Westside Residents Association

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Westside Residents Association


There was no neighborhood association looking out for the community’s interests in the Sawtelle area until 1984 when the Westside Residents Association (WRA) was organized in response to rampant over-development in the 1980s. At that time, local residents were notified that a large development project (a 12-story office building and 4-story parking structure) was planned for Olympic Boulevard between Barry & Federal Avenues. This project would have brought more than 2500 cars into our neighborhood each day. It was clear that this would have had lasting consequences and would have changed the character of our community.

Our neighborhood could no longer ignore the threat of commercial interests whose large, highly- profitable developments would be constructed at the expense of the people who lived here. The WRA mounted fierce opposition to this project which caused a reduction of the project's size. As a result of the opposition, the project was delayed, eventually resulting in its abandonment. Public Storage, Inc. then contacted the WRA, who negotiated an agreement to only build a 4-story storage building with negligible traffic. This fight was not without its casualties, as a WRA member collapsed in City Hall during a hearing on the project and later died.

After that, the WRA became involved in many neighborhood issues. It successfully lobbied for the installation of four-way stop signs at every intersection in the area bordered by Barrington, Olympic, Sawtelle and Santa Monica Boulevard. Before this time, the Department of Transportation would agree to a 4-way stop intersection only if multiple traffic accidents at that location were documented. Because of the efforts of the WRA, this area became the first community in the City of Los Angeles to use stop signs as a tool to slow traffic on neighborhood streets. A long-standing goal of the WRA has always been to reduce "cut-through" traffic and make our streets safer for residents.

The WRA was instrumental in establishing a permit-parking district in this neighborhood. This allowed our residents the opportunity to request permit parking for their own individual block and to choose whatever parking regulations they felt would be most suitable for their location. The WRA also pressed the Santa Monica Blue Bus Company to redirect its route from our neighborhood streets onto more appropriate mainline thoroughfares.

To help fight crime, the WRA has served as a liaison between the neighborhood and the LAPD. The WRA has representatives on the WLA Community-Police Advisory Board and has helped form the "Neighborhood Watch" program. It has been a major force in reducing graffiti and vandalism throughout the Sawtelle area. In response to the intrusion of several adult entertainment businesses, the WRA spearheaded a drive for the enactment of a new Adult Entertainment Ordinance which was the first such ordinance enacted in the City of Los Angeles in over 30 years.

While the WRA is dedicated to preserving the residential quality of our neighborhood, it does not oppose all development. It has represented the neighborhood in negotiations with many large projects, including the Ralphs Market, the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and the Westside Media Center. As a result of these negotiations, significant concessions were made to minimize the impact of increased traffic on our streets and a traffic mitigation fund has been created. Over the years, the WRA successfully opposed zone changes which would have razed single-family homes and duplexes to allow for the construction of high-density apartment buildings and condos.

The WRA is a volunteer, nonprofit organization. It serves the community bordered by Wilshire Boulevard, the San Diego Freeway, the Santa Monica Freeway and Centinela Avenue. Any person residing or owning property within these boundaries may join. The WRA is governed by a Managing Committee which meets at least every other month.
The WRA welcomes the participation of all neighborhood residents and property owners alike. It encourages all residents to join in an effort to help make our West LA neighborhood a better place to live.

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