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El Mirador Agreement Denied by Planning Commission

A proposed development agreement to rehabilitate the historic 83-year-old El Mirador apartment building was recommended for denial by the Planning Commission, although the City Council has the final say.

Efforts to rehabilitate the historic El Mirador apartment building were upset Thursday night when the West Hollywood Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of its rehab plan.

Built in 1929, the 7-story, 32-unit Spanish Colonial Revival building that sits on the northeast corner of Fountain Avenue and Sweetzer Avenue has been vacant for the past two years.

Jerome Nash, who bought the deteriorating building in 2002, tried for four years to do renovations, but said he was continually thwarted by various city regulations and commissions. Frustrated, Nash evicted all the tenants under the Ellis Act and went out of the rental business in fall 2010.

Since the city doesn’t want to see El Mirador deteriorate further while its sits empty, the city and Nash worked out a development agreement to rehabilitate the building which was designated as a “cultural resource” in 1992.

Once restored, Nash proposes to reopen El Mirador as either an urban inn or as condominiums. Planning Commission heard the project in order to make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say on the development agreement under which the city would waive many fees.

Condo option

The commissioners were unhappy with condominium option. City zoning ordinances would require 63 parking spaces. However, El Mirador only has 24 spaces in its garage.

Commissioners felt they could not recommend the project when it lacked 60 percent of the required parking, noting that the surrounding streets were already too crowded to accommodate the extra cars parking on the road. 

Commissioner John Altschul said the project didn’t seem viable as condominiums because of the parking. Several other commissioners echoed those sentiments, noting condos would be hard to sell without proper parking.

Urban Inn option

If El Mirador were to become an urban inn (similar to the San Vicente Inn), parking would not be a problem since zoning ordinances only call for 16 spaces.

However, the commissioners said the building does not meet the main criteria for an urban inn which has a maximum height of two stories and at least 10 percent communal space so guests can interact easily.

Commissioners felt approving it as an urban inn or as condominiums would set a dangerous precedent, noting that many other historic apartment buildings might want the same deal.

Commission Chair Alan Bernstein noted the many aging properties needed rehabilitation, saying the city needs to develop a policy for dealing with such properties rather than addressing it on a case-by-case basis.

Altschul said the building should be rehabilitated, but couldn’t support either option. He felt the project should go back to the drawing boards to look for a better solution. “There is an answer that hasn’t been investigated yet,” Altschul said, also acknowledging that he didn’t know what that answer is.

In the end, the Commission voted 6-0 to recommend the City Council deny the development agreement. Commissioner Marc Yeber recused himself since he lives within 500 feet of El Mirador. 

Paul May 04, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Maybe some kind of museum? It would be a shame to tear it down being so old and all. At the same time that is a heavily trafficked corner. It might make a nice place for something but what? I think it would be neat to turn it into apartment rentals. A lot people don't have cars and rely on public transportation and/or bike ride. I can totally see why it was denied but sure hope the building can be save due to the historic reference to the property.
Truth for the People May 04, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Enough of this with Jerome Nash and his underhanded dealings with West Hollywood and Santa Monica. I was a tenant of El Mirador and was rudely pushed out after 26 years of peacefully and quietly living there. He evicted us thru spite and malice. The building has only been neglected and has become run down due to Jerome and his management team. Before J Nash's underhanded purchase El Mirador Apts the building was maintained and always repairs made. Since JN - we've had numerous bad and uncaring building managers, who's every action was to made it difficult and didn't care about the needs of the tenants. I say bring the building back to apartments as it was built for rentals.
Concerned Resident May 04, 2012 at 04:37 PM
THE WORST LAID PLANS. Mr. Nash took an old apartment building, refused to maintain it the way it had been for years, and then decides to use it for a new use it was never designed or approved for. The use that makes sense is what it always was. Apartments. No changes or reductions in code should be allowed for a developer who has shown no consideration for the city or the old tenants of the building. He bought it as an apartment building that always needs some maintenance. There is no reason to grant him a fantasy of being rewarded for abusing a building and its tenants.
ChangeWEHOgov May 04, 2012 at 05:35 PM
West Hollywood was founded to protect tenants from losing their homes - yet evictions are happening again at Epidemic levels -particularly in the Historical Buildings with rents at all time highs. I am aware of several people who have lost their long time apartments because of the relatively new owners who seem to feel it is their right to provoke, harass & force tenants out of their homes. These people were telling me the awful stories of what happened to them said the City of West Hollywood did ZERO - Absolutely NOTHING. To know the City Staff (under direction of Paul Arevelo) was recommending Approval for the El Mirador conversion & hear a city staff member repeat what the city attorney said - they fear El Mirador being torn town - is shameful.
Brian Hamilton May 04, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Here is more of the back story in an article from the L.A. Weekly, August 11, 2011: http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/08/el_mirador_west_hollywood.php
George Reese May 04, 2012 at 05:42 PM
It's obvious that Nash is a crooked landlord who didn't care and kicked many long term tenants out just for spite because he could. How many landlords in this area are exactly like that? They dont have to fix up their buildings and fight you when you make simple requests. A landlady on Larrabee wouldn't even make laundry room KEYS for the tenants because she was so cheap! Nash should be forced to fix the building by following the city rules and then use it was an apartment building, There is really no other option.
Chloe Ross May 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Jerome Nash has a background that reads like a Leona Helmsley bodice ripper. The very name sends disgust through the minds of tenants everywhere he owns a property. Renting a place from Nash is like moving into the 8th Circle of Hell. I am personally thrilled the Planning Commission put spike strips in his greedy, mean spirited plans for this elegant and historic building. But caveats - he is relentless and very determined. Whatever the plan is - you will need to stoop to a level that is beneath his to create one that works for El Mirador. I would suggest rehousing the evicted tenants to start.
Chloe Ross May 04, 2012 at 07:01 PM
http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-26/news/vw-1120_1_hannah-nash/3 - this is the person with whom we deal. But if you really dig - like one small spoonful - you will find a man of epic greed and a reputation that runs a dead heat with Peter Rachman - look them both up - it's fascinating reading.
Truth for the People May 04, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Check out a recent post in Santa Monica regarding Jerome Nash http://www.smdp.com/Articles-local-news-c-2012-05-01-73945.113116-Rent-control-tenants-sue-landlord-to-stop-alleged-harassment.html and this one on his brother who was a Doctor: http://archive.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/051213/fake.shtml Or this one when he was in a law suit with his mother: http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-26/news/vw-1120_1_hannah-nash
joninla May 04, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Out of curiosity - what is the fair market value of the building and how much would it realistically cost to restore it? How many dollars (in millions) would it cost and for how many units. Then let's compare that cost to the millions of dollars the city is spending to build brand new low income housing that is fill with primarily people from outside weho. Why not house the low income locals and preserve historic buildings AND DO IT FOR LESS THAN WHAT THE CITY SPENDS NOW ON PIECEMEAL 'LOW INCOME UNITS' ALONG WITH MAJOR UNWANTED NEW MEGA DEVELOPMENTS? Not enough parking? Perfect for low income and elderly tenants who usually don't drive or can even afford a car??
joninla May 04, 2012 at 10:37 PM
CORRECT! It is all just words and 'smoke and mirrors' with their claims and stabilization boards to accomplish one thing .... get the votes of those people. Once in office for 25 plus years, those same low income renters are undesirable to the incumbents (despite what they keep saying) and once the weho stabilization charade fails the tenant is is evicted .... We hear, see and can't even argue for change since once evicted, the individual usually disappears into some kind of housing outside weho. Glad you are speaking up. Tell your story so people know. BTW - once evicted the new condo purchasers are now the favored voters to keep the council of 25 plus years in office. They have spent a quarter century making promises, and now can't/won't pay from adequate city budget to do what they have promised.
Chloe Ross May 04, 2012 at 10:37 PM
His nefarious deals go back to his teens. He is a nasty, self-involved man who has a very bad case of Worshipping the Golden Bull.
Brian Hamilton May 07, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Right on. Nash intentionally created this quagmire to retaliate against rules with which he didn't agree. He has demonstrated an obnoxious sense of entitlement and complete lack of consideration for the law, and his tenants.
joninla May 19, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Thanks Chole. Good links to information. But I still have to ask WHERE WAS THE CITY WHILE HE WAS ACTING AS A MALICIOUS LANDLORD BEFORE THE RESIDENTS GOT EVICTED? The City must have known all about this guy from the info you found. Why didn't they act to make sure he maintained the building and protected the tenants from eviction? The City funds this absurd Rent Stabilization Department which causes untold hours of useless bureaucracy but they don't use any city power or influence to prevent tenant abuse to eviction. A landlord like this only exists because nobody will stop him from being a scumbag to tenants until after the most awful experience a person could have, evicted with no City Relocation Assistance/Placement guarantee. Only rhetoric about this city caring about renters.
Kara May 21, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I was the last tenant to move from El Mirador Apts, on August 31, 2011. Everyone else had left, but I was taking care of my close friend and colleague, a physician who was sharing my apartment while she tried to survive a rare form of cancer. She just had surgery at the beginning of August, and we could not easily move because she couldn’t walk. We co-founded a nonprofit org concerned with human rights and health care. We proposed to the city that some of the apartments at El Mirador could be used for nonprofits and people with disabilities. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. My friend recently died on April 23, 2012. I’ve been thinking how tragic it was that we had to move while fighting for her life. Others were also at risk, like the tenant who was 96 years old and died soon after being told she was evicted. I hope the city council will consider how people can rent apartments in historic buildings without having their lives threatened by eviction under the Ellis Act.
joninla May 21, 2012 at 06:30 AM
Kara - Thank You for sharing the details about what actually happened and what the experience and hardship that was endured by the evicted tenants of the El Mirador. Was I correct to infer that this City was of no real help nor attempted to control what I have heard were the most extreme type of improper/illegal awful landlord actions before and leading up to the actual Evictions? Likewise, was our City of WeHo who keeps declaring the protection of Renters, especially long term and disabled renters, as the primary purpose of the City and what drives the City's decisions of any help in relocating the evicted tenants and ensuring the court approved evictions were done in the least disruptive and with the support of the City for the actual details of having to move (from physically moving all personal furnishings to the emotional needs of the evicted tenants) especially with respect to knowing they would have somewhere else to move to? Now there is an empty historic building with inadequate parking for any high end condo conversion or regular apartment rental rehabilitation. The City has $16 million dollars to spend on a robo-garage a few blocks down on Sweetzer. Why not instead spend the $16 Million to buy the El Mirador, restore it and make it available for low income/needy residents as the city has repeatedly declared as its primary focus and purpose? Would you agree?

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