Once again, residents of the Edward H. Fickett, FAIA designed Hollywood Riviera and other supportive neighbors attended the City Council meeting Tuesday as 1350 N Hayworth Ave. found its way back on the agenda after the continuance from the Sept. 6 Council meeting.
The neighbors were not alone as the developers and architect, Jay Vanos, who presented to the chamber a second version of their proposed plans to Council, were in attendance. Everyone was there for the same reason, to ask: What is the fate of 1350 N. Hayworth Ave., and will it be affordable?
First were staff, who basically presented more of the same re-hashed, re-tooled staff report. Noted was the fact that no one from city staff reached out to any of the neighbors of Hayworth or the historical Hollywood Riviera next door.
Councilwoman Land was the first to draw attention to their lack of communication over the past six months with residents regarding the redesign of the proposed development. Staff replied, saying they were not specifically told to do so. Nor did they consider much public comment while working closely with the developer and architect for months.
Did they not hear the comments and take notes from prior meetings like the rest of us? They came across looking foolish. This, after a Planning Commission meeting on the basics of land-use last week addressing bias, community input and other basics of staff reports and responsibilities? Clearly McIntosh needs to evaluate her staff.
Residents and Council seemed to have a similar perspective of a building with less mass and better suitability to the street. The developer has a right to build a four-story condo due to the ordinance litigation originating in 2007. Regardless, the same elephant sits in the room.
Council members commented. Heilman said that any way you had it, development at 1350 N Hayworth Ave. was going to happen. He also said he did not think affordable housing would be a part of this particular site, whether we liked it or not. Mayor Duran had a different perspective, stating the issue would only find itself in further litigation. He may be right and Heilman could be overwhelmingly wrong.
Simply put, affordable housing could most certainly be accommodated on that site located at 1350 N. Hayworth Ave. They just have to buck up the cash and pay off the developer for wasting the people's time and the developer’s efforts.
The city is not immune to litigation. This particular case is a “WOW-sa!” kind of unique situation that has long lasting recourse judicially. It would make most sense to evaluate the pros and cons of settling with the developer and pay the guys deserved money due and give the neighbors some dignity within preserving cultural heritage.
Again, it all questions the abilities of City Manager Paul Arevalo and City Attorney Michael Jenkins to drive the ship properly and wisely with economic restraint and thoughtful legal advisement. Same tune, different channel.
Mayor Duran started his conversation by addressing the litigation involved with this particular site due to the Moratorium Ordinance initiated by Duran and Prang in 2007, suspending all demolition permits.
Take note this battle between city and developer began in 2007. It is now five years since the developer applied for their demolition permit. The city tried to shut them down early on and the developer’s rightfully fought back.
To a small degree, you have to appreciate the spirit for taking on the city management and legal counsel to let the courts ultimately decide. The city was wrong and the judgment was appealed in favor of the developer. The city had no other choice than to work with the developer or pay them out. No one seems to be happy with the litigation and time involved.
With public and Council support of retaining the charm and significance of Hayworth Avenue, it’s important to note Hayworth Avenue is, for the most part, one of the last untouched and preserved streets in West Hollywood. You walk down the sidewalk and gain a true sense of the community with its eclectic nature of historic buildings and glow of yesteryears.
Why not stop this "Mad Max" of a train and let everyone get off instead of going back to the table and having the developer not budging on a four-story design because of legal entitlement, and the neighbors and council only finding the mass and scale of a three-story building suitable for a historic neighborhood?
When Councilman D’Amico was on the Planning Commission, he was successful in transforming the beautiful Hancock Firehouse into affordable housing. That made sense fiscally, as well as part of a true effort to create affordable housing through sustainable measures.
That’s what redevelopment is all about, introducing development through initiatives that make sense to everyone involved. The 1350 N Hayworth Ave. site is a very unusual site having a historic building next door and an ongoing litigation with the developer.
The city actually has a chance of doing good on something gone bad.
In the case of 1350 N Hayworth Ave., everyone who has been involved with this for the past five years is certainly fed up with the continuance given to the agenda item so the city can crack open the same demons as last year and the year before and the year before that…
This is the one time you say, Buck up and pay!