UPDATE: The Sofitel Hotel will no longer pursue its plan to use its emergency evacuation helicopter landing pad for commercial landings, reports Los Angeles 5th District Councilman Paul Koretz, who has also changed his position on the matter.
“I have concluded that the community is not ready to support even a trial period [of commercial landings]," Koretz said in an announcement released Tuesday. "I therefore have strongly urged the hotel not to proceed with consideration of this potential service and am pleased that the hotel has agreed not to pursue approval of this service.”
Koretz, who previously served on the West Hollywood City Council from 1988-2000 and also represented the California 42nd District in Sacramento from 2000-2006, represents the Sofitel area and lives less than a mile away. He sent a letter to Caltrans supporting the plan on March 25.
“I am comfortable with the granting of a temporary license while additional analysis is conducted on the permanent application,” he sad in the letter.
As , the 10-story Sofitel, located at 8555 Beverly Blvd. across from the Beverly Center, was in the early stages of applying to have the conditional use permit for its helipad changed to allow for commercial landings.
Although the hotel is within Los Angeles city limits, the West Hollywood city boundary is directly behind the hotel.
Residents in the West Hollywood West neighborhood, north of the hotel, were bitterly opposed to the idea. Noisy helicopter traffic from the nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the is a regular concern.
Government leaders weighed in, opposing a luxury hotel’s plan to use its emergency evacuation helicopter landing pad for commercial purposes.
West Hollywood City Councilmen John Duran and John D’Amico, with California 42nd District Assemblyman Mike Feuer, sent letters to the California Department of Transportation, voicing strong opposition to the upscale Sofitel Hotel’s proposal to use the helicopter pad on its roof for nonemergency landings.
In a letter sent Monday to Caltrans, Duran and D’Amico said, “We want to emphatically convey to you our opposition to the issuance of a permit to allow nonemergency flights to land at the Sofitel hotel.” The letter goes on to say such landings would be “detrimental to the quality of life and health of our residents.”
Feuer, who represents the Sofitel’s district in Sacramento, joined by L.A. County 3rd District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, also sent a letter to Caltrans. That letter, dated April 1, said that they “strongly oppose the issuance of a ‘helistop’ permit.”
Their letter also said that the helipad, while providing a luxury to a few, will impact residents in more than 1,000 homes in the area. "This concept is unacceptable even with the proposed limited hours of operation and the proposed requirement that these nonessential helicopter flights follow business corridors on their approaches and departures,” the letter states.
Additionally, West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman, while not opposing the hotel’s plan, did send an email to Caltrans on Monday asking that the City Council be allowed to “review and respond” to the Sofitel’s application.
Calls to Sofitel general manager Gunther Zweimuller asking for verification were not returned. Similarly, emails and phone calls to Mike Leary, the consultant the Sofitel hired to get the helistop approved, were also not returned.
Weho Patch will continue to try to get a comment from the Sofitel. Please check back for further updates.