On Monday, the long-disputed plans for 1343 N. Laurel Ave. at Fountain, known by many in the community as “Tara,” took a small step forward as the West Hollywood City Council approved a $75,000 agreement with PMC World for “community engagement services,” which will include focus groups, stakeholder interviews and a “community visioning workshop” to gather public input on the property’s future.
Without referring to past snafus, the PMC World agreement seems to allude to the city’s past legal troubles with “Tara.”
“Conducting a site-specific outreach assessment during the project team kickoff meeting will provide the foundation for the design of our process,” the agreement says. “The assessment will ensure that the consultant team benefits from the City’s past lessons learned, that City staff benefit from our team’s knowledge of best practices, and that we are ready to work together as a team on this important project.”
The “lessons learned” may have had something to do with community engagement. In 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the city violated state law by not getting adequate public input before proceeding with plans to use the site for affordable housing for seniors.
The property once belonged to Elsie Weisman, who in 1997 donated Tara to the city, reportedly with the stipulation that it preserve the property and do no further development on the site. However, Weisman did not put down her wishes in writing as part of deed transfer. That lack of written instructions created years of legal battles following Weisman’s death in 2000 at the age of 101.
During a 2006 council meeting, now deceased Councilmember Sal Guarriello, who was mayor at the time of the transfer, verified that Weisman did indeed say the property had to be preserved.