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Contentious Strathmore Drive Project Finds An Ally in Donald Shoup

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The last we heard of the proposed Strathmore Drive project, a 29-unit, five-story planned apartment complex (geared towards students) near UCLA, the building was being targeted by opponents who felt the project was not only too big, but also ugly. Backed by local architecture stars like Hitoshi Abe and Craig Hodgetts, the opposition felt the building "was an example of mediocre design" according to the Architect's Newspaper, which covered the Planning Commission's approval of the project earlier this year. Yesterday, the project advanced through the Planning and Land Use Committee, which denied an appeal filed by resident Wolfgang Veith, who argued "the proposed project will significantly impact the existing Netura-built Strathmore Apartments directly across the narrow Strathmore Drive." Continuing to worry about the aesthetics of the project (and arguing an EIR should have been conducted), Veith argued that the new building would "be architecturally completely unrelated" to its surroundings. (Obviously, Veith is new to LA.)

But who did the developer PPC Land Venture have on his side? None other than Donald Shoup, the UCLA professor and transportation guru, who submitted a letter to the committee on behalf of the project. Here's an except and the full letter is below. Additionally, other members of the biking/transportation community spoke out in defense of the project yesterday. From Shoup's letter:

"The particular virtue of the Strathmore Drive project is that it will cater to residents who do not own cars. The developer has agreed to unbundle the cost of parking from the rent it charges its residents. That is, the rent for a parking space will be a separate monthly charge from the rent for an apartment?.This policy will make the housing more affordable for residents without cars and less affordable for residents with cars. The project will thus selectively attract residents who do not own cars.”

The development was expected to be approved by the full Council today. Yesterday, City Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the area, opted to neither deny or recommend the appeal of the building.

Donald Shoup

· Battle over Project on Strathmore Drive [Curbed LA]