By Matt Wilhalme, 6/23/2011
Some Neighbors and Others Opposed the Plan for a Security Wall
Mayor Antonio Villa-raigosa’s quest to build a wall around his official mayoral residence at the Getty House on Irving Boulevard has come one step closer to pouring concrete.
The mayor’s office filed paperwork on Feb. 2 to receive a variance to city municipal code to build a six-foot-three-inch wall around the residence. City code only allows for a maximum fence height of 42-inches.
On April 21, a public hearing held by the Office of Zoning Administration gave members of the community an opportunity to voice their opinion. But on June 8, the mayor was granted his request for the fence.
“We are unaware that a variance has been granted,” said John Welborne, Windsor Square Association vice president for planning and land use. “It makes it difficult to comment, and since we have not seen the grant, we would have no idea if we are going appeal the zoning administrators decision.”
The fact that a decision has been made surprised residents, but the ruling did not, as he is the mayor of the city, Welborne said.
Residents have the opportunity to appeal the decision if they can file their request before the June 23 deadline. As of June 21, no appeal had been filed with the Office of Zoning Administration.
“We hadn’t thought about doing anything on appeal, because we were under the impression it probably wouldn’t make a difference,” said Patty Lombard, who was president of the Hancock Park Garden Club when the plans for a wall were first proposed.
The city’s general services department and police department wanted to construct the wall “in order to provide enhanced security for the front of the house”.
The police department had originally sought an eight-foot-five-inch fence because of the house’s position on the corner at 605 S. Irving Blvd.
Lombard said her group wanted a 42-inch fence, which would have been in compliance with current municipal code, and large thorny bushes could have served as a deterrent to those seeking to breach the property.
The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, Windsor Square HPOZ Board, and the publisher of the Larchmont Chronicle also filed letters in opposition to the fence at the public hearing on April 21.
“When he leaves, we will be stuck with the fence whether or not there is an occupant of the house,” according to the testimony of the Windsor Square HPOZ Board. “In addition, more people would have attended this hearing, but the [location] was not posted.”
City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District, who was represented by Renee Weitzer at the public hearing, stated that the councilmember is always against over-in-height fences, but felt that the mayor’s request was different.
“Is the mayor, in fact, special?” Welborne asked. “Is this property special? I think most of the people think that like any other house in Windsor Square it should follow the same rules.”