Another Beverly Hills Hotel?
An article today in CityWatch identifies the developer behind a proposed hotel project in Hollywood as a leading figure in a group of right-wing Catholic executives that defines abortion and same-sex marriage as “intrinsically evil.”
The developer is R.D. Olson Development and R.D. Olson Construction. Olson is seeking permission from the L.A. City Council to build Ivar Gardens, a 21-story, 275-room at 6409 Sunset Blvd.
In his article in CityWatch, Peter Dreier calls out the connection between Legatus, the right-wing religious group, and Olson by noting that Bill Wilhelm is the president of R.D. Olson Construction and on the executive board of Legatus. Olson is based in Irvine. Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and the chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. Legatus identifies itself as “ambassadors for Christ in the marketplace.”
A similar issue emerged in 2014, with a call for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel. The hotel is owned by a company controlled by Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, who implemented in his country a harsh form of Sharia law that calls for the stoning to death of gay and lesbian people and flogging women who have sex outside of marriage. In May of that year a variety of celebrities and activists including Jay Leno and his wife, Mavis, of the Feminist Majority Foundation, staged a rally across Sunset Boulevard from the Beverly Hills Hotel to protest the implementation of Sharia law by Bolkiah, who is the absolute ruler of Brunei.
Legatus, Drier writes, “supports dangerous ‘conversion therapy’ to ‘cure’ LGBTQ kids and adults to become ‘normal’ heterosexuals … (and it) “refers to homosexuality as a ‘disorder,’” and encourages gay people to ‘live a chaste and celibate life’.”
Drier notes that there also is opposition to the Ivar Gardens project because “the firm has made no commitment to guarantee that the construction jobs and the permanent jobs in the hotel and commercial space will reflect the diversity of the Hollywood area.
“Others believe that there is a better use for that site than yet another fancy hotel. Under the site’s existing C4 zoning designation, the City Council could insist that it be used instead to construct much-needed mixed-income housing to help address LA’s severe shortage of affordable apartments.”
“If it approves this hotel deal, the City Council would be putting money in Wilhelm’s pocket — some of which might find its way into Legatus’ coffers to promote its bigoted agenda,” Drier writes.
The L.A. City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee – comprised of Gil Cedillo, Mitch Englander, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Jose Huizar and Curren Price — will hold a hearing on the project on April 4. The project is in Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s 13th District.