Planning Conmission Approves Condos on Hilldale

With a 6-1 vote Thursday night, West Hollywood’s Planning Commission approved a new condominium complex on Hilldale Avenue, north of Cynthia.

Illustration of 917-929 Hilldale Ave. (Ric Abramson Architects)

Consisting of nine two-story townhouse units, the complex will be located on three parcels at 917, 921 and 927 Hilldale. Those parcels currently have a total of six dwelling units,built between 1922 and 1939,that will be demolished.Oncethe project is completed,the city will see a net gain of three units.

Each of the units will have two or three bedrooms plus a study/office area, as well asindividual garagesand roof decks. Seven of the units will have private garden or courtyard spacewhere the owners can plant flowers and trees directly into the ground.

The Commissionloved the project,Commissioner John Ericksoncalling it “well designed.”

“It takes an existing space and really brings something very new and nice to the neighborhood,” said Erickson.

“It’s a really beautiful project. It does well in terms of incorporating into the fabric of the neighborhood,” said Commissioner Stacey Jones. “This developer has gone above and beyond to make a project that is better not bigger. We don’t see that all of the time here.”

MeanwhileCommissioner Rogerio Carvalheiropraisedarchitect Ric Abramson’sthoughtfulcontemporary design,calling it “expertly designed.”

“I think the design standard here is one that all housing projects should try to achieve in the city of West Hollywood,” said Carvalheiro.

The project receiveda variance to allow a front yard setback (distance from property line tothebuilding) ofjust12 feet.West Hollywood zoning laws say front setbacks should be the average of the houses on either side.While the building to the south has a 10-foot setback,the house immediately north at 931 Hilldale is set back 62 feet from the street. Without the variance, thecomplexwould have to be set back 30 feet from the streetand would have been unable to build two of its nine units.

The Commission also agreed to modify the required rear setback from the standard 15 feet to 13 feet 6 inches.

While Thursday’s meeting lasted two hours and forty-five minutes, almost two hoursof that timewas consumed by a tangentialdiscussionrelating to the solar panels on the house at 931 Hilldale. City law says that a new structure cannot block the solar panelsonan adjacent property. Even though the newcomplex is only two stories high, during the winter months,it wouldcast a shadowuntilmidday on the solar panelsofthe one-story house(an accessory unit of the main two-storybuilding).

DeveloperAgustin Rodriguez,who is constructing the project through hisANR Development Company,has offered to pay100% of the costfor new solar panels, ones that will be twice as strong. The owner of the 931 Hilldale house has indicated she would agree to this, but the exact details have not been worked out.

However,if the 931Hilldalehomeowner fails to sign off on the solar remediation plan, she couldpreventthenewproject from being builtas designed.After a prolonged and tedious discussion,the Commissionoptedto let John Keho, the Director of thecity’sPlanning and Development Services Department,be the person to determine if the solar panels have been upgraded and properly installedif the two parties cannot reach a satisfactory agreement.

Commissioner Lynn Hoopingarnercast the only vote against the project. However, her vote was not against Abramson’s project. She worried the 931 homeowner was not protectedby the motion as written.

“Ithink it was a brilliant project, I love the project,” Hoopingarnertold WEHOville. “I was voting no on pushing it through with the language that didn’t protect the neighbor.”

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