LA City Council Approves ICO; Bel Air Residents Gratified

This article was written by Victoria Talbot and published by the Beverly Hills Courier

The Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance (BAHOA) commended Los Angeles’ City Council for unanimously approving the city’s Interim Control Ordinance (ICO), by a 15-0 vote, that will affect 15 neighborhoods with an historic preservation overlay zone (HPOZ).

The ICO was carefully crafted to each neighborhood to protect sensitive areas from the impacts of Mansionization.

In Bel-Air, the ICO says, “No building permit shall issue for a project in Bel-Air on a hillside area lot where the exempted grading … exceeds 6,000 cubic yards.” This temporary ordinance is meant to put a moratorium on overdevelopment while the city planners study ways to fix problems with the Baseline Hillside Ordinance. Loopholes do not allow developers to increase height, but they may excavate without restriction. Homes are thus being built two-thirds underground. They only require hauling permits to remove the dirt.

6,000 cubic yards is still enough dirt to require 1,200 truck trips to export the soil, it is still a limit on the excavation export in the once-peaceful hillsides.

“We thank Councilmember Koretz and his staff for their leadership in advocating on behalf of Bel-Air and all the residents of Los Angeles,” said Dan Fisk, chairman of the Alliance. The hauling of 6,000 cubic yards of dirt results in 1,200 truck trips, which damages city roads, causes accidents and contributes to the hillside erosion. This is a vast improvement from having no limit. More comprehensive regulations are needed to protect the character of our neighborhoods; halt detrimental environmental impacts on our communities and keep are roads safe.”

“The L.A. City Council’s action today was the direct result of the alliance’s efforts to solve this problem,” said Fred Rosen, president/CEO of the alliance. “The city of Los Angeles needs to halt the mega-development currently happening in our communities before irreparable damage is done to our hillsides and before anyone gets hurt.” At the BAHOA meeting last week, Rosen pointed out there are currently 70 projects exceeding 20,000 square feet in progress in Bel -Air.

Rosen raised the specter of last year’s Loma Vista accidents in Beverly Hills. “In neighboring Beverly Hills, unregulated hauling and construction have caused life-ending accidents of two policemen,” he said. The two areas share the same hazardous conditions.

Downtown at City Council last week, the Bel-Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council and several other organizations spoke in favor of the ordinance.

However, at the recent Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) meeting, when the ordinance was being approved to be sent to the L.A. City Council, Bel-Air Association (BAA) President Ron Hudson spoke out against the ICO. In a weird spin, the BAA came out with a press release Wednesday afternoon, apparently unaware that the council had already passed the ICO on Tuesday. The contents took credit for the ICO, which they had publicly previously opposed. 

Ignoring history, the BAA claimed that: “The Bel-Air Association has helped to redefine the law to finally focus on the devastating truck traffic that has been endangering our community.”

The ICO will be in force for 45 days awaiting L.A. City Council extension. It is likely to be extended for up to 22 months while the city of Los Angeles examines loopholes in the Baseline Hillside Ordinance and the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance.