INGLEWOOD — Residents made their voices heard at a special planning meeting Aug. 24, regarding proposed zoning changes related to two transit-oriented development projects.
The Planning Commission was due to vote on zone changes, general plan amendments and an environmental impact report for the proposed Westchester/Veterans and Crenshaw/Imperial plan areas. Due to community uproar, the Planning Commission voted to postpone the meeting until October 6.
“I need a motion to postpone Item 5a until October 6,” Chairman Larry Spring said. The motion was held in order to allow the public to make comments.
Nearly 200 Inglewood residents were in attendance, expressing shock with a letter the city mailed to those within 500 feet of the project area, which included single-family homes. Residents believed their homes could possibly be taken due to the zoning changes.
“I want to make it clear the city has no desire to buy your homes or take them through the eminent domain process,” said Bernard McCrumby, who is a member of the city’s Planning Department.
That did little to reassure residents who spoke at length of what they saw as the effects of gentrification landing on their doorstep.
“I live at 118th and Simms and ‘TOD’ is spray painted on the retainer wall to the 105 Freeway. Is this wall moving closer to my home,” asked one resident, whose home is included in the project area for the Crenshaw/Imperial project.
The proposed plan calls for a reconfiguration of the Glenn Anderson Freeway interchange to eliminate unsafe pedestrian cross-traffic with the freeway ramp, and to create a pedestrian path to the mixed-use development to the north. The leftover space provides a great opportunity for gateway art announcing the entry to the city of Inglewood to the north and the city of Hawthorne to the south.
The Crenshaw/Imperial plan will rezone Imperial Highway from Spinning to Yukon, and along Crenshaw Boulevard from the homes abutted against the retaining wall of the freeway to 111th Place.
According to McCrumby, the city is seeking to rezone the main Crenshaw and Imperial corridors to mixed-use commercial.
Renderings of the project are located on Urbanize LA, which depicts up to 10-story towers being erected at the current shopping centers where CVS/Burlington Coat Factory, Planet Fitness and Superior Market are located. McCrumby cautioned that renderings are not final.
“To date, the Planning Department has not received any plans for those proposed shopping centers,” McCrumby said.
The Westchester/Veterans plan area runs from Oak Street to Arbor Vitae, and Osage to Inglewood Avenue.
“The idea of the project area is to detail the required notices the city has to provide to those within 500 feet of the plan area, and the new zoning will allow residents to build multi-family housing on their single-family lot,” McCrumby said.
State legislators are considering approval of two controversial pieces of legislation, that target single-family homes for rezoning.
Senate Bill 9 would allow up to four units of housing on a single-family lot, but won’t apply to historic districts or environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands and certain high-fire risk areas. It also wouldn’t apply to a house that has been occupied by a renter within the last three years.
Senate Bill 10 would allow a local government, like Inglewood, to zone any parcel of land, including a single-family lot, to allow a building of 10 units or less. The property would have to be near public transit.
Both the Westchester/Veterans and Crenshaw/Imperial plan areas are located near MTA rail lines.
Longtime resident Leroy Fisher said residents are being kept in the dark by the City Council.
“These letters were sent out with no explanation as to what the project entailed,” Fisher said. “As you can see, there are close to 200 people here and it should be overflowing with concerned residents.”
Others felt the community continues to be left out of the decision-making process for the place they have called home for decades.
“I think these projects do an injustice to the community because they don’t take us into consideration,” Regina Falconer said. “We are hard-working people, and have worked hard for our homes. If this passes, Mayor Butts doesn’t deserve another term in office. We are still mad about this permit parking issue related to SoFi Stadium.”
Other residents said they felt the city was not prepared to provide information to people who attended the meeting hoping to get their questions answered.
“How do you hold a meeting with no presentation and when generations of residents are thinking their home is going to be taken and we get a letter that explains nothing?” Lori McCallum asked. “My councilwoman is Dionne Faulk and I have reviewed her monthly newsletters and there is no mention of this project in any of them.”
One woman drove 100 miles from her home, after her mother called her distressed about the letter the city sent out.
McCallum said the disregard of residents has become a hallmark of Mayor James Butts’ administration, while he takes advantage of his position.
“Butts doesn’t deserve another term in office because besides this issue, his alleged indiscretions, car accidents and legal fees are costing us money,” McCallum said.
Residents find the simplicity of having the shopping centers close to their home is needed and are worried about their neighborhoods becoming overly saturated with people and more cars.
“I don’t want them taking away our shopping centers. They are less than 10 years old,” said Sharon Anderson. “If the zoning changes, I could ultimately be looking out my window and have a 14-unit apartment building across the street where my neighbors used to live. Parking is already a challenge, and this would be out of control. I feel like this council is trying to run us out of the city and I don’t like it.”
Retirees are concerned income that derives from property they own would suffer with the zoning.
“My mother has retired, and her property brings her income, when you see the area is being pitched as an ‘arts district’ you get nervous,” said a resident whose property falls in the Westchester/Veterans area.
News of the project comes at a pivotal time for the city, which is asking voters to increase taxes related to hotel and motel stays and real estate transfer taxes.
Mayor Butts said the city needs the additional revenue.
“With investors buying into the city, we need to make money from those transactions,” Butts said during the Aug. 24 City Council meeting.
The Planning Department will create a frequently asked questions page on the city’s website regarding the proposed zoning changes and will discuss holding more community meetings leading up to the Oct. 6 meeting, to give residents more time to ask questions and give input on the project.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.