Monday, November 18

Urban planning students suggest changes to Westwood Village Specific Plan

A UCLA graduate class met with Westwood officials and residents Thursday to discuss changes to the Westwood Village Specific Plan. (Diana Luna/Daily Bruin)

A UCLA graduate class met with Westwood officials and residents Thursday to discuss changes to the Westwood Village Specific Plan. (Diana Luna/Daily Bruin)

Urban planning graduate students suggested officials split Westwood Village into four different districts, among other suggestions, to better cater to students and other residents during a meeting Thursday.

This quarter, architect John Kaliski led a class that aims to update the Westwood Village Specific Plan based on input from residents and businesses. The plan is a master-planning document aimed at maintaining the balance of businesses in the Village.

In 1989, the city adopted the plan after the Village saw an oversaturation of fast food restaurants and movie theaters. The plan has since been amended twice, in 1991 and 2004.

The Westwood Village Improvement Association’s board of directors will decide which changes it will consider implementing at its June meeting, said Andrew Thomas, executive director of the association. If the board decides to make changes, the association will create a committee of board members and residents who will revise the plan.

Paige Colton, a graduate student in urban planning, said students in the class thought the plan was too broad because it attempted to create guidelines that served both students’ and regional consumers’ interests. She added she thinks certain restrictions in the plan have drawn businesses away from the Village.

Students suggested splitting the Village into four districts to accomodate different needs – a college town, a family zone, a main street and a Wilshire corridor. Westwood Boulevard would be the main street district and attract a mix of retail stores and restaurants for both students and other residents, and the Wilshire corridor district would consist of high-rise office buildings.

The college town would be west of Westwood Boulevard and focus on student-friendly businesses such as fast-food restaurants and bars. The family zone would be east of Westwood Boulevard and would focus on family-friendly businesses, such as grocery stores and banks.

Brittany Jang, a graduate student in urban planning, said the class observed similar businesses already gather in clusters. She added each district would have different business requirements so they could satisfy different types of consumers.

Students also suggested making the Village more pedestrian- and bike-friendly by creating a bike lane on Westwood Boulevard and improving sidewalks.

Colin Piethe, a graduate student in urban planning, said the class thinks the association and the city should work to expedite the Mobility Plan 2035, which would create the bike lane on Westwood Boulevard and add others throughout the city.

Piethe added creating a parking district in the Village can fund beautification projects and sidewalk improvements. In parking districts, some of the street-parking revenue benefits neighborhoods instead of only contributing to a citywide general fund.

He said business was more successful after towns, such as Old Town Pasadena, implemented parking districts.

Piethe added he thinks the association should also make off-street parking lots more accessible because they are currently underused.

Some residents and business owners at the meeting said they were skeptical of the class’ ideas on improving Westwood because the changes may not cater to everyone.

Sandy Brown, president of the Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association, said she doesn’t think the class acknowledged people in surrounding residential areas who have different needs from students and ordinary consumers.

Berry Fdin, who owns London Cleaners on Gayley Avenue, said he disagrees with creating districts because his business caters to nonstudents but currently falls within the college town boundary. Steve Sann, chair of the Westwood Community Council, said several other businesses, currently included in the college town boundaries, are relevant to other residents.

The class will analyze the feedback from the meeting and present finalized changes to the public June 2 at 3 p.m. at 10880 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 105.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit
News senior staff

Roberto Luna Jr. is currently a senior staffer covering Westwood, crime and transportation. He was previously an assistant News editor from 2015-2016 and a News contributor from 2014-2015.

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.