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City Council Approves El Mirador Agreement

The owner of the historic apartment building can rehabilitate the landmark building and convert it to an urban inn or condominiums.

The West Hollywood City Council gave the go-ahead for rehabilitating the historic El Mirador apartment building and converting it to either an urban inn or condominiums at its Monday night meeting. That approval came despite the owner of the building publicly chastising the Council for the five-year process that had led to that point. 

, but city staff brought the proposal back with new options for what to do with the 7-story, 32-unit Spanish Colonial Revival building constructed in 1929.

Following that July 2 meeting, Jerome Nash, who bought the building in 2002, told Weho Patch he intended to on the northeast corner of Fountain and Sweetzer avenues.

Councilmember John Duran said he didn’t want to see El Mirador meet the wrecking ball, calling it “one of the landmarks that define the city.”

Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land said the building deserved to be preserved but didn’t think the development agreement for El Mirador was in the best interest of the city or the community. She wanted to wait until the city could come up with a comprehensive plan for rehabilitating the many aging apartment buildings in the city.

Councilmember John D’Amico said he didn’t know what the right answer was, but didn’t want to see the building torn down. He said he was willing to approve either the urban inn or condo option if it would preserve the building, calling it a chance for the Council to “make a mistake or do something great.”

Mayor Jeff Prang said he had agonized over the decision more than any other. He said that there was no good decision, but felt it would be a “tragedy” if the building was demolished. He said as long as the development agreement was structured so as not to create a precedent, he was willing to support the agreement.

The Council voted 3-1 to approve the agreement. Land voted against it. Councilmember John Heilman, who is traveling in Europe, was absent.  

Nash and City Attorney Mike Jenkins will now work out the specifics of the urban inn or condominium plan (or some combination of the two) and bring it back to the Council for final approval.

However, Nash told Weho Patch he was bothered that city staff had not sent him a copy of the proposal the Council was considering, that he hadn’t seen it until Monday morning.

“Obviously they are making a statement that they want to keep the building,” Nash told Patch after the Council’s decision. “But none of the staff options were discussed with me beforehand. That’s outrageous.”

During the meeting, Jenkins publicly apologized to Nash for the oversight.

Nash Gets His Chance to Speak

Prior to the Council approving the plan, Nash was given 10 minutes to speak. He used that time to air his frustrations about the five-year process he had endured trying to get the building rehabilitated.

In 2007, the glass fell out of a fourth floor window of El Mirador. The city’s Code Compliance Department cited Nash, telling him to fix the window, while the Rent Stabilization Commission gave the tenants a rent reduction.

Because the city designated the building a “cultural resource” in 1992, the Historic Preservation Commission had to approve any replacement windows. However, the Commission did not approve that request, saying it did not have guidelines about the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s standards for historic windows. 

After attempting to negotiate some kind of agreement to get the building rehabilitated without success, Nash used the Ellis Act to evict the tenants and leave the rental business in Sept. 2010. The building has been vacant since that time.

Nash blasted the Council and the city for letting this situation escalate to the point where he felt forced to Ellis the building, a move about which he said he gave the city plenty of advance notice.

“You have done this building in,” Nash said. “I’m a property owner that wants to provide habitable conditions for tenants . . . blood is on your hands for Ellising properties.”

Prang acknowledged duirng his comments later that the city had made mistakes throughout the process, saying the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing.

Nash criticized Land, saying he had made many calls to her office over the years trying to work out the situation, none returned until a few months ago.

“This building and the destruction of the building is on your neck,” Nash said to Land.

Land responded in her comments that she had not returned the phone calls because Nash had threatened a lawsuit against the city.  

Nash said Land also had spoken badly of him for Ellising the building, something he considered hypocritical since the city had used the Ellis Act to evict the tenants at Tara (1343 Laurel Avenue; a home donated to the city by its late owner).

Land said she had never attempted to hide the fact she didn’t like him Ellising the building, that she’s unhappy whenever a building is Ellised. She also acknowledged that the city had Ellised the tenants at Tara.

Nash also criticized Heilman, saying he had made almost 30 phone calls to him over the years trying to work on the situation, none of them were returned until after he had Ellised the building. Yet even when he and Heilman had a face-to-face meeting, Nash said they couldn’t come to terms.

Nash, who owns six other buildings in West Hollywood, said he would promise never to Ellis another building if Heilman would resign from the City Council.

“If he wants to show his true advocacy for tenants’ rights, Heilman step down. I will never ever do it again,” Nash said. 

As he was absent, Heilman could not respond to the charges.

Chloe Ross August 07, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Jerome Nash did what I suspect many have fantasized - calling out the city on their capricious behavior. I am aware that Mr.Nash has a long and checkered reputation in the real estate business to his credit and/or his detriment. But the windows in the EL M that were failing were not the original windows. I think the city could have worked more professionally and civilly with Mr. Nash. To be placed in a Catch 22 position by the municipal government leaves one with very few viable choices. Ellis was the one he chose. And then he really became the Landlord from Hell. A epithet, in this case, that was thrust upon him, not chosen. How much has it cost the city , the tenants and the "applicant" as they like to call him in human misery, nasty rumors, slander, libel, innuendo and bullying to finally find a solution? Mr. Nash did what he did last night because it was time to do it and time was about up. The sudden, preservationist concerns of the city seem to me a day late and a zillion dollars short. (And sotto voce - do they have these same warm and fuzzy feelings about Plummer Park?) Mr. Nash was bullied. But unlike other recipients of this behavior - he had the means and the right to stand pat and did not waiver from his position. I am not sure if he won anything last night and I am less sure what he will decide to do with HIS property. But he gained my respect for being a speaker of truth - because what he said had a distinctive and overwhelming ring of truth to it.
90069 August 07, 2012 at 05:25 PM
To be fair, this building is far more dazzling than Plummer Park or the Fickett Library. That isn't to say that older buildings should only be preserved if they are very attractive but this is certainly the case. Mr. Nash took the building as a hostage. But that City finally made the right call because Nash I'm sure would have pulled the trigger sooner than later out of spite and indifference.
George Reese August 07, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Amazing how money talks in this situation. Nash obviously has the financial resources to play "hardball" with the City Council and he won! I honestly don't think he REALLY wanted to tear down that building but his threats to do so obviously worked with the council. It's nice to see someone actual WIN in a situation like this. The City Council often pays no attention to what the residents of West Hollywood think so it is nice to see someone who has the power to take them on WIN. He was portrayed as a monster and now he has given his side of the story. It's too bad he had to resort to evicting the tenants but in a situation like this, he had no choice. I'm glad he had his chance to speak to the council and vent. They deserved it.
George Martin August 07, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Not their finest hour. I found their concern about "creating a precedent" especially amusing considering they grant variances to the well-connected they personally favor ALL THE TIME. No matter Mr. Nash's reputation, it's hard to find fault with anything he's done in this situation.
RTL August 07, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Thank goodness this building was saved! Pure nonsense to get to that point, but nevertheless, the building is saved and an urban inn or condo is welcomed!
scott ferguson August 07, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows, no? I did gain new respect for Abbe Land's response last night. She did not respond in kind, but gave what seemed to be a very reasonable response to her distance from Nash - when one is dealing with a litigious party known to sue and hire high-powered attorneys, it makes sense either on her own instinct and/or on the advice of city counsel she stepped back.
Chloe Ross August 07, 2012 at 10:01 PM
She was evasive wasn't she?
scott ferguson August 07, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Among other things, it wasn't remotely the forum for her to respond in kind to him. The main point he made against her was that he'd heard she "hates" him. I would think less of any member who did anything but ignore such a comment. So no, I don't think evasive is the right word.
me August 07, 2012 at 11:57 PM
this has been going on for so long that i've forgotten why he didn't install the windows they wanted him to put in the first place....the cost was too high?....if so, seems like it has cost him so much more in the end (yes, i mean that "end")
joninla August 08, 2012 at 04:36 AM
I agree with your comment and think whatever true or untrue reputation Mr. Nash has that have been the most scathing I've ever seen, the City's actions over Mr. Nash's property rights which led to this vote, and how the votes were cast, makes Mr. Nash clearly in the right and demonstrates that the City's Delay for all these years was about nothing other that punishing Mr. Nash for taking totally legal actions with HIS PROPERTY, but which apparently the City Council Members did not like and misuse their elected office and power to punish Mr. Nash for not using his property the way the city wanted to. If the City wants to decide how a rental property is used/run/maintained ... Then the needs to purchase a rental property, which will automatically give them the desired autocratic power to decide how to use the property. It would have been cheaper than the repeated legal actions (and the legal fees the city has freely blown out the window) the City files when they don't get people who have free will and happen to own property but don't do 'what they are told' causing a temper tantrum by a Council with virtually unlimited funds to waste on misusing the legal system to deprive Property Rights of Land Owners. The City repeatedly mentioned "setting precedent" as the basis of this improper delay. We all should worry the Precedent Set is one that our City does not respect property rights and who knows who will be the next victim of their abuse of power.
joninla August 08, 2012 at 04:50 AM
As a savant of Nothing, and an overextended and overpaid head of a non-profit, the sole vote by Ms. Land is so clearly based on her own personal feelings and neither the law nor what is best for the City was the basis of a formal vote as the Elected Representative for the City and the Residents who live in the City. SHE WAS FRIGHTENED BECAUSE HE THREATENED LITIGATION???? What was upsetting about that? Perhaps that he did it FIRST before the City Could misuse the system and not just threaten, but actually bring suit ... all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary .... as they did with TARA with an investment of over $800,000 just for the Legal Fees the City incurred to have the Court give a harsh SLAP IN THE FACE of the City in not just ruling against them, but explaining the city was acting improperly but following the minimal legal requirements of notice, while knowing that in fact there wasn't adequate notice being given to people who would and did want notice and to be heard before the City set out to destroy and take City Owned Property (tara) and sweetheart deal give it to the developers who have millions of dollars to ready willing and eager to spend to influence such bad actions by our city leaders. Scary Mr. Nash frightening Councilwoman Land by threatening a law suit! How scary Abbe, had he done it, it's no harm to you. He was trying to explain a business decision and Abbe 'got scared'. I am disgusted by this vote and what it meas about LAND!
Todd Bianco August 08, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I didn't attend the meeting, but I watched it on TV and was in rapt attention with Mr. Nash's detailed tirade against the City Council, City Attorney, Commissioners and Staff - all called out by name. It was very convenient that John Heilman was on his usual European summer vacation as I would have been delighted to see and hear his response. I would have paid money to see the camera focus on his face during Mr. Nash's comments - particularly when he promised not to Ellis another building in the City if John resigned. Ouch. I don't know why I enjoyed the vitriol so much, but maybe it was the first time in a recent memory that a single property owner had the money, righteous indignation and temerity to stand up to the City Council, call them out on the 5 years of b.s. and games AND have the legal and financial power to back up his threats. It also shed light City Hall shenanigans and how it throws its weight around. I think the end result was correct. Let it be either condos or an urban inn and let the market determine if the project fails or succeeds. I still think that condos may work best, but you'd need to reduce the number of units to better match the in-building parking. If someone is going to blow a couple million dollars on a condo they are going to want at least one, and probably two parking spaces. Buyers may like walking or bike-riding, but they will have a car too.
opinion August 08, 2012 at 04:36 PM
As usual, your argument makes absolutely no sense at all. Zero. If Land was so scared about avoiding litigation, she would have voted to let Nash have his way. Which is exactly what she didn't do. So answer this simple question: if she was so frightened of a lawsuit, why did she vote against the development agreement? But I'm absolutely amazed that I'm reading so many positive comments about Jerome Nash. Now everyone loves the guy who threw all of the tenants out of his historic building? Sorry, but this is a case where everybody acted badly--Nash, the city commssions, staff, Council. Nobody has clean hands here. Including Nash.
Chloe Ross August 08, 2012 at 05:35 PM
But for the City not approving the new windows (and let's see those windows and more significantly are these the same windows that will be used to rehab the building and if so why are they okay now?) he El Mirador and its tenants would still be there. If Mr. Nash attempted to replace the windows with code approved ones (and I sort of think he did) - and if this building is such a treasure - why wouldn't the City WANT to see that it was restored and maintained and not Ellised. Sorry folks, but I think Mr.Nash did all he could and the City did all it wouldn't and the onus lies with them. Mr. Nash is too rich and too experienced to have shot himself in the foot over this building - I think the smoking gun is with the City.
opinion August 08, 2012 at 06:45 PM
You “sort of think he did” the right thing with his proposed windows? I’m glad we’re not letting a lack of real knowledge get in the way of our comments. “Mr. Nash is too rich and too experienced to have shot himself in the foot over this building”? No, Mr. Nash is rich enough that he can afford to shoot himself in the foot and he’s impulsive enough to do so. In fact, if Nash had gone about it the right way, he would have got his window approvals. He didn’t, and he didn’t. Even in the face of that, though, the City should have figured out a far better way to handle the situation. Instead the City’s left hand didn’t know what its right hand was doing–or didn’t care. So the City acted badly, too, but the City didn’t Ellis the El Mirador--Nash himself did, at a point where there were still better answers than that. So, sorry, but this is a case where absolutely no one did the right thing. No one.
jimmy palmieri August 08, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I think the idea of Heilman stepping down is best. Better than any and all solutions offered and approved. Not returning phone calls and attempting to vilify anyone not in his favor (nod to Allegra) is his MO only now he is being pressured to do what he is voted into doing. SERVE HIS CONSTITUENTS. Not the other way around. Of course he missed this meeting. wouldn't you if you were him?
joninla August 09, 2012 at 04:16 AM
You missed the point. Abbe used the B.S. excuse that she refused to respond to Mr. Nash's attempts discuss possible solutions with the City Council. She was not afraid, she just wanted an excuse to not try to resolve the not-clear reasons why the City Council Keeps rejecting every proposal the owner of the property submitted. You again missed it. THIS TIME THE CITY COUNCIL HAS GONE TOO FAR and people are realizing that assuming the scathing rumors are true about Mr. Nash, he does own the property and has the same property rights that every other property owner has. By going so far out to expose that the City was intentionally misusing their elected role as City Council Members to act as self appointed Judge-Jury-Executioner for the actions Mr. Nash chose to do, has the right to do and pissed off the financially corrupt and deluded from years in office that they own the city personally, and came to the conclusion they would punish him by preventing his legal use of his property for as long as possible. If Mr. Nash is as awful as the rumors are, this is still the United States and if has done something actually illegal, the Judicial Branch of Government ONLY has the power to judge and punish violations of any law. The Executive Branch of our Government (the city council as policy makers only) is PROHIBITED from acting to judge and punish people. Checks & Balances. Sound familiar? Otherwise a democracy becomes a dictatorship ... as we kinda have now in weho.
opinion August 09, 2012 at 05:05 AM
joninla: I'm afraid you have no idea of the facts; you're simply projecting your own paranoia. The City is conspiring to prevent Nash's legal use of the building? Really? First, because the building is a listed landmark, the owner absolutely does NOT have “the same property rights as every other owner”. Second, once he Ellised it, there no longer IS any legal use of the building--at least not before it can revert back to rental. It doesn't meet the current zoning code for any use, and it’s no longer grandfathered. So there’s no current legal use without a zone text amendment or a development agreement, both of which require Council approval. The City proposed a development agreement, and there was a long negotiation to figure out what uses would be acceptable to both Nash and the City. It wasn't just "Nash's proposal." You clearly seem to know none of that. So I’ll say it again; you have no idea what you’re talking about.
joninla August 09, 2012 at 07:33 AM
I don't claim to know the details about the persons and personalities that has caused this clearly historic building to remain in vacant and why replacing non-original windows with new one's that look like the original is grounds for any issue the city must decide upon. As for his property rights, he has the same as all similarly classified 'historic' properties which is arguable more rights than non-historic property since by statute there is the possibility of getting past some of the otherwise fixed zoning and related restrictions. I know nothing about a 'negotiation' the City had but it sounds like if there was a negotiation, the City has nothing to lose and the property owner is being requested to comply with whatever arbitrary rules and restrictions a clearly biased local City Council my feel like imposing. There is nothing more obvious that the WeHo City council does not make planning, building and parking decisions for either the best interests of the City or to be as reasonably cost effective to the large but not unlimited annual budget for the entire city. If the City acted as it says is among its primary goals, to preserve/protect local historic buildings, they would be working to the owners benefit to ensure that the owner is financially motivated to keep and RESTORE historic buildings, not block every attempt while we have seen the building decay for years now.
opinion August 09, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I don't believe any owner of a historic property would agree with your assessment that they have "more rights than non-historic property" owners--just the opposite. You can get some waivers of code regulations, but they're more than offset by the restrictions that historic status imposes. And just out of curiosity, why would the City make planning decisions about private property "to be as reasonably cost effective to the large but not unlimited annual budget for the entire city"? What does that even mean?
WeHo Resident August 09, 2012 at 10:48 PM
This situation brings to light once again the problem of the City of West Hollywood not having term limits. With the exception of John D'Amico, the members of the City Council have served for far too long and made it quite apparent the only people that they are serving are themselves and their cronies, not their constituants. Yes, one can argue that we have open elections and if we want these people out someone else needs to run against them. The problem is they are far too entrenched from being in office too long. As a long term resident of West Hollywood, it is interesting to observe that City Hall has started to resemble a private sandbox rather than the seat of a community government.
Chloe Ross August 10, 2012 at 07:53 PM
He did in fact try to fix the window situation. Only two windows remained from the original building. He had wooden framed windows made to closely conform not only to the spirit and design of the building but would be better for the integrity of the building's leaking and make upkeep less costly and easier. Since the original windows had been replaced many times before Mr. Nash bought the building - the city seems to have singled out this property for whatever reason and would not allow the new windows to be installed. Considering the number of exemptions and exceptions made for other residents and owners - it begs for a real answer as to why WeHo exacted this punitive action on Mr.Nash when they knew he could Ellis the building. I think they didn't imagine he would. He did. Cui bono.
joninla September 04, 2012 at 02:22 PM
SEPTEMBER 2012 - IT'S BACK! Well it is back on the next Agenda. Notice how it was framed .... 1. The cost (loss) to the City of some $900,000 and there will be a recitation of the way the landlord 'Ellised Out the Tenants". Let's not forget ... Mr. Nash made a very credible clarification about the facts. The City Council refused to respond to Mr. Nash until the day after the 'Ellising' was completed. Likewise, let's not forget the City of WeHo attempted to "ELLIS-OUT" the Tenants of TARA, and spent over $900,000 in legal fees for the City alone trying to turn the charitable bequest of the property TO THE CITY over to a 'not for profit' that is a joint venture with the city and the biggest and richest developers in the city. Any 'evil Ellissing' is clearly being done most egregiousness by out own Sitting City Council (i.e. John Heilman, City Manager Paul, Abby's 250k a year vote for anything John tells her and a slew of misinformation about basic facts to the other voting City Council Members (those who even bother to pay attention).

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