Forget the Hollywood Community Plan--if you want City Hall fireworks, the USC Specific Plan is where it's at. The City Planning Commission held a marathon hearing yesterday to consider a Specific Plan and Development Agreement (pdf) that would change the Zoning Code so that USC can build an unprecedented expansion of residential and commercial developments in the neighborhood. The most notable addition included in the Specific Plan is The Village at USC, which would replace the rundown University Village. As City Planner Faisal Robles explained at the beginning of the hearing, USC's planning efforts up until this point have not really involved public input, and have produced "inwardly oriented, non-pedestrian development." The possibility of new investment in the neighborhood, however, has groups like United Neighbors In Defense Against Displacement concerned that higher prices and increased demand for housing will displace the people currently living in the area--many of whom rely on the affordable housing available in the neighborhood. The CPC eventually voted, 6-2, to approve the package at the conclusion of a nine-hour hearing.
The Specific Plan would allow a total of five million square feet of development, including approximately two and a half million square feet of academic space and two million square feet of student/faculty housing. Sub Area 3 from the plan, which includes the big-ticket item of The Village at USC, would include 350,000 square feet of commercial uses, a 150 room hotel, and the relocation of the current fire station. The Development Agreement--the second half of the package considered at the hearing--would freeze approvals in place for 20 years in exchange for public benefits offered by USC. Those public benefits include funding to offset losses of affordable housing, a 25,000 square foot grocery store, an 800 square foot community space, buy-outs of four nearby alcohol licenses, graffiti abatement, a new fire station, and $350,000 for the Hoover Recreation Center.
Before approving the plan, the Planning Commission asked USC to spend $8 million on affordable housing (up from $2 million) and made a slew of smaller technical changes. More than 80 public commenters showed up to the hearing, and even though the CPC took the rare step of hosting in the full Council chambers, overflow capacity sent interested parties to view the hearing in another room at City Hall. The plan will still have to appear before the Planning and Land Use Management Committee and the full Council for approval.
· The Village at USC is Ready For Its Close Up [Curbed LA]
· Neighbors Worried The Village at USC Will Be Too Gentrifying [Curbed LA]