The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance looks forward to a robust discussion regarding whether the locally designated First Baptist Church will experience a “substantial adverse change” as described in the staff report on Page 5 (of 5). This report further states that “Such a change is defined as a physical demolition, destruction, relocation, or alteration of a resource or its immediate surroundings (emphasis added).
The staff report indicates that “There will be no physical demolition, destruction, relocation or alteration of the First Baptist Church …” but consideration should be given to the church’s immediate surroundings because they will certainly be altered by the new development.
The historic assessments provided as exhibits indicated that the home next to the church at 910 Wetherly is not eligible for designation. However, when the church received local cultural resource designation in 1993, the 1923-built home next to it was located on the same large parcel of land, thus being within the church’s immediate surroundings and including landscaping and trees which would be permanently lost.
The staff report further states that “Shade and shadow caused by the development is not considered a substantial adverse change.” Not considered substantial by whom?It does not appear that the effects of shade and shadow were systematically or carefully analyzed, either in the historic resource assessments provided in exhibits or like what should have been done for this proposed project in a full Environmental Impact Report.
Because this project is being developed as 100 percent affordable housing, its height is automatically allowed to be much higher than other properties in the area and its parking requirements much skimpier than usual requirements. Going further, the staff report also says that “The applicant has requested an incentive for a reduction in rear yard setback, side yard setbacks and the reduction in open space required.”
The WHPA questions the wisdom of granting the applicant’s request for such an incentive. We encourage the Historic Preservation Commission and the developer to consider providing more “breathing room” for the First Baptist Church in its diminished surroundings, with larger setbacks and more green space especially between the church’s northern side and any new development.
Please place this correspondence into the public record and online, and make it available to our historic preservation commissioners. Thank you.
WHPA Board of Directors Judson Feder, Susana Miller, Roy Oldenkamp, Victor Omelczenko, Jon Ponder