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Patch Blog: Condo Project Continued, But Will It Be Affordable?

Can affordable housing enter the conversation? The fate of 1350 N Hayworth Ave. is prolonged as Heilman urges council for another continuance on the item.

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!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Wendy February 22, 2012 at 06:48 PM
What is affordable housing in a high rent district? How do you achieve that? Why would any investor want to go there? Look at it from the point of view from the builder. You cannot minimize units and create more affordable housing at the same time. You have to create more supply than demand in order to get affordable. How ya going to do that in the high rent district. Anyway the building being torn down was built in the 50s. Very few original 1920 homes exist on that block. The builder wants to replace something that looks the same just 1 floor higher. 17 new homeowners is a good thing. You got people complaining as if this was a 20 story tower. When people rebuild then generally build larger. Otherwise what's the point. It's a waste of land. There is something fundamentally wrong with lifetime renters stopping a property owner from building. Somebody who just moved in 3 months ago who has no money invested in WeHo can cancel out somebody that has 30 million invested. That makes no sense.
Steve Ward February 22, 2012 at 07:07 PM
@Wendy Obviously you have some notion of the suggestion the developer is responsible for providing Affordable Housing. Please re-read or at least read the blog before you spout off about misdirected beef. Neither developer or neighbors of Hayworth are happy with any plan at the moment. It is a major project with litigation all over it. Please try and do a little more research into the matter before spouting off. I've had opportunity to speak with neighbors, architect and developers. Have you? Didn't see you last night at Council... Go blow somewhere else... Affordable Housing is a city-wide initiative that will always have to be addressed in some manner. Why not use this situation littered with litigation to do some positive for the community? What is wrong with trying to preserve the sanctity of an untouched street in your community? Does every street in your world have to be redeveloped? Again, read the blog before you post. It is quite obvious you did not. Sheesh...
Wendy February 22, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Your blog is very long. Have you tried reading it?
Lynn Russell February 22, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Blogs like this initiated by an informed individual are a gift to the community as a possible means for solving a range of issues. Kindly treat it wiith respect. If you feel you are unable to participate in a meaningful, cogent and respectful manner you may want to endeavor to choose your own topic and create your own. Patch will gladly afford you the opportunity.
Wendy February 23, 2012 at 01:36 AM
L.R. The real estate agent says that affordable housing can certainly be accomplished at this address in his 8th paragraph. I want to know how that can be done . Please kindly take my post with respect. If you are not able to participate in a meaningful, cogent and respectful manner you may want to to endeavor to heed your own advice. I wish those who know how to create affordable housing would lead by example.
joninla February 23, 2012 at 05:02 AM
I think given what I have seen from the City and the Planning Commission, not only will they cause enormous litigation (and the costs) to anyone who does not submit themselves, their projects, their property rights to the control of the Commission, when (as in this case) the City loses a court battle, they retaliate against the property/owner who successfully won their rights in court. If nothing else, I would think that they are just pleased with themselves and their power to delay this project even longer. Why? Because they are pissed they didn't get things their way. A mentality that comes from any long term position of power. The attitude, decisions and even rational thought, become secondary to spiteful malicious feeling about a higher authority actually limiting what they have come to believe is their absolute right to act as they see fit. They never ask the neighbors. Nobody ever just knocks on the door of a few residents and say I'm on the city council and would like to know what your think. Yet they keep dragging out the old "Well we think the direction of the neighborhood is going in a different direction than the applicants submission" They haven't even been on site when they say this absurdly vague reason for decision making. In the end, due to City Involvement, everyone will be unhappy with the final project.
Lynn Russell February 23, 2012 at 06:06 AM
You are totally misdirected. This is not the case.
Rudolf Martin February 23, 2012 at 02:44 PM
very insightful blog. what exactly have city staff been directed to do ( if not take comments from the last meeting into consideration) and what is their official role when working with the developer and architect?
Lynn Russell February 23, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Wendy and Joninla appear to be committed to collectively demonizing everyone that works for the city with a special target on John Heilman and Abbé Land. Absent most of the facts and armed with a very skewed POV these folks continue 24/7 to push that agenda without ever revealing their true identities, attend any city meetings or legitimately become active in creating change. Joninla considers creating change "design by committee" that will satisfy no one and Wendy just wants to shoot down whatever doesn't pass muster beyond her caustic sensibility. How us this helpful? Part of changing the mind of one in opposition is like arguing before a judge to convince him of your POV based on facts to substantiate one's argument along with logic and reason. Without that you are sunk. How about it Joninla and Wendy? Kindly consider stepping out and helping to provide a realistic and authentic discourse. Consider meeting with those with whom you disagree.....you may actually make some progress and be surprised. Positive energy makes one feel much better than being angry all the time with no hope of a solution.
Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move February 23, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I would say, "Don't hold your breath." I have never seen or heard any city council anywhere in any city or state, caving to the demands of affordable housing when there is a profit to be made somewhere by someone. -- No matter how delicately it is couched by a team of political experts or developer cronies.
Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move February 23, 2012 at 04:12 PM
But of course, West Hollywood is welcome to prove my comment wrong at any time.
Wendy February 23, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Lynn Russell, You are making false statements about me. I do not attack those who work for the city. I do not think about them. They do not interest me. I am not jealous of them. I do not even know JoininLA. He or she is welcome to their opinion. I do attack the usual suspects. The usual suspects are those who show up to every meeting just to voice down anyone who wants to make changes on their own paid property. I got a big problem with someone who does not actually own anything and wants to control others who do. I compare those to neighbors who show up to your BBQ uninivited and then complain about what they are eating for free and change the tone of your party. Quit trashing my reputation by saying that I am against the city council. If you notice on each post there is an empty box that says leave a comment. I am execising my free speech. Please do not slander me anymore by saying that I speak ill of certain people when I have not. I want those who promote Affordable housing in WeHo to show me how it can be done when at the same time builders can only build small projects. That amuses me because it's impossible. How do you do that in the high rent district? Maybe a college grad can show me. Everyone who is for slow growth seems to be for affordable housing at the same time. The first cancels the second out. How do you keep cost down and figure out fair. There would have to be a lottery for 1 million people chasing the same unit.
joninla February 23, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Wendy - I have to say I have no connection to you either. My opinion are just that, mine. I agree you have your freedom of speech, but I have decided not to engage or mention your opinions or statemnts for one reason. Time and again you opinions are filled with incredibly offensive ratial, religious, ethnic, or any other topic involving juding a class of people. You may or may not intent to be so offensive. In fact you may even be unaware that the words you use carry such explosive and sociallly innapropriate prejudiicisl. But given the numerous truly offened and upset felllow participants explaining the offensiveness they feel from what you say, I have to refrain from getting involved with social/ratial issues you bring up when there might be a point of actual fact I might otherwise support. You, of course, have your freedom of speech. Unfortunately, I can not condone such hatefuill speech ant thefore all othe issuse you bring up remain out of the community conversation.
Lynn Russell February 23, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Without knowing what the particular burr under your saddle is or how it got there, perhaps you would think of hosting a blog,hosting a meeting or whatever to find a solution to the problem as you see it. You seem to have a great deal of experience ranting and found controversy with countless thoughtful individuals on Patch. Perhaps you could share your specific experience and professional credentials with the public and take responsibility under your actual name.
Lynn Russell February 23, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Previous comment addressed to Wendy.
Wendy February 24, 2012 at 07:01 AM
Join in LA. I also stay out of your beeswax for the same reasons that you give towards me that you may be unaware of. It's really annoying when someone wants to take the High Road when they have their own record of calling the kettle black. You wrote that a family member was arrested for being gay years ago. I know that not to be true because nobody could be arrested for just being gay 40 years ago or 80 years ago. There had to be more to the story. So when you stretch stuff I listen but do not attack it. You have also said some very nasty stuff about the Republican party. Your record is not much better than mine. So please do not take the high road at my expense. I do not make fun of your blogs. I try to figure out what you are talking about from time to time. And for Lynn, Please do not advise me on anything. I do not need your expertise on how to patch. I do not tell you what to do. I am not interested in blogging. When a person decides to blog a reply button comes with the territory. If you can't handle it don't post. Have you ever noticed I am the most conservative person here yet I have never told anyone how to write and what words to use. Why is it you people from the far left always want to control free speech and other people's behavior?
Lynn Russell February 24, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Wendy.."most conservative"...."you people"...."far left". Huh? Far out!
Stephanie February 25, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Is it Wendy...or maybe it is Steve?
Cathy February 25, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Wendy, just curious....are you a property owner?

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