Council OKs Orlando Avenue Condo Conversion

City Council had no choice but to approve a request by an Orlando Avenue apartment complex to switch to condominiums. State law says the city cannot compel anyone to remain in the rental business.

West Hollywood City Council gave the go ahead Monday night for an apartment complex on Orlando Avenue to switch to condominiums.

In 2007, the city approved an application to build a three-story, four-unit apartment complex on the northeast corner of Orlando and Rosewood avenues. That building is partially built, but the property owner now wants permission to sell the units as condos.

In February, , disturbed that the owner stated he’d intended to go to condo all along. The approval process for apartment buildings is different and easier than it is for condominiums, thus the owner took the easier route.

The Commission found a loophole in the zoning ordinances to justify the denial. In 2007, the property was zoned for three stories, but since the adoption of the city’s new General Plan, the lot is now only zoned for two stories. The Commission rejected it saying the project’s construction permits for a three-story building would not be good on a lot zoned for two stories.

The City Council thought poorly of the Planning Commission’s loophole.

State law prevents the city from compelling anyone to be in the rental business, thus the Council had no choice but to approve the request to subdivide the lot for sale as condominiums.

Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land pointed out that the city would not be loosing affordable units by this condo conversion. These are new units which would not be subject to rent control ordinances even if they were to remain apartments, Land said.  

The council approved the request 4-0. Councilmember John Duran was not present at the meeting as he is participating in the AIDS LifeCycle bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

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Ali June 08, 2012 at 06:22 AM
If the Council really cared about "affordable housing", the Rent Stabilization Board wouldn't be on the chopping block in the upcoming budget. Without the Board, those of us in Rent Controlled units have no recourse against abusive landlords who won't perform maintenance and other violations of the City's laws.
joninla June 08, 2012 at 09:19 AM
The actual events/story is not quite as the article depicts. This small project did everything properly, and did not try to deceive the city or anyone else about starting with an application for an apartment (4 units on a parcel that was a single family residents and couldn't build anything larger than 4 units). As the City Attorney explained, developers of this size property in weho have 2 perfectly legal choices. To apply for a condo and then have the Planning Commission make their decisions about everything, including the exterior finishings/look. Or else choose not to have the proven 'bad design by a group vote' City Planning Commission cause endless problems, and properly file for a new apartment then file to change it to condo later. There was no 'loophole' found AND MR. HEILMAN! ... Do you really not know that Re-Zoning a property which is already improved/developed can NOT BE RETROACTIVELY APPLIED? As for 3 vs 2 stories - go see for yourselves. It is still not as tall as the older apartment building right next door. It makes the transition on that street from house to apartment look a lot more fluid. Remember the just approved San Vicente condo project? Most people strongly agree the forced revisions to the initial design looks MUCH WORSE than the original design the Planning Commission 'deemed' not fitting with the style of that block.
joninla June 08, 2012 at 09:27 AM
I understand your concerns - but from all the stories I've heard, in practice, the "Rent Sabilization Board" was all talk, but when people had real and serious problems with their landlords, they didn't even try to help and many were evicted without the Rent Board assisting or caring one bit. But you did say if the City Council "really cared" about "affordable housing" - They clearly talk all about it (especially "real estate expert" Abbe Land ...... NOT!) but their actions hopefully have shown to enough people the reality of the Promise Made to renters in WeHo. The sudden non-formal-announcement of the Rent Stabilization Board not being part of the next budget really makes me wonder wuz-up with that quick, unnoticed and decisive done-deal decision? Whenever the City Acts with swiftness before even letting people know in advance, it just means the City's years of getting away with so much still works.


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