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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. 

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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