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Residents, Property Owner Discuss Opposing Views on Condo Project

The property owner, architect and residents meet to share views and concerns about plans to build a condominium complex on Palm Avenue lots that are currently occupied by vintage Craftsman bungalows.

West Hollywood residents met Wednesday with the owner of three vintage homes on Palm Avenue who seeks to replace them with condominiums.

More than 20 residents filled the front yard and porch of one of the bungalows. Many voiced their opposition to demolishing the homes to make way for two four-story buildings, while others said they hadn't formed an opinion on the matter and welcomed information on the proposed project.

Giovanni Uriu, the project's architect, said his design calls for 12 units in each building, which would require the city to approve a "density bonus" because the area's zoning code allows for a 10-unit maximum.

The height of Uriu's building design is 45 feet, which is the zoning code's height limit. The front setback is 18 feet, which is two feet less than the city's requirement, and 19 feet in the back, which is four feet more than the code's minimum.

Each building also will have one unit of low-income housing.

Property owner David Vayner currently rents the Craftsman homes at 923, 927 and 931 Palm Ave. that were built in the early 1900s.

"You're going to build a monstrosity right behind my home when there's already one to the south and one to the north," Josh Geller, a homeowner who lives on Betty Way, told Vayner. "If you were in my shoes, would you want that?"

Vayner replied, "I understand your concern, but unfortunately we can do nothing about that. Look at the buildings around you," he said, pointing to the other large housing complexes on Palm Avenue.

Uriu told Patch he attempted to create a design that would be "minimally intrusive" for the neighbors on Betty Way who live behind the property.

But after hearing lots of staunch opposition to the project, he commented "it looks as if no matter what we do, we won't be able to satisfy them."

Geller and other residents also expressed concern about an additional large building's impact on parking, traffic flow and increased noise.

"Those are my interests," Deanna Linz told Patch.

"There are different people with different interests," she said. "I respect them all, and I respect our process. If people without a lot of money want to have a voice, they need organization and they need numbers." 

Jeffrey Janis took a neutral stance on the project compared with other residents in attendance.

"I'm here to learn more about what this project is to be able to form an opinion that is based on the truth and both sides," he told Patch before the meeting began.

Some residents suggested that Vayner refurbish the existing houses and rent them at a higher rate.

He dismissed this idea, however, claiming that aesthetic improvements wouldn't justify enough of a rent increase that could compete with the profit from the condominium building.

"I used to live on this block, I've seen [the Craftsman bungalows], I've walked by them and think they're wonderful," West Hollywood resident Manny Rodriguez told Patch. "It's too bad that they're not going to be here forever, apparently."

Rodriguez added that unless the vintage homes are legally protected by the city, Vayner "has the right to do what he chooses to do" as long as the project complies with the city's building code.

Vayner, who proposed a similar project in 2005 that city rejected, told residents "we hear your concern, and this time we try to do our best ... as much as possible."

Mayor Jeffrey Prang told Patch he attended the evening meeting, which the city requires as part of the project application process, to learn about the project and hear residents' views on it.

"This will be coming before the City Council at one point or another, and I want to make an informed and researched decision," Prang said.

Allegra Allison said the century-old bungalows are "a part of our history, and there's very little of it left in this portion of town."

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jose December 03, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I sure do Ali....Nothing more lame than using sarcasm to prove a lame point.
me December 03, 2012 at 06:10 PM
UGH, whatever josie!!!....your one sentence comments lack intelligence
joninla December 04, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Thank you for the rational statement. Too bad it will fall on deaf ears.
bud Lockhart December 07, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I'm with joninla! Those old homes are eye sores on Palm. Let them tear them down and build something attractive and with a higher tax base.
joninla December 08, 2012 at 04:02 AM
@ bud Lockhart Thank you - I live on the next block, an have thought the buildings were a blight on the street and time was past due to tear them down and build a structure like the rest of the stree has. It's not the kind of situation worthy of peservation (this particular case).

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