amend the existing BMO and close a lot of the loopholes which allowed developers to build homes larger than the ordinance may have intended.

In the meantime, and because the amendments may take months or years, the City Council has passed an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) which is a set of several basic moratoriums assigned to respective neighborhoods.  These govern building until the final amendments are passed by the City Council and become part of the new BMO (and BHO).

The City is holding several town halls to hear from the public and requesting input from various homeowner associations and neighborhood councils.  It is unclear of the division between those wanting strict limits versus those who want to maintain maximum home value.  Limitations on what can be built will likely result in lower sale prices for homes considered to be lot value or “tear downs.”  Likely, the City will attempt to strike a balance and weigh the concerns of the most passionate groups.

The Brentwood Homeowners Association, Brentwood Community Council and the Brentwood Park Homeowners Association, among others, are reviewing the amendments and polling their constituencies in order to respond before the end of the year.

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Wright House In Brentwood

A Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Brentwood is on the auction blocks.  The home, called The Sturges Residence after its original owner, is located at 449 Skyewiay Rd and is aimed to fetch north of $2.5 million.  Already designated as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument, this is just over 1,100 square feet was owned most recently by Jack Larson, TV’s Jimmy Olsen on the first incarnation of Superman.  Larson died in 2015.

The home is similar in design theme to Wright’s “Fallingwater” in Pennsylvania.  It will go up for auction in late February.

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