Could not authenticate you.followers
In front of council chambers at near capacity, the West Hollywood City Council on Monday denied an appeal and approved a plan for new condominiums on Kings Road.
Neighbors took turns commending and condemning the plans for a 58,930-square-foot, 30-unit condominium building at 1028-1030 N. Kings Road with 58 parking spaces.
The appeal asked that the city council reject the planning commission’s recommendation to approve the project in which developers will demolish two single-family homes to build the structure.
“In a city as geographically small as West Hollywood, how much more growth can a city sustain and remain livable?” the appellant Tony Arn asked in the appeal.
A neighborhood group, United Neighbors for Responsible Development (UNReD), supports the appeal and said the block between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue is already too dense, and the development – with three others planned within three blocks – will make things worse for residents. The project will “further exacerbate an already desperate shortage of street parking,” according to the appeal.
City staff said the developments have been reviewed, and it was determined the four projects on Kings Road are too small for traffic studies. Staff does not believe that the appeal, filed after the planning commission approved the project in July, provided new evidence or documentation of errors or identified unsupported findings that would justify overturning the planning commission’s action.
“Therefore, staff recommends that the city council deny the appeal and approve the project,” the report read.
Council members cautioned attendees when some of the public comments became “harsh” as both sides argued about cumulative impact of the four developments, the project’s scale and the proper disbursement of affordable housing.
Supporters of the project advocated for the immediate need for the five affordable housing units.
“If not here, then where?” one resident asked.
“Traffic and parking problems are part of living in a densely populated city,” another project supporter said.
Those in favor of the appeal said the project is “totally out of character.” They called for further environmental reviews of traffic and parking.
“Kings Road has become a freeway,” one resident said.
Kings Road resident Bruce Smith said service trucks already double-park on the road.
Supporters of the appeal said five affordable units are not enough to make a difference in the housing crisis.
According to city zoning laws for the project, 20 percent of the units must be provided as affordable housing. The applicant has proposed two “very low” income units and three “moderate income” units.
Arn and supporters of the appeal proposed that the project be reduced in size to 22 units, and they all be designated as affordable.
Council members explained that the project already meets city zoning requirements and that the city cannot require developers provide more affordable units.
Councilman John Duran explained that the city is subject to general marketplace rules of supply and demand, and that council doesn’t have the authority to require the project provide 100 percent affordable units because the city does not own the property.
In addressing concerns about effects on the character of Kings Road, Duran said the project was compatible with the street when he described it as a “corridor of condominiums.”
“If this project is too big or out of scale, then a lot of buildings on Kings Road would have to be torn down,” Councilman John Heilman said.
Duran asked staff to consider the construction schedules for the four projects on Kings Road happening at the same time, and said he wants to hear more about cumulative traffic effects.
Councilman John D’Amico agreed that if all four projects were combined into one, it would have required more environmental review, but he said an appeal is not the best way to address the concerns. He suggested the city study Kings Road as a whole.
Mayor Lindsey Horvath said even if five affordable units do not sound like much, they are worth building because of what it will mean for the people who will live in them.
“I believe that there are people who deserve to live here and live in our community who can’t afford to live here yet,” she said.
Heilman made a motion that city council deny the appeal but to also direct staff to modify the resolution and bring it back at another meeting for deliberations. The motion directs staff to address the environmental sustainability of the building. It also asked staff to add more fully developed landscaping plans for the project.
Separately, the council directed staff to address existing problems on the street regarding the sewer system, traffic and parking issues, and create a construction mitigation plan that applies to all projects in the area.
Cynthia Blatt, founder of UNReD, said it was a “tremendous step forward” that city council recognized the need for cumulative studies of Kings Road and construction, and conceded that city code left council members no other choice but to approve the project.
“That’s not a consideration that has been made before,” she said. “We accomplished a change in the way council is treating us and taking our arguments. This wasn’t just good for Kings Road, but for the whole city as far as how development and appeals are handled.”
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Leave a Reply