West Hollywood West Residents Demand Moratorium on New Construction

west hollywood westWest Hollywood West residents want the city to declare a moratorium on new houses until it can create and implement design guidelines to prevent construction of large houses whose design they believe doesn’t complement existing houses in the neighborhood.

That was the consensus of a meeting tonight of about 100 residents of the neighborhood, which largely consists of houses built in the 1920s and 1930s. The meeting at times became heated as residents shouted across the room at each other and at Community Development Director Stephanie DeWolfe, who was running the meeting.

“This has been stewing for a long time, so there’s a lot of anger about these new homes destroying the charm of our neighborhood,” Richard Geisbart, president Of the West Hollywood West Residents Association, explained to WEHOville.

The city has approved 22 new construction applications for single-family homes since 2010, with eight of those applications coming in 2012 and 12 coming in 2013. Stephanie Reich, the city’s urban designer, said the 10 other applications are currently under review.

Consisting of approximately 1,000 single family homes and duplexes in the area bounded by Melrose Avenue on the north, Beverly Boulevard on the south, La Cienega Boulevard on the east and Doheny Drive on the west, West Hollywood West is know for its eclectic style and small town neighborhood feel.

Speakers asked that the city create a “neighborhood overlay zone,” which would apply specific guidelines for West Hollywood West. Those guidelines might require greater setbacks from the property line, a smaller house size relative to the size of the lot and a ban on construction of balconies or roof decks. However, such an overlay zone would likely take 12 to 15 months to implement because numerous public hearings would have to be held.

That’s why the residents also want a 12-month moratorium on construction of new two-story houses.

“If we don’t get a moratorium, we’ll end up with 40 of these boxy houses [before an overlay zone is implemented],” resident Joel Becker said.

DeWolfe warned that each solution could create other problems down the road and advised residents to consider everything carefully.

“It’s difficult to write a policy that doesn’t have unintended consequences,” she said.

Residents at the meeting rejected the idea of changing the city’s zoning code to address their concerns because such a change would affect single family homes throughout the city. Residents also rejected a proposal to have the Planning Commission’s Design Review subcommittee expand its scope to start reviewing single family homes in addition to commercial and multiple-unit residential buildings.

DeWolfe advised the residents to start an online petition about the moratorium and overlay zone to help convince the City Council that a majority of West Hollywood West residents want them.

In December, in response to these complaints about large, boxy houses, the City Council approved a measure that gave the city’s planning staff permission to consider context and compatibility with other houses in the neighborhood when approving new single family homes.

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Bazoo
Bazoo
7 years ago

Anyone supporting a moratorium should also support code enforcement inspecting houses in the neighborhood who have illegally converted garages which are a safety hazard since many of them have gas lines illegally connected to them. They should also enforce code violations for other renovations by existing home owners. We can’t just single out new development we need to deal with all issues in the neighborhood otherwise the moratorium would be discriminatory and lead to law suits costing the city millions of our tax payer dollars. Are we willing to increase our taxes to cover the costs to defend these law… Read more »

Lynn Russell
Lynn Russell
7 years ago
Reply to  Bazoo

Code Enforcement is and has repeatedly been the weak link. This relates not only to new development but to historic property maintenance and maintenance of WH housing stock. The personnel could be much better qualified and therefor alert to issues. As is it is currently they don’t seem to delineate between theoretical problematic apples or oranges or even realize that they are both fruit. The resulting expensive litigation becomes burdensome for the community and the city.

Tighter standards in code enforcement coupled with higher standards of acceptable design complementing neighborhood continuity could greatly improve the situation.

ali behzad
ali behzad
7 years ago

WE HAVE AN ISSUE WITH 2 SPECIFIC DEVELOPERS. IT IS LIKE HAVING A LICE INFESTATION; IT MUST BE TAKEN CARE OF BUT NOT WITH A BAZOOKA AKA a MORATORIUM. There are a lot of issues in West Hollywood West that are more important than this. All lots bordering the city of Los Angeles (56′ high Luxe on La Cienega, Mamonides School expansion) and the ones bordering our commercial strips (Restoration Hardware, Beverly Project, etc) have big and real issues due to their vicinity to these projects . Is anyone going for the moratorium or for a future height and sq/ft… Read more »

Larry Block
Larry Block
7 years ago

I live inTri-Wesr and we have lots of these boxes. I don’t like them. But it’s a fact that these 2 boxes per lot, selling fr 1.5 – 2.0 million each have increased property values because they have allowed a developer a profit paying 1.0 mil or more for a tear down. The meeting was marked by an incident where a homeowner— she appeared to be of Persian descent stood up to say…. I’m a West Hollywood resident for 30 years… I rented and saved my money to buy a house. I’m a work at home mom and needed more… Read more »

Manny
Manny
7 years ago

A moratorium in this case would not effect individual property owners doing upgrades or various other forms of remodeling. It is proposed for new 2-story construction only. The short moratorium period would allow the City Planning Department, NOT the Planning Commission (the Planning “COMMISSION” has NOTHING to do with this) time to develop design and code guidelines to better serve the community at large. This review takes time, hence the moratorium. I would hope that most current property owners would appreciate being surrounded by new thoughtful, quality and diverse properties that don’t unfairly compromise their own. At this moment, many,… Read more »

Lynn
Lynn
7 years ago
Reply to  Manny

Couldn’t have put that better Manny, more reflection and less reaction.

Brian Harmon
Brian Harmon
7 years ago

I OBJECT TO ANY MORATORIUM ON NEW CONSTRUCTION IN WEST HOLLYWOOD WEST! I AM A PROPERTY OWNER IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS NEIGHBORHOOD. I BELIEVE THE ISSUE HERE IS A SINGLE DEVELOPER, WE AS PROPERTY OWNERS SHOULD NOT BE RESTRICTED BECAUSE OF WHAT ONE DEVELOPER IS DOING! IT IS THE PLANNING COMMISSION THAT SHOULD BE SCRUTINIZING DEVELOPERS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE OFFERING VARIETY & DIVERSITY IN THEIR DESIGNS. WE AS PROPERTY OWNERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED ALLOT OF FLEXIBILITY & FREEDOM TO DO WHAT WE WANT WITH THE PROPERTIES WE OWN WITH CERTAIN BROAD AESTHETIC PARAMETERS, THESE CAN BE GUIDED… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 years ago

What is wrong with these narrow minded and bored neighbors?! I grew up in this area and LOVE seeing new homes of this size and style appearing all over the neighborhood! If not for these homes property values would never have gone up so much in the neighborhood and we would be surrounded by all of the old unattractive bungalows that finally got replaced. The homes are not too large I think they are just right in size for the neighborhood, especially as the neighborhood changes. Please do not allow this to stop. NO to the moratorium!!!

Lynn
Lynn
7 years ago

@Wehoan Scale, proportion and authenticity do not equal “the design police”. If it did Samta Barbara and other rather strict communities would not maintain high standards and be so desirable. Whatever the style it must resonate with the piece of land and be complimentary with the neighborhood.

Wehoan Fed Up with the NIMBYs
Wehoan Fed Up with the NIMBYs
7 years ago

No darlings, I am not a city planner. And I live right smack in the middle of our fair city, near Gelson’s. Utopia? No. But I’m quite content.

Must be nice to have the Rich People Problems here in Weho where we can dictate what’s pretty and what isn’t, and then hire all the lawyers in the world to sue the pants off City Hall to make sure our design preferences are enshrined in code.

How very 1%.

We should be thrilled that people want to invest in fixing up these houses and lots.

Manny
Manny
7 years ago

These too big for the lot boxy houses that all look the same are not good examples of what should replace the the shabby neglected “worn out termite infested” house.

What should replace these houses are homes that are better and appropriate. New houses should enhance the neighborhood not be bombastic structures that compromise the area’s established character and disrespect it’s neighbors.

Riley
Riley
7 years ago

@Fed Up with Wehoan, which Utopian section of WeHo do you live in now? ‘cuz we all want to move where YOU are. Good lord, I hope you are not actually one of the city planners.

Wehoan Fed Up with the NIMBYs
Wehoan Fed Up with the NIMBYs
7 years ago

Welcome back, design police! Let’s give the rich homeowners of West Hollywood whatever they want, because, by god, they know what’s pretty and what isn’t! Screw what other people want! Is West Hollywood West a charming part of town? Yes. It surely is. I lived over there when I first moved here. But it is also dotted with a lot of older homes that haven’t been well maintained and which would certainly benefit from being razed… If someone buys the land, they should be able to build what they want, without the Weho Design Police stepping in and calling them… Read more »

Wesley McDowell
Wesley McDowell
7 years ago

While I sympathize with the West Hollywood West homeowners on this issue, I don’t understand why they can’t get as motivated to fight the monstrous development on Rosewood. They don’t want big, two-story boxes (totally agree with that) but don’t seem to mind having a 12-story building being doubled and many 2-story houses added on Rosewood. The developers of this project have done a superb job in buying access (shocked aren’t we?). They EIR says this project will have impact. This is simply laughable but in WeHo we apparently really don’t care. So now it looks like a big non-conforming… Read more »

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