West Hollywood made history Monday night by becoming the first city in the nation to .
A packed house was on hand for the marathon seven-hour City Council meeting that also saw the panel members send the controversial Centrum Sunset project back to the drawing board, unhappy with the proposed building slated for the old Tower Records site.
Fur-free supporters stayed extra late for the issue discussion, which did not even begin until 11:40 p.m. and ended at 1:20 a.m. More than 30 people spoke during public comment, about 75 percent speaking in favor of the ban and about what they said are the horrific ways animals are killed for their fur.
Representatives of some area businesses opposed the ban, saying it would hurt their sales. Some threatened to move their businesses out of the city if the ban passed.
In voting 5-0 for the fur-clothing ban, the council seemed to consider the prohibition an extension of the animal-cruelty-free resolution it passed several years ago.
, who sponsored the fur ordinance, said it was about the “impacts we have on the world. This is really an opportunity for our city to lead in a very specific and thoughtful way.”
In reviewing the language of the ordinance, which does not apply to furniture items that have fur, the council realized several issues that had not been addressed: selling fur at vintage/used clothing stores and yard sales, penalties for disregarding the ban and an implementation date.
The council was in favor of allowing secondhand fur to be sold since it would not be from an animal that had been newly killed.
D’Amico said that civil penalties would be sufficient since the city can dictate those terms. If the council made it a criminal offense, the city would have no say about the penalties since state and federal laws dictate those.
As for an implementation date, D’Amico suggested June 30, 2012. However, the council recommended getting input from area businesses before determining the exact date.
D’Amico said that some businesses had been unwilling to cooperate when they were first approached about the ban. Councilwoman Abbe Land suggested businesses might be more willing now that they understand the ordinance is going forward with or without their input.
Because those changes must be written into the ordinance, the council will hold a second first-reading at its next meeting.
Afterward, D’Amico told Weho Patch that he was excited by the vote. “My colleagues are really wonderful, thoughtful, humane, socially compassionate legislators,” he said. “I’m honored to work with them.”
The council spent two-and-a-half hours dealing with the for 8801 Sunset Blvd. That three-story, 52,000 square-foot project would be home to a David Barton boutique gym and spa, as well as retail and office space.
More than 50 people spoke during public comment, about 75 percent opposing the project because of video signage, parking and traffic issues.
D’Amico said he wanted to like the whimsical, curving architecture, but that it was “blind to its totality.” He also had concerns about how it fit in with the Frank Gehry-designed IAC building next door.
“It sets up an opportunity for a Fred and Ginger environment where these two buildings will be dancing,” D’Amico said. “But we have more of a Fred and Ethel where the two buildings are arguing about who owns the moment.”
The size of the project was a significant concern to the council. Land commented that developers were trying to put too much into a narrow parcel of land. Councilman John Heilman said it felt like a “vanity project” to house a David Barton gym on Sunset.
The council seemed most concerned about the parking issues. The proposed building would have 238 parking spaces on two levels, 40 spaces fewer than what the city code requires. That parking would be entirely valet with triple tandem parking in some areas, mechanical lifts in others.
“If we’re going to build something there, we better make sure the parking works,” said Heilman. Meanwhile, Mayor Pro Tempore Jeff Prang summed it up by saying, “The parking doesn’t work.”
The council found the increased traffic on the routinely gridlocked intersection of Sunset, Horn and Holloway problematic. Land said that she was reluctant to “experiment at the intersection.”
Without any support for the project, the council voted 5-0 to continue it to an indefinite date, thus sending it back to the drawing board. But rather than have the Planning Commission deal with it whenever the developer comes back with new designs, the council opted instead to create a subcommittee composed of D’Amico and Heilman to work with the developer.
Afterward, a representative for Centrum Sunset said, “We heard their concerns and we look forward to working with the subcommittee.”
Meanwhile, Elyse Eisenberg, who spearheaded the neighborhood opposition, was happy the council heard the residents' concerns. “We look forward to continue working with the developer to get a project that is less intense and more suitable for this very complicated intersection,” she said.
Laurel Hardware Restaurant
The council voted 4-1 not to hear an appeal of the , with D’Amico the sole yes vote.
That proposed restaurant at 7984 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Laurel) was approved by Community Development Director Anne McIntosh in July over the objections of some residents who said the 3,500-square-foot restaurant would not have adequate parking to meet its code requirements.
In August, the , but some residents appealed that move.
In opting not to hear the appeal, the council said it did not want to undermine the authority of the Planning Commission or the Community Development director by hearing it.
Afterward, Ed Buck, who filed the appeal, told Weho Patch he was disappointed by the decision.
“I think that the council, the Planning Commission and most importantly the Community Development director have been put on notice by this whole process that the neighbors are upset,” Buck said. “In the future, the process needs to be different.”
After four years of debate and resident input, the council finally voted on the . The council voted 4-1 to adopt the new plan, with Mayor Pro Tempore Jeffrey Prang voting against it.
Afterward, Prang told Weho Patch that although the General Plan overall was well written, he voted against it because he had concerns about the height and density allowed in some areas of the city.
“I did not want to be in the position where a project comes before me and they say, ‘We played by all the rules; why aren’t you going to support us?' ” Prang said. “There are some of the rules that I still don’t agree with. I just don’t want to be in the position to be a hypocrite if there are projects I’m not going to like in certain parts of the city where I think the zoning is still too extensive.”