The community came out to celebrate Playa del Rey resident and local real estate agent Jane St. John at the Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Club’s annual Cultural Dinner celebration on October 20th.
The crowd at the sold-out Westchester Elks Lodge was treated to dinner, cocktails and entertainment courtesy of two singing waiters at the “That’s Amore” themed gala, which raises money for the Marina del Rey-based club’s local and international services projects.
During the event, St. John was recognized with the club’s 2021 Sunrise Community Service Award for her decades-long support of the community, events and nonprofits including AMCS, the Holiday Home Tour, Helen’s Room, local schools, the Fourth of July Parade and more. St. John has also hosted the Playa del Rey Toy and Shelter Animal Drive for the last 21 years in Triangle Park. All of the toys collected are donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. This year’s event is scheduled for December 4.
As our thoughts turn to the holidays and ways to give back, local nonprofits are inviting the community to get involved, donate and volunteer with their organizations.
We reached out to Westchester/Playa nonprofits to learn about their upcoming projects and asked them to share how the neighborhood could support their efforts as we head into the holiday season.
Below is our round-up of local organizations offering volunteer opportunities and ways you can help make a positive impact on the community, whether you’re passionate about the environment, mental health, seniors or anything in-between. If you are feeling extra generous, make sure to visit these nonprofits’ websites and social media pages on Giving Tuesday (November 30) to donate to their worthwhile causes.
The Community Plan Update for Westchester/Playa is proposing some zoning changes to parts of our neighborhood that may affect our homes, neighborhood character and daily commutes.
The Community Plan is a blueprint from the Los Angeles City Planning Department that sets forth neighborhood-specific goals related to housing and development. Community Plans are important because they inform developers and residents where development will be permitted. The Plan identifies and provides for economic opportunities, and maintenance of significant environmental resources. It also seeks to enhance the community identity and recognize the unique character of neighborhoods. Together, the City Zoning Code and the Zoning Maps identify the specific types of land use and development standards applicable for land use within the Westchester and Playa del Rey area.
City Planning released the first Draft of the Community Plan Update in July 2020 and held online information sessions to inform stakeholders. In-person outreach was not possible due to the pandemic. Last year, City Planning solicited stakeholder feedback and they have now compiled a summary of notes from our community members about what we liked and disliked about the first Draft of the Community Plan. In a summary of the City’s notes, they noted that 59 percent of stakeholders in Westchester/Playa strongly disagreed with City Planning’s first draft of their “Emerging Vision Statement” and 50 percent of the community strongly disagreed with their “Guiding Principles.”
Some of the proposed zoning changes that residents were most concerned with were proposed in areas bordering major corridors like Manchester Ave., La Tijera Blvd., and Airport Blvd. In some of these areas in Westchester, City Planning has proposed a zoning change from R1 or R2 with single family homes and duplexes to R4 or R5 for dense residential and/or commercial development. One goal of the Community Plan is to create more affordable housing opportunities, and according to feedback, residents felt these zoning changes would actually remove affordable housing options in some of the most diverse neighborhoods by replacing them with high density development.
City Planning is also proposing elevating Manchester Ave.’s identity as an active, walkable street corridor with retail and housing options. This zoning change would affect adjacent R1, R2 and R3 neighborhoods currently zoned with single family homes, duplexes and small apartment buildings and allow high density mixed-use (housing and retail) development. Some of the concerns residents have expressed were that dense mixed-use development removes existing affordable housing options and would create inappropriate transitions between “high-scale” development and “lower-scale” residential areas. In addition, the market rate housing created by upzoning would not adequately address the affordable housing crisis.
Other areas that City Planning is targeting for zoning changes include the Triangle area in Osage; the eastside of La Tijera from Kittyhawk to Belford; Flight Ave. between 80th and 85th in Westport Heights; and Lilienthal Ave. between 86th Place and Yorktown, just west of Airport Blvd. These neighborhoods are currently zoned R1 and R2 for single family homes or duplexes. City Planning is proposing these areas be rezoned as “Medium Residential Core,” which would allow for three to five stories and up to 10 units per lot. Residents living in Westport Heights and Osage expressed concern that these zoning changes would allow for large scale development literally right next to single family homes, with inadequate transitions and a loss of neighborhood character. Other concerns expressed by residents were that these changes would decrease quality of life, increase traffic and decrease property values for residents near zoning changes. The primary concern expressed with all of these zoning proposals is that our community would potentially lose existing affordable housing options like duplexes and small, low rise apartment buildings in favor of high density market rate units.
With the Community Plan Update, we have a unique opportunity to design a more user-friendly and walkable downtown Westchester in the Central Business District, as well as preserve and enhance the Triangle business pedestrian district. We have an opportunity to advocate for goals that are important to our community, more open green space, improved commercial and mixed-use development in appropriate areas that does not remove existing affordable housing and protects our historic beach town of Playa del Rey by limiting building height and promoting coastal resilience.
The Second Draft of the Community Plan is set to be released in the next few months. City Planning will again solicit feedback from our community residents. It’s not too late to submit your comments about these proposed changes. Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The current draft can be found HERE. A link to a summary of the community comments can be found HERE.
By Cory Birkett. Cory Birkett is a longtime Westchester resident and has closely followed the Community Plan Update process. She also serves as a member of the NCWP’s Planning and Land Use Committee.
For Westchester Arts & Music Block Party founder John Sharpe, WAM is all about fun, family, and connection, and he can’t wait to see everyone on September 18th for the sixth annual event.
“Feeling connected and knowing your neighbors beyond the drive-by wave is huge,” said Sharpe. “WAM provides that opportunity to get to know people and creates that community connection for me. Every year, WAM gets better and better, and we tap into something that has the potential to be even greater.”
We love our community and enjoy celebrating its people, places and events each month in the pages of the Westchester/Playa HomeTown News!
Our Best Of Readers’ Poll is our super-sized way to highlight all the best things about living and working in Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista and Marina del Rey. With so many excellent restaurants, businesses and organizations in the area, we love giving you—our readers—an annual opportunity to vote for your favorites. You are the real experts, and you’ve been helping us honor these outstanding individuals year after year! Thank you for being a part of recognizing those who make our community a special place to live, work and visit.
As the pandemic starts to appear in the rear-view mirror and vaccination numbers continue to rise, local businesses and organizations are beginning to plan and host events again.
While last year every major summer happening was canceled or went virtual, as we move toward the state’s June 15 reopening date, more activities and events keep getting announced. With many organizations still working on finalizing their calendars for the next few months, here’s a snapshot of some of the exciting events and activities that have been announced so far for this summer!
Everyone’s business could use a little help these days, so every month we’re featuring a different small business to help promote shopping locally and to support community members. When Ryan Xavier lost his job due to COVID in March, he decided to launch a new website that would not only solve the problem of having too much fruit in his yard with no easy way to share it, but would also help reduce backyard food waste across Los Angeles and beyond. Since launching the summer of last year, GoGalora.com now has more than 9,000 users across the U.S. who are sharing and selling their backyard fruit, veggies and more, while making meaningful connections with their neighbors.
Get the scoop on this month’s business spotlight by reading below!
On Monday, February 8th, the Westchester Family YMCA launched the Painted Pantry Project to address the growing needs of those facing food insecurities in the community. YMCA volunteers, representatives from the neighborhood council, donors and Councilmember Bonin were on hand to celebrate, and instead of a traditional ribbon cutting, guests were invited to write positive messages on pieces of ribbon which were then tied to the Y’s fence.
Born in 1913, native Angeleno William H. Hannon dedicated his life to giving back to his community. His father, a rancher, and his mother, a homemaker, instilled in him a love of the history of the region. Upon graduation from Loyola High School in 1933, Hannon had his heart set on attending Loyola University of Los Angeles, which had just opened their campus in 1930 in a remote rural area of the City of Los Angeles, which would become Westchester.