September 2008 – City Not Policing Developer; Oxford Triangle Residents Protest

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By Reta Moser

Stand tall Triangle residents. Hopefully, you are about to make a change for the Triangle in reference to JPI. Hopefully, this change will affect all Venetians…maybe all city neighborhood councils.

You with your emails; you with your protesting. Hopefully you are about to change the L.A. City Planning’s ability to ever cripple a neighborhood again; you are about to see citizens take over.

Howard resident Challis Macpherson, chair of Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC), will present a policy statement Wednesday night at the LUPC that will eliminate this after-the-fact dealing without resident due diligence. See following story “LUPC Meet to Discuss Policy Affecting JPI, All of Venice.”

Pedestrian fire exit gate is getting some changes from Building and Safety Inspector David Tsau. See following story “JPI Given Corrective Action Notice.”

Keep your emails coming. Tell them you want the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan (OTSP) honored, upheld. See paragraphs under What We Want. Email LA Planning Director Gail Goldberg at [email protected]; Fire Inspector II Terrence O’Connell at [email protected]; Fire Inspector II Michael Ng [email protected]; Councilman Bill Rosendahl at [email protected]; Council office assistant Planning Deputy Marina Martos at [email protected]; Council office assistant Planning Deputy Whitney Blumenfeld at [email protected]; and cc Venice Council Representative Arturo Pina at [email protected] lacity.org; [email protected] and [email protected] VeniceNC.org. More have gotten into the picture.

Sequence of Recent Events

• Triangle Update headlines story 8 August about LA Planning refusing to enforce Oxford Triangle Specific Plan. Requests residents to write in protest.

• Triangle Update newsletter of August 19 explains how residents’ due diligence has been preempted by LA Planning and how this addition of gates, etc. after the conditioning process is truly a developer’s delight. Requests residents to write in protest.

• Thatcher resident Mary Margaret Martinez tapes the JPI leasing agent stating that residents could park on Thatcher and use pedestrian fire emergency gate for entrance by tapping in the code. Violation of OTSP. City officials did not heed cry of residents about the fire gate being intended as or used as an entrance until they were told it was on tape.

• Mary Margaret Martinez gets residents to protest at the corner of Jefferson Way and Lincoln last Saturday.

• Berkeley resident Elizabeth Wright rallies the Triangle with her flyer to write City Hall. Requests residents to write in protest.

• Howard resident and Chairman of the Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Challis Macpherson is proposing a policy change that would allow the LUPC to have control over projects that have significant changes after the conditioning process.

History

The 298-unit JPI apartment house at 3221 Carter, behind the homes on Berkeley and Thatcher went thru the LA Planning process from 2003 thru 2005. Demolition started at the end of 2005, construction followed. JPI is about to get their certificate of occupancy. Many of the buildings have temporary occupancy status now. After the complete project receives a certificate of occupancy, the process of making a change to the project becomes harder.

Residents made sure during the planning years that this project included conditions to their benefit. 

But a fire gate at Thatcher was added by the fire department after the conditioning process even though the fire department attended all the conditioning hearings. This fire gate had a code, a keyed lock, and a handle on the Thatcher side for firemen to enter yet was a pedestrian emergency fire exit gate for tenants.

A space from the southwest corner of project to the turnstiles, passageways became evident. The fire gate had hardware to be used as an entrance. Carter from the vehicle exclusion gate at Carter-Berkeley allows pedestrians entrance. All–the fire gate, the southwest corner gap, the Carter opening violate the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan paragraph 9.C.4 that states there shall be no ingress or egress from the C4-OX (high density, JPI) to the R-1 single-family homes.

Meanwhile LA City Planning refused to allow the gate to be conditioned, require a fence at the southwest corner, require a fence from Carter-Berkeley vehicle exclusion gate to southwest corner of Brennans’ Pub, all in accordance with the OTSP. Planning’s claim was that they had an “unwritten policy” preventing such conditioning after the conditioning process. This “unwritten” policy violates a City Ordinance, the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan, 170,155. This violation turns into a developers delight and denies the residents of the Triangle due process.

What We Want

  Fire Gate—We want all exterior (Thatcher side) hardware removed. It is a pedestrian fire exit gate. We want signs on interior and exterior stating that this is a fire gate, for fire only. We want the gate hot-wired with a loud siren so that the gate will not be accessed casually. We want the fence next to the gate to be high enough so that one cannot step over. We want the gate tall enough to prevent someone on Thatcher side from leaning over the gate and hitting the handicap bar. We want mesh surrounding the gate to prevent one from opening from the Thatcher side.

  This was done for Mirabella after the conditioning process in 1998, prior to certificate of occupancy, for four fire gates on Thatcher…32 feet from JPI project. Present LA Planning “unwritten” policy is not to condition such.

Safety Issue—Understand that this gate is rear access to 16 homes that abut the property. It is a safety issue. Mirabella and Marina Point have both had experiences of burglary, robbery, etc using fire exit gates not properly attended. Robbers enter/exit via fire gates and enter/exit via Triangle. Sixteen homes are accustomed to commercial establishments behind their homes having security. Southpark had security guards 24/7. When building was abandoned, fire resulted. All sixteen homes were in jeopardy.

  A casually opened fire gate is an invitation for access.

  Southwest Corner—We want a fence from southwest corner of building to turn still. Two motorcycles and a motor scooter were photographed Saturday accessing the Triangle via the gap. This is a violation of the OTSP.

  Carter—We want a six-foot cement block fence from the vehicle fire gate at Carter-Berkeley to the edge of Brennan’s Pub. Right now a chain and two white plastic water containers are the only thing preventing vehicle access; pedestrian access is without problems. Part of property will revert to Brennans’ Pub but it had a fence before. Return what was there. We want it fenced to prevent pedestrian and vehicle access into the Triangle in accordance with the OTSP.

 JPI Given Corrective Action Notice

Building Inspector David Tsau issued a notice for corrective action to JPI to blank out the code portion of the hardware on the pedestrian fire emergency exit gate and to put signs on both sides of gate.

The sign on the project side of pedestrian fire emergency exit gate will say “Emergency Exit Only.” The sign on the Thatcher side of gate will say “Fire Department Access Only.”

Experience of Triangle residents is that if management has a key, the door will remain open or it will be opened for convenience of management.

Triangle residents see this as an entrance in eyes of JPI. The sixteen homes abutting property consider this a high priority safety issue.

Also at issue and remedied this week was the right side of the gate that was open, without a fence. A cement block wall was added; the wall would have allowed anyone to walk up to wall and step over fence. Fence height was increased on right side to prevent such and mesh was added to prevent one from hanging over to hit the push bar.

The perplexing part of this gate is that L.A. Planning says it is for the safety of the tenants to get out. Fire department says it is necessary for firemen to get in. Next to this gate on Thatcher is the vehicle fire gate. Don’t firemen arrive on fire trucks? If they enter via the vehicle fire gate, they can use the push bar on the project side to open gate. Or are they going to be fighting tenants in flight. Firemen rushing to get in; tenants rushing to get out, particularly the handicapped. Something is wrong with this picture. Since when do firemen need both vehicle fire and pedestrian fire gates for entry?

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