“A people cannot have the consciousness of being self-governing unless they attend themselves to the things over against their doors.” — Benjamin Ide Wheeler.
Those immortal words of the autocratic president of the University of California 100 years ago do not pop up on google but they are found chiseled on the Main Street facade of City Hall as if a warning to the populace that their values and interests will not be served unless they are vigilant.
It is pretty clear by now to anyone paying attention that the people of LA are becoming more vigilant; that the consciousness of our situation together is growing; that self-governance is within our grasp.
Solar energy, billboards, marijuana stores, DWP rates and many other issues have stalled and forced the connivers at City Hall to redraw the schemes, to back down in some cases and even to reverse course.
In Copenhagen with his entourage at the admitted cost of $120,000 in precious taxpayer dollars, the mayor got aboard the bicycle fancier and bike rights movement agenda back home and peddled as fast as could his love of a more natural lifestyle that consumed less fossil fuel and resources with the exception, of course, of fine wines.
On Friday, the City Planning Department announced in an email to angry mob of homeowners that plans were being abandoned to legalize Accessory Dwelling Unites (ADUs) — granny flats in backyards, converted garages and houses turned into tenements — in every residential neighborhood except those occupied by the hillside-dwelling rich and the open spaces of the equestrian crowd.
From: Gabriela Juarez <Gabriela.Juarez@lacity.org>
be placed on the
We wanted to
Juarez is the point person in the Planning Department who was assigned by her boss Tom Rothman to guide the granny flats ordinance through a public hearing process as quietly as possible so they City Council could approve it unanimously before anyone really knew what it meant.
The strategy might have succeeded a year ago as it has no many times for so many years. But this time the vast network of computers linked by viral email spread the word and the Granny Flat Gambit popped up on OurLA.org and replicated on blogs and suddenly there was an uproar.
They envisioned their single-family housing tracts with people everywhere, cars all over the place, backyards without any privacy.
City Planning documents claimed the ordinance was “mandated” by a six-year-old state law AB 1866 but City Attorney Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich put the lie to that.
He told Neighborhood Council activists at a PlanCheck meeting that nothing in
the state law requires the city to open the floodgates to granny flats
throughout most of the city’s residential areas and that the law
doesn’t “mention minimum lot size or parking requirements or anything
related to restrictions on residential density.”
In fact, cities that enacted their own ordinances under this
law did so to protect single-family neighborhoods — not destroy them.
chief Gail Goldberg, in an attachment to Juarez’s terse announcement,
explained public sentiment did not register at all with her beyond
showing that it “has become abundantly clear from the public input that
this work program would be time consuming and labor intensive.”
granny flat ordinance was being “put on hold” because of city’s
deeteriorating financial situation which has caused “staff reductions”
due to the ERIP retirements and “required furloughs
Her letter Friday (ADU.pdf) to NC members, City Council members and “interested parties” highlights two sentences in bold-face type:
of the programs that will go on indefinite hold is the creation and
adoption of a local ordinance for Accessory Dwelling Units…the city
will comply with the parameters established by state law.”
other words, a vigilant community created such a hullabaloo that it
wasn’t worth the time and trouble to take on this fight when the
Council members are so scared to death for their own future employment,
they are paralyzed and panicked that the people will wake up and
realized they’ve been screwing them for years.
granny flat measure set off a round of applause and cheers among the
vigilantes on this issue, relieved that city planners gave up the fight
in the face of community opposition. The state law which had not been a
problem would remain the law of the city.
Gerald Silver, the
Encino Homeowners leader and long-time civic vigilante, wasn’t totally
convinced it’s so easy to stop City Hall’s latest attack on the middle
class. He sent out an email blast under this headline:
GOLDBERG THROWS IN THE TOWEL
ORDINANCE (ADUs)..at least if seems so!
Another vigilant citizen, Mike Eveloff, was even more skeptical and looked a little deeper.
dropped the ordinance BECAUSE people were going to succeed in putting
political pressure and getting restrictions on ADUs,” he wrote in an
email. “By dropping the ordinance, the city is mandated by AB1866 to
use its VERY permissive guidelines. Planning just thumbed their
collective noses at the community.
.“We didn’t win. We lost. Big time.”
What Eveloff pointed to was the guidelines for the state law which applies in the absence of a local ordinance:
b)1)When a local agency which has not adopted an ordinance
governing second units in accordance with subdivision (a) or (c)
receives its first application on or after July 1, 1983, for a permit
pursuant to this subdivision, the local agency shall accept the application and approve or disapprove the application ministerially without discretionary review pursuant to this subdivision unless it adopts an ordinance
in accordance with subdivision (a) or (c) within 120 days after
receiving the application. Notwithstanding Section 65901 or 65906, every
local agency shall grant a variance or special use permit for the
creation of a second unit if the second unit complies with all of the
(A) The unit is not intended for sale and may be rented.
(B) The lot is zoned for single-family or multifamily use.
(C) The lot contains an existing single-family dwelling.
(D) The second unit is either attached to the existing dwelling and located
within the living area of the existing dwelling or detached from the existing
dwelling and located on the same lot as the existing dwelling.
(E) The increased floor area of an attached second unit shall not exceed 30
percent of the existing living area.
(F) The total area of floorspace for a detached second unit shall not exceed
1,200 square feet.
(G) Requirements relating to height, setback, lot coverage, architectural
review, site plan review, fees, charges, and other zoning requirements
generally applicable to residential construction in the zone in which the
property is located.
(H) Local building code requirements which apply to detached dwellings, as
(I) Approval by the local health officer where a private sewage disposal system
is being used, if required.
state law hasn’t caused problems yet but whatever forces were at work
to get planners to develop the state’s most permissive local ordinance
suggests they are willing to settle for the state law for now rather
than face a fight that could lead to a restrictive granny flats
ordinance like those enacted in cities where the quality of life of the
residents comes first.
“Pressure needs to be brought to bear to get the council to
put in an ICO to set the lot size limit to 15000 (square feet),” Eveloff said.
“Otherwise, we will end
up with hundreds (thousands?) of ADUs before the city gets around to doing
anything. Sound familiar? Think billboards, dispensaries.”
I think Eveloff is right and as he said in his email to me: “You have it completely wrong.”
wolves are against our doors, to paraphrase Benjamin Ide Wheeler, which
is what so much of this fight with City Hall is about.
we are to achieve “the consciousness of being self-governing” we must
regroup and refuse to let Gail Goldberg three in the towel.
brought up the need for a granny flats ordinance and we want one, one
that restricts them from destroying our neighborhoods, one that doesn’t
allow thousands of illegal firetraps to become legal and doesn’t allow
thousands of more to be constructed.
Here’s the officials to email if you want your neighborhood protected:
- “Councilman Richard Alarcon” <councilmember.alarcon@lacity.
“Councilwoman Jan Perry” <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
“Councilman Ed Reyes” <councilmember.reyes@lacity.
“Councilman Bernard Parks”
“Councilman Eric Garcetti” <email@example.com>,
“Councilman Greig Smith”
“Councilman Herb Wessen” <councilmember.wesson@lacity.
“Councilman Paul Koretz”
“Councilman Dennis Zine” <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
“Councilman Paul Kerkorian”
- “Councilman Bill Rosendahl”
“Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa”
“S. Gail Goldberg, Planning Director” gail.goldberg@