Opinion: What Is the Identity of the Eastside of West Hollywood?

If you are like me, in the last several years you have driven around Los Angeles and noticed these single-lot buildings being bought up and torn down, and these tall, eyesore boxes going up to replace them. They are blanketing L.A. with no real architectural design, nothing that speaks high-end originality or has a “wow factor.”

I realize that there is a need for housing. But I also realize that many of the developers who are quickly building these cheap and ugly buildings are not taking into consideration the look and integrity of the neighborhoods. They are not considering the effect those buildings will have on their neighborhoods 20 to 50 years from now.

Roxanne McBryde
I am an Eastside activist who has been living on the Eastside of West Hollywood for 26 years. I have seen the 1920 and 1930’s classic Craftsman and Mediterranean-style homes being knocked down and replaced by a hodgepodge, a mish mosh, of cheap-looking, cookie-cutter condos where there has been no original thought put into the design.

The Eastside of West Hollywood deserves better! We want bold, top-notch, high-end esthetics — phenomenal designs. Buildings for example, with marble, glass and metal art that get people talking and give them a sense of pride about where they live. We also want the builders to take pride in what they create with designs that are appealing to the eye and become the talk of the city. We have to live with their designs long after the architects and developers have left for the next project.

Perhaps if the City of West Hollywood required that each building carried a very visible permanent plaque with the names of its designers, architects and builders, they would put more thought into what they are leaving behind.

The City of West Hollywood has some control over the design of new buildings and has employed a revolving door of urban designers. But they do not live in West Hollywood, and each has had his or her own way of “seeing” the Eastside. As outsiders with no real investment in the neighborhood, none has a real incentive to put that extra mile of “vision” into what they approve.

I propose instead that the city form a design review team or committee that would work with the neighborhood to create an overall identity for the Eastside. It would look at what other cities are doing to develop their identities and develop a five- to ten-year plan. What it comes up with surely would be more agreeable than what’s going on now, a visionless, discombobulating array of buildings with no connecting theme.

We have very talented people that have lived on the Eastside for a longtime who would love to participate in a new vision for the neighborhood. For example, there is Carlos Florez, an architect who sits on the Eastside Working group. I urge the City of West Hollywood to look into hiring and appointing people like him who actually LIVE in West Hollywood. If a person lives and works in WeHo, he or she brings to the table a completely different vision. A new urban designer and possibly two new planning commissioners are likely to be appointed soon, which may mean changes in the planning commission’s design review committee. That means now is a wonderful opportunity to change the discombobulating direction!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also address the issue of public safety. In the last year the city and the Sheriff Department have done a good job at listening and responding to our needs on the Eastside. Public safety here is an ongoing, exhausting issue that requires a tremendous amount of attention to get results. Unfortunately, Tod Hallman, my fellow activist and Neighborhood Watch captain, and I have focused all of our attention on the public safety issue, meaning eyesore projects have slipped through the cracks without much say or attention.

With an election just a few months away, I am dedicating myself to visit with my neighbors to make the “Eastside identity” the top issue for our vote. I refuse to allow any more of these lousy eyesores to slip through the cracks, only to hear the complaints of the neighbors after the approvals of those eyesore projects are made. I want to see solutions to the problem I am laying out in this article to prevent the Eastside of West Hollywood from looking like the rest of Los Angeles. My vote in this election will ride solely on the Eastside Identity.

Roxanne McBryde is a Neighborhood Watch captain and a long-time resident of West Hollywood’s Eastside.

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Bridgette Haig
Bridgette Haig
5 years ago

This article and comments are so interesting to read! I am a renter in West Hollywood and a transplant from another state. Of the 10 years that I’ve lived in California I have spent the majority of my time in West Hollywood…having bounced around to other cities a couple times through the years, I always find myself back here because it carries a certain charm and warm energy among many other appealing qualities. I often walk my dog around my neighborhood (which is on the east side of WeHo) and visit different parks throughout the area and constantly see new… Read more »

Haletiki
Haletiki
5 years ago

Indeed Ms. McBryde raises a substantive point about Eastside Identity.

There is a lack of forward thinking for that entire end of West Hollywood. Urban planning opportunities have been wasted, which includes better traffic management.

The Planning and Council lack vision, so have not understood the larger problems, nor have they considered hiring those who might help them.

The ill-considered projects and their lack of integration with the neighborhoods on the Eastern end of Santa Monica and at La Brea are indicative of dismal things to come.

patryk
patryk
6 years ago

Personally I like the new buildings on the east side. Most of the people I know, also like them. Perhaps we are immune to the Michael Weinstein’s Measure S virus. I suggest everyone get innoculated before you become too insulated from the needs of many outweighing the whims of the few.

Stuart D Katsh
Stuart D Katsh
6 years ago

Back to the topic at hand, which was not originally Airbnb’s. It was in is the concern for designs of for future buildings on the east side of West Hollywood as Roxanne so eloquently pointed out. We need a design committee and to be very vocal with the city with this committee. In small groups or as individuals we have been vocal against many designs of buildings that have been erected regardless of our concerns And I think Roxanne’s idea of ” if the City of West Hollywood required that each building carried a very visible permanent plaque with the… Read more »

No Airbnb
No Airbnb
6 years ago

Perhaps the city prosecutor should aggressively pursue landlords of rent controlled buildings and tenants of same buildings in violation of Airbnb rentals. Stiff penalties could somehow legally be used to augment affordable housing funds and those harmed. Landlords turning a blind eye to drug sales in their buildings risk loss of their buildings which was effective in Los Angeles. Perhaps violation of Airbnb law could be dealt with in a similar respect.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
6 years ago

Thanks Roxanne for the timely commentary. So far we have not seen anything beyond posturing in regard to Air BnB; it seems pretty rampant all over West Hollywood. There are plenty of rooms for rent in units that are in rent controlled buildings and I suspect we have lost scores, perhaps a couple of hundred rental units to Air BnB in rent controlled buildings. The City needs a serious enforcement mechanism. As Randy points out, this is not rocket science. The Eastside is going thru some exciting changes but we still face old challenges and several new ones. Crime and… Read more »

Randy
Randy
6 years ago

Todd, if you are aware of AirBnB activity in these buildings, you might want to report it to the city. The last time this issue was brought up at a Council meeting, they agreed to increase the fees. They also addressed the difficulty with enforcement. I know it probably takes a lot of man hours to investigate, but why can’t city employees simply make a booking at these properties and then cite the owners upon arrival? Maybe that wouldn’t work, because owners aren’t always there to greet their guests. I find it particularly ironic that this editorial has an advertisement… Read more »

Roxanne
Roxanne
6 years ago

It’s interesting to read different viewpoints and thank you for your comments. If you live on the Eastside of WeHo, there is an understanding that public safety has absolutely consumed an incredible amount of volunteer hours to stay on top of it every single day, many times to the point of exhaustion! Those of us that volunteer and have jobs can only participate so much in the ongoing developments or the meetings that many times are inconvenient due to our available hours. Having an actual design committee for the Eastside of WeHo would solve many problems that we have come… Read more »

Larry Block
6 years ago

There are design reviews for all minor and major and projects where the public participation is encouraged. On many of these projects neighbors voice their concerns and in most all case the developer and the planning commission work together to find the middle ground and address the community concerns. The planning department and the design review committee work with the community to accept or reject various parts of any project. Many developers also have initial scoping meetings to ask for public input. This article would suggest that the author has been fighting for change but it but Im not aware… Read more »

Julie Austin
6 years ago

It’s not just West Hollywood. That is also happening in my West Los Angeles neighborhood. The developers don’t have the same pride of the neighborhood. Sad to see it happen.

Development Woes
Development Woes
6 years ago

Our West Hollywood has perhaps unwittingly designed a code that enables opportunistic development of neighborhoods devoid of architectural authenticity, integrity, compatibility and cohesion. The need for housing also does not appear authentic as it advocates size over quality through crafty calculations at the same time herding viable buildings in need of refurbishment out the back door along with its residents. False impressions of “courtyard standards” in order to gain more opportunities is deceptive and does not produce a meaningful contribution to the neighborhood. The concept of Exemplary Design is a ruse allow more substantiated opportunity. New development whether it be… Read more »

Alison
Alison
6 years ago

I keep hearing that the Dylan,Huxley and other big buildings on the east side are AirBnB properties. What I haven’t heard or seen is any proof of that. I did look at the new Avalon’s website and they charge tenants for water and trash pickup on top of the high rents!

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