Thursday, January 23

Westwood residents concerned over proposals for new student housing

UCLA has plans to add five student housing buildings around campus and Westwood Village. Many residents feel a proposed 20-story housing complex that will replace a UCLA Extension building on Le Conte Avenue will disrupt the aesthetic of the Village. (Laura Uzes/Daily Bruin)

Some Westwood residents said they are concerned that UCLA’s plans for new student housing may negatively impact the community.

UCLA announced a proposal in May for additional student housing at five locations both on the Hill and around Westwood to accommodate increasing enrollment.

Some Westwood Village leaders said at a recent hearing they think the housing projects violate an agreement UCLA made with Westwood Village to refrain from building additional housing in the Village where it might be disruptive to residential areas.

The Regents of the University of California and the Westwood Hills Property Owners Association settled an agreement in 1978 to limit development on Lot 15, one of the sites proposed for student housing, according to UCLA’s proposal.

Alvin Milder, chairman of UCLA Watch, a coalition of homeowner groups that focuses on issues that impact Westwood, said he thinks the agreement prevents the university from building housing on Lot 15.

“They did have an agreement that Lot 15 would be used for benign use only,” he said.

According to UCLA’s proposal, the university is permitted to amend the agreement and build housing on Lot 15 when there are substantial changes in the university that would require a modification.

Carole Magnuson, vice president of the Westwood Hills Property Owners Association, said the 1978 agreement prevented the university from building housing east of De Neve Drive. She added many residents do not oppose the university’s plan, but some suggested the university could also build additional amenities in the Village, like a community garden.

“The only person I heard object to additional housing (at a recent hearing) was one landlord,” she said. “Everyone else was for it, but felt that other values should be considered.”

Magnuson added many residents are more concerned that the proposed buildings do not fit in with the surrounding architecture.

One of the proposed housing sites will replace a UCLA Extension building located on Le Conte Avenue with a 20-story building. UCLA will replace the current UNEX building because it is seismically deficient, according to the proposal.

Magnuson said she thinks the proposed building will not be cohesive with its surroundings. She added she thinks UCLA could take some of the rooms planned for the UNEX site to other locations to avoid building such a large structure.

“The concern about a 20-story building is that it is not compatible with its surroundings,” she said. “The notion was that UCLA could design a more compatible building.”

Milder added the UC’s California Environmental Quality Act handbook states that campuses need to make their buildings compatible with their surroundings.

“That’s also a general principle of urban planning,” he said.

In the project proposal, UCLA conceded the projects may have a substantial impact on environmental issues and added it will address those potential impacts in the draft environmental impact report, which will be released later this month.

UCLA officials did not immediately reply for comment.

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  • Chi Lau

    Residents need to band together and sue UCLA for attempting to destroy their community.

    • Eyesocket Kabarbabar

      Residents deserve to have their single family homes upzoned for apartments so housing is more affordable for UCLA students living off campus. Students need to band together and sue homeowners for hoarding opportunity and keeping them down.

      • Publius

        It’s cringeworthy to read that someone thinks ‘hoarding opportunity and keeping you down’ are causes of action. They are not.

        • Eyesocket Kabarbabar

          so are you saying homeowners aren’t doing that?

          • Publius

            It doesn’t really matter. Neither of those things are really causes of action. A court isn’t interested in hearing UCLA students vent. As it happens, there really is no right to live in Westwood, not even a right to live close to campus. A judge isn’t going to pound his gavel and suddenly Westwood rents will plummet. Class warfare isn’t the solution to any supposed housing crisis.

          • Eyesocket Kabarbabar

            you statement implies that a court would care more about rich af Westwood homeowners than UCLA students. Class warfare is the solution to the housing crisis. Wealthy neighborhoods have abused the planning system to better themselves. They’ve blocked individual projects, and ensured that their neighborhoods are strictly zoned, allowing little more housing to be built than what is already there. This is especially true of single family zoning. Have you seen how much of LA is single family zoning? It’s insane, especially considering how much of it is near transit. Westwood has a purple line station coming by the time of the Olympics. Wealthy NIMBYs need to be put in their place and have their single family neighborhoods upzoned massively so students can live near campus and station. These homeowners are elitist opportunity hoarders. This is class warfare, don’t get it twisted.

          • Publius

            Those are all really cool opinions, and good luck with getting housing prices down–in a political setting, that is by initiatives, referenda, and through representative government.

            The court system is not the venue for resolving your grievances. Being angry at NIMBYs is not a cause of action. There is no relief a court will give you.

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  • Armando_Cedillo

    Parking and driving in Westwood is already a nightmare. If UCLA insists on building these monstrosities they should only be for students who do not have cars.