.

City Council Says Go Ahead with Robo-Garage

The City Council gives the OK to proceed with plans to build an automated parking garage behind City Hall despite uncertainty over whether City Hall will stay in that location. The Council says the mid-city area needs the parking.

The West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to proceed with the at its Monday night meeting, despite also planning to do a .

The robo-garage, which the City Council first unanimously voted to build at its , will offer a valet-like experience where people leave their cars and the automated system stores the vehicles in parking berths using motorized lifts, conveyers and shuttles.

The 5-story garage will incorporate state-of-the-art computerized technology from Unitronics, an Israeli firm specializing in automated parking structures. It will have space for 200 cars, up from the 68 that are currently available in the City Hall surface parking lot.

There had been some question in the public’s mind whether the Council should approve this garage until it was sure whether City Hall would stay in its current location at 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard.

In June, during the city budget discussion for 2012-2013, news emerged of a to move City Hall a mile west to the southeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard, where the sheriff’s station currently stands. The plan would be to build a combination City Hall and sheriff’s station there, plus other retail shops.

Councilmember John Duran said that regardless of whether City Hall moves or not, the garage should be built to alleviate chronic parking shortages in the mid-city area. Duran said that mid-city businesses like O-Bar, which closed in July 2011, have a hard time surviving because of the parking problems.

Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land said the garage was clearly needed “if we’re going to continue to get economic development along Santa Monica Boulevard.”

Mayor Jeff Prang agreed, calling it an “important investment if we want our neighborhood businesses to survive.”

During public comment, one speaker suggested that regardless of whether the automated garage is built, the city should buy one of the two gas stations on Santa Monica Boulevard between Crescent Heights Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue and build a parking garage there since that part of town is in such desperate need of parking.

Retaining ownership

Even if City Hall moves (a proposal that would be five or more years away) and the city sells the current City Hall building, City Manager Paul Arevalo recommended retaining ownership of the parking garage.

“It’s like water rights,” Arevalo said. “We should retain the garage.”

Councilmember John Heilman said the garage would be an asset that would only add value to the current City Hall building if it was sold.

Rather than selling City Hall, Duran suggested that the city could lease spaces in the building to non-profits who have been displaced from the city due to high rents for commercial spaces. “There’s nothing wrong with us becoming landlords,” Duran said.

Technology

There were questions whether the technology for the automated garage would actually work as promised.

Councilmember John D’Amico’s day job is at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica which recently opened the only other automated parking garage west of the Mississippi River.

D’Amico reported that garage has does not operate properly and has been closed the majority of the time since opening. D’Amico said that automated garage was piecemealed together using four different systems.

Public Works Director Oscar Delgado said that an automated garage in Hoboken, NJ also had similar problems until Untronics came in and installed its  technology.

Funding

There was also some question whether the city actually has the $16 million to pay for the garage after the state of California seized redevelopment funds from cities across the state to pay for the state’s budget crisis.

Arevalo said the $16 million would come out of the General Fund reserves and the rest would be made up through bonds.

joninla July 21, 2012 at 10:33 PM
I am 100% on board with you Stephanie! It is about the City's need to create a specific number of "new" parking spaces, and then using the newly implemented 'parking credits program' (not coincidental in timing) the City will give the credit for those new spots to satisfy the requirements of the Private Developers of the La Brea giant Mixed Use projects (already underway so the city is not going to budge on the BS about the robo-garage and justification). The net result for the city will be 67 (i think) parking spots LOST when the new 200 space robo garage is broken/stuck/not-working, and the existing City Hall parking lot is gone. Where will people park then? ... . . . . WHY??? . . . Why would the city waste so much ($16 Million Dollars) on this robo-garage? BECAUSE IT'S NOT THEIR MONEY, IT'S THE CITY'S (i.e. the residents and small business owners who pay their taxes for legitimate City Expenditures - Not for the profit of Private Developers who are friends (or 'financial friends') with certain City Council Member and City Managers.
joninla July 21, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Done! Thanks Shawn for taking action. I don't know if it will do any good, but it will hopefully get the information out to enough people to see if they too agree with what seems so unquestionably bad for the City.
joninla July 21, 2012 at 10:41 PM
oh, and the reason for not building the Community Meeting room is that the uninformed City Council thought up the idea without knowing anything about the actual construction process. The 'technology' required for building the Garage does not have the ability to support anything built on top of the Garage (which is really more a giant machine with 4 huge car elevators, mechanics to move cars and a separate Electric Generator and a Back up Electric Generator to run this Machine.
Stephanie July 21, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Funny you should mention, jon. I asked that question at A Public Facilities meeting once. Where are is the Community Service Center? said I. This structure will not hold rooms, said they. Well, then why didn't we build a regular parking structure like Weho Park, where there is an entire library on top? Seems like a plan! How much s_ _ _ can a bull _ _ _ _, s_ _ _, if a bull_ _ _ _ could _ _ _ _ bull?
Stephanie July 21, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Apologies for my last comment!
joninla July 21, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Here's one more very good reason to stop the supposedly 'green' building project, with two Diesel Powered Generators to power the elevators and sliding mechanism. From "science news" "In Utero Exposure to Diesel Exhaust a Possible Risk Factor for Obesity" http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120719132945.htm
Geoffrey Buck July 24, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Back up generators are ALWAYS very loud and produce a lot of dangerous and poisonous fumes. I am sure many of us have seen them in action. Agreeing with Stephanie, where were the people who live on Sweetzer? Were they not informed?
Shawn Thompson July 31, 2012 at 02:20 PM
https://www.change.org/petitions/west-hollywood-city-council-members-stop-the-current-plan-to-build-an-electric-automated-garage-at-city-hall
Shawn Thompson July 31, 2012 at 02:21 PM
https://www.change.org/petitions/west-hollywood-city-council-members-stop-the-current-plan-to-build-an-electric-automated-garage-at-city-hall
Chloe Ross September 02, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Litigations loom.
joninla September 02, 2012 at 09:27 PM
@chloe Is there any update on the Robo-Disaster?
Chloe Ross September 02, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Not of which I am aware - but don't you imagine people who have paid top dollar to live in that neck of the city will be furious and object to the noise and aggro and digging and fumes and hollering and coming and going and and don't you think at least a couple may know lawyers and if it were you wouldn't you be raring to go?
Stephanie September 02, 2012 at 11:41 PM
I am happy to see this surface again. I still want to know how and when this robo garage project changed from the West Hollywood City Hall Community Service Center and parking? Even with the very few people who attend the commission meetings, the last one I went to, a few of us were actually sitting in the hallway looking in. Sometimes it seems as if with the time slots and lack of space, the City does NOT encourage public participation. Which working seniors can go to the Senior Advisory Board meetings at 2:00pm on a Weds.? Which full time workers can get off work and make it to the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission in City Hall at 5:00pm? It should be all about input from the community, but it is not. I do blame the residents on Sweetzer for not going to the Public Facilites Commission Meetings, the Planning Commission Meetings and the City Council meetings and speaking out loudly against this project. It is the only way to be heard. It's not too late. Show up and speak out...please.
Chloe Ross September 03, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I don't think at this point they care - what I do think would be extraordinary would be to sue them. And I mean for real. Sure they have a lawyer and they have all the data they think is right - but an injunction - to protect birds, trees, elederly, air quality in that specific area would be even better. Among us I know we have attorneys - willing or not - but there is also pro bono and there are also class actions and there are also agencies that can be called in to address each and every little concerns. Restaurants that will lose biz, biz that will lose biz and for what - the CC doesn't even go to CH anyway - they show up fromt ime ot time but they don't clock in. Ergo they will not even need parking. Don't oyu think it's about time 6 snarky people gottheir way. Ask Allegra how she feels because she is the expert. or Jerome Nash.
Chloe Ross September 03, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Typos and all.
joninla September 04, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Looks like a short lived 'happiness' .... It appears as of Monday, Sept 3 (Labor Day) the Pep work has begun and the robo-garage construction (and tree removal) IS BEGINNING!! Check it out for yourselves (and see how really nice the pine tree being removed really is) or see the photos above I took yesterday. sorry Stephanie. I may be more disgusted than you on this one.
Cathy September 04, 2012 at 02:57 PM
@joninla, I am ot 100% sure but I think all that is happening at CH right now is that they are painting....at least that is what was going on a week or so ago.....I hope they are not starting the robo because to me it is still unclear as to whether or not they have the $$$$!
Shawn Thompson September 05, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Sign the petition to oppose it if you want to send the council a msg that your not in support of this spending spree! https://www.change.org/petitions/west-hollywood-city-council-members-stop-the-current-plan-to-build-an-electric-automated-garage-at-city-hall
Stephanie September 07, 2012 at 06:59 PM
From the article..."Arevalo said the $16 million would come out of the General Fund reserves and the rest would be made up through bonds." This is interesting that bonds would be mentioned. If the plan calls for $16 MILLION then why would we need to indebt the City by issuing more bonds and how much more would it be? Does anyone know? How do we find out what the actual amounts are and how much money is coming from where? Mr. Arevalo was asked at a recent Council Meeting how it was being paid for and his answer was anything but definitive. Follow the money. At the Oversight Board meeting in re: the now defunct Redevelopment Agency monies, the staff report stated that the Plummer Park plan was being paid for "completely" by the bonds, however the bonds are 27 Million (as near as I can tell) and the plan called for 41.3 million. So, Mr. Arevalo, from whence is the other $14 million bucks coming? And Phase II of the Weho Park project is reportedly in neighborhood of $7 Million...how are we going to pay for this and for how long? (That 70 Million is on top of the close to 80 million that has already been shelled out for Phase I) Will our children and great-grandchildren still be paying for all this unnecessary grandeur and overbuilding? Someone explain it to me, please
Rudolf Martin September 07, 2012 at 10:56 PM
so many questions about the funding. i would add the question about projected costs of maintenance and insurance for the robo garage. i assume that those will be substantial and i have not yet found an estimate anywhere.
Rudolf Martin September 07, 2012 at 11:22 PM
regarding operating and maintenance costs: In the case of the Hoboken structure, Unitronics (an Israeli company) offered the city several levels of quality at different price levels: $9500 per month per "on-site operations person" (8hrs a day, 5 days a week, so you would need AT LEAST 2) On top of that several “on call” emergency repairs options (1 hour, 5 hour, and 24 hour response times) at $24,500, $23,500 and $4100 per month respectively. So to have the reasonable 1 hour response support with a minimum of 2 operators on different shifts would cost $43,500 per month. The planned WeHo prices might be different though. The City should release the detailed operating costs so that people know exactly what we're paying for and how much it will cost in perpetuity. Here is a link to the PDF that I'm referring to: http://cdn.hoboken411.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/unitronicsresponse-section-1.pdf
Rudolf Martin September 08, 2012 at 01:41 AM
applying the math to my conservative estimate above, the cost for robo parking at city hall including the first 10 years of operation and maintenance ($ 5.22 million, we do want it to work, don't we?) will be $ 21.22 million (not including 'debt service' on the bonds nor routine cost overruns i would expect). cost per parking space after 10 years: $ 106,100.00 cost per added space after 10 years: $ 160,757.57 somebody please tell me I'm wrong. from the Patch article in may 2011: "The city toyed with the idea of the automated parking system when it first started discussing the parking problem at City Hall four years ago, but the cost at that time was prohibitive—$40,000 to $50,000 per parking space. However, the price has come down drastically in the past year, making it a viable option at $13,200 per space. (...) The total amount allotted for the structure, technology, motor court and community plaza area is $13 million. A capital campaign will pay for it." - the calculation for the costs that the city found 'prohibitive' apparently applies to the technology only ($ 2.6 million). not the actual structure! interesting! - a 'capital campaign' will pay for it? you mean: not us ?? cool! - how did this go up by $ 3 million so fast? the 'capital campaign' might not like that! no matter how you want to slice it, it is the residents and businesses of west hollywood that will pay for this project. i bet that most of them have no idea.
Rudolf Martin September 17, 2012 at 06:52 AM
city government officials in new jersey selling city support of a developer’s proposed parking lot for a measly $ 119.000.00! this could never happen in west hollywood! fantastic read: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-trenton-mayor-tony-mack-bond-20120910,0,3842246.story?track=rss
Riley September 17, 2012 at 09:41 PM
I wonder how much was to be spent on the parking lot. Anythiong in the neighborhood of $16 million?
joninla September 17, 2012 at 10:16 PM
SEPTEMBER 17, 2012 I HAVE FOUND MORE AND MORE REASONS TO NO BUILD THIS PROJECT. THE CITY WILL BE INDEBTED FOR SO LONG AND THE ONLY PERSON TO BENEFIT ARE THE PRIVATE DEVELOPERS WHO WILL USE THE NEW CITY 'PARKING CREDITS PROGRAM' TO SUPPLY THE 'NEW PARKING SPACES CREATED' THAT THEY PROMISED IN EXCHANGE FOR INCREASES IN THE ZONING HEIGHT AND SIZE LIMITS FOR THE 2 LA BREA MIX-USE DEVELOPMENTS. THE CITY IS PAYING AND PROVIDING THE LAND AT NO COST TO SATISFY THE PRIVATE DEVELOPERS SIGNIFICANT OBLIGATION THEY OWE DUE TO THEIR DECISION TO 'STACK INCENTIVES' IN EXCHANGE FOR ZONING INCREASES. THUS THE PRIVATE DEVELOPERS WHO HAVE PAID OFF THE CITY (NOT ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THE $16 MILLION AND NOT TO THE CITY COFFERS) AND WILL NOW REAP NOT ONLY THE MUCH GREATER PROFITS THE 'INCENTIVE PROGRAM' ALLOWS MIXED USE DEVELOPERS, BUT ENORMOUSLY OVER THE TOP PROFITS BY NOT HAVING TO BUILD THE PARKING REQUIRED AND HAVING MORE FULL VALUE UNITS FOR RENT/SALE (No low income housing units on site of the the new mixed used high end projects - the bogus West Hollywood Housing Authority is paying for the private developers obligation for that other incentive they took advantage of.)
joninla September 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Taking the commercial lot across the street (with Hollaway Cleaners) it is clear that the proper approach to deal with a shortage of parking (which there is not at city hall, but assuming there were) is to hire AS NEEDED a private 'parking valet service' to come and assist with parking as needed. If there actually is a shortage, they bonded licensed car valets can double or triple park cars behind each other at a virtually nominal cost compared to the permanent investment in a major project that will cost a fortune to run AFTER and ON TOP of the $16 Million Price tag.
Riley September 17, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Check this out: http://www.wehoconfidential.com/2012/09/city-council-aims-to-increase-parking.html I love when the City leaders tell us that they are paying for their extravagant projects with "bonds" as if we, the citizens are not ultimately the ones who are paying for it. How many parking meters and tickets for unpaid parking meters will it take to pay for the $16 million (+ the 2 million for design) robo garage? Umpty-gazillion...that's how many and we will be the ones paying.
Stephanie September 18, 2012 at 12:33 AM
@Riley: You are right on the money...pun intended. Another major point or two about this robo garage that WE, the People, will be paying for, are these: 1) When and where was the PUBLIC INPUT for this exorbitantly expensive project when it changed from a well documented 25th Anniversary Capital Project entitled "The West Hollywood Community Service Center" ??? Where are our desperately needed community rooms in the plan for the 16 MILLION DOLLAR robo garage? No where to be found and it seems the community was not included in the input process when the project dropped the West Hollywood Community Service Center and became the Automated Parking Structure. Ask questions. We deserve answers, we really do.
joninla September 18, 2012 at 10:12 AM
Why did D'Amico, our resident expert on the failings of the most recent Los Angeles area Robo-Garage vote for this boondoggle? I really thought he had the best interests of the City and the Residents as his goal in making decisions. What explanation can he give for voting for this outrageous expenditure for a known faulty system? Just going along with the other council members? Mr. D'Amico had lost my previous complements for at least trying to change this city for the better.
joninla September 18, 2012 at 10:21 AM
I am glad the 'feasibility study' was referenced in this one article. If the City Council is going to vote their way, what can be done. Not much. But if the City Council members are actively or participating in an illegal scheme to pay off special interests with City Assets, that would be a criminal conversion of City Assets and/or part of a conspiracy to commit such a theft of over $200,000 of City Funds. SPECIFICALLY - there is no physical way of putting the city hall and Sheriff's Department on the one County Owned Lot where the outdated Sheriff's station is. The Sheriff's Station Lot size is just barely larger than the existing city hall lot (including parking). If both City Hall and The Sheriff needs to expand, they can't do it on a lot that is not big enough for City Hall on its own, let alone Both. The feasibility study clearly is a fraudulent scheme to pay someone $200,000 under the guise of a bogus 'study' which everyone should check google maps and city maps, to see the Sheriff's lot is very small and not as large as it would appear. The majority is the bus depot and the PDC. The delay in the robo garage was not taken into account apparently when they tried to slip a $200,000 plus item through the Council. We can't vote them out, but they can be removed for illegal appropriation of City Funds/Assets.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something