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When the Sofitel hotel, located across the street from the Beverly Center, allowed Hollywood producer Ryan Kavanaugh, of Relativity Media, to land his helicopter on its roof last fall, neighbors were not happy. When the hotel announced it was applying for a temporary helipad permit that would allow for non-emergency landings and takeoffs, neighbors were outraged. Tuesday, the Sofitel reversed its position and announced it was no longer seeking a helipad permit.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, 5th District, who had originally come out in favor of a temporary permit for the hotel, also changed his mind this week.
“I was open to a limited trial period with very strict regulations ensuring minimal impact on neighboring residences so that the community could have a strong basis for evaluating this additional service,” Koretz said. “I also made clear that my willingness to consider a temporary permit in no way indicated any support for a permanent permit, which I have never supported. The community is not ready to support even a trial period and I believe we should respect the community’s wishes.”
One of the most vocal opponents to the hotel seeking a helipad permit was Lauren Meister, president of the West Hollywood West Residents Association, which represents nearly 1,000 homes between Melrose Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, and La Cienega and San Vicente Boulevards. Meister expressed concerns about environmental impacts such as noise, vibration and air quality issues, as well as public safety and security issues.
“We’re very pleased that Councilmember Koretz retracted his support of a temporary helipad permit, and that the Sofitel hotel is not pursuing [one anymore],” Meister said. “I think it’s obvious that the surrounding residents and school would be severely impacted by such a permit and given the number of emergency helipads all over the Los Angeles area, allowing this type of [helipad] permit would set a dangerous precedent.”
Assemblymember Mike Feuer, 42nd District, and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, last Friday authored a joint letter to Cindy McKim, director of the California Department of Transportation, voicing their opposition to the Sofitel hotel requesting non-emergency helicopter flight privileges.
“The residents around the hotel already willingly deal with helicopter traffic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and at the West Hollywood’s Sheriff’s station, which serve public health and safety,” Feuer and Yaroslavsky stated. “The addition of yet another helipad in close proximity to the others, while providing a luxury for a few people, will impact many residents in over 1,000 homes in the area. Moreover, allowing the private use of helipads that were originally built to provide emergency access would threaten to create a precedent for such a use throughout highly populated areas.”
Since the 1970s, all buildings in the City of Los Angeles over 75 feet tall have been required to have emergency helicopter landing pads. It was reported, that the Sofitel hotel had wanted to explore the possibility of providing an additional exclusive luxury amenity for its guests. Calls to Sofitel hotel seeking comment were not returned.
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