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Most city residents who are worried about home security either build a wall to keep out intruders or buy a dog with a loud bark. But as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa learned when he wanted to erect a security wall, even he had to abide by the city laws.
On Feb. 2, the mayor’s office submitted paperwork to receive a variance to city bylaws to build a security wall surrounding the Getty House in Windsor Square. Only the second mayor to reside at the Getty House (Tom Bradley being the first), Villaraigosa moved into the official residence of the Mayor of Los Angeles at 605 S. Irving Blvd. in 2005.
The newly developed plan is actually revised from the eight-and-a-half-foot wall that was originally bandied about a couple of months ago and rejected outright by the Windsor Square Association. The new proposal calls for a six-foot wall, still greater than the allotted 42 inches that is permitted.
When informed that the mayor’s office had filed the paperwork seeking a variance, John Welborne, Windsor Square Association vice president for planning and land use, was caught off guard, even though the mayor’s office is not responsible to notice the association.
“Because it appears that nobody from the mayor’s office or the City Planning Department’s Office of Zoning Administration has notified the Getty House neighbors of the filing of a variance application, such an application has yet to be considered by the Board of the Windsor Square Association,” Welborne said. “I would note, however, that virtually everyone in the City of Los Angeles who erects, or seeks to erect, an over-in-height fence or wall in the required, open, front yard setback area of a single-family residence says the reason is ‘for security.’ Should all of Los Angeles, including its historic residential neighborhoods, become a collection of walled compounds?”
Apparently placed on the fast track (some zoning decisions can take months), a deadline for a ruling has been set for April 18, meaning a public hearing will have to be arranged soon. But according to the Department of City Planning, they “probably won’t make that deadline,” seeing how backed up the office is.
“Those deadlines can always be extended but I consider April to be pretty far away,” Welborne said.
Craig Weber, of the Department of City Planning, said increased security is not a new issue at the Getty House.
“Security concern has been an ongoing issue,” Weber said.
Although an LAPD Wilshire Division spokesperson said there have been no calls for service that he was aware of to the mayor’s home, there have been organized demonstrations in the past when city librarians, and members of the Service Employees International Union protested outside the house.
Weber also pointed out that an application for variance to build a wall had actually been filed in 1996 by the mayor’s office but was later withdrawn. The mayor’s office contends that a protective wall around the Getty House, named for George Getty, the son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, would save taxpayers money because around-the-clock security would not be needed. The design of the six-foot wall calls for security features to be embedded in the construction.
I looked at the house on Google maps and the surrounding homes to see what they have. I understand the Mayor’s concern, with his home sticking out like a sore thumb there on the corner and I’d want more privacy if nothing more.
Anyway some of the other homes have large, tall, 6 foot green bush hedges surrounding their homes and that works good. A couple do have walls toward the back of their homes too.
Some large, tall, bush hedges is what he needs to put around his home. Oftentimes people get a false sense of security with walls that can be climbed over anyway.
Isn’t this the same spoiled little brat who mocks border walls?
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I live across the street. We moved into this neighborhood 16 years ago because we loved the stately homes and beautiful landscaping. It is like living in a beautiful park. We have voted as a neighborhood to allow only 42″ walls to keep the integrity of this lovely neighbohood- not a compound with fortified walls. What do walls in front of homes say for a neighborhood- “it is not safe here- we are afraid”. This does not raise property values- it lowers them. This does not add beauty to the street- it hides it. We have safeguards in place- an HPOZ, a city zoning law, a homeowners assn. & a Historical Society.
They all disapprove of this zone variance. That should be enough. The Mayor is in office less than 2 yrs more.
Is this the legacy he wants to leave the neighborhood.
We will still be living here long after he has gone. We consider our neighbors in our plans for our property.
The Getty House has been a great neighbor in the past.
We are delighted to have this historical home on our street. We all hope that it will remain a beautiful home.