Planning Commission OKs apartment-to-condo conversion on West Side

The West Hollywood Planning Commission reviewed a proposal to convert a three-story, 21-unit apartment building on Cynthia Street into a condominium at their monthly meeting on Thursday.

The existing property was built in 1989 and is therefore not rent-stabilized, as the laws only apply to buildings constructed before 1979. Evictions are still protected and controlled by the City of West Hollywood.

The C-shaped property is located on the north side of Cynthia Street between Palm Avenue to the east and Larrabee Street to the west. The lot measures approximately 150 feet by 119 feet with an area of approximately 17,892 square feet.

The apartment-to-condo conversion process is rarely undertaken in WeHo, partly because of the very specific requirements developers have to meet.

The municipal code requires a condominium created through the conversion of existing residential units that were not subject to the city’s affordable housing requirements at the time of construction to set aside 20 percent of the unit count as affordable to very low, low, or moderate-income households for projects of 21 to 40 units. An Inclusionary Housing Agreement for four affordable units at the project was signed in 1989 and again in 2005. As part of this approval, the applicant will be required to sign a new tract map Inclusionary Housing Agreement to maintain the four affordable units and record a covenant guaranteeing the affordability of the rental units and waiving certain rights granted by state law.

The commissioners dug into the details of the plan.

“How are the units planning to be delivered for sale?” asked Commissioner Michael Lombardi. “Are they being renovated? What’s the the plan?”

“We basically would, before marketing, upgrade the units,” said applicant attorney Mark Egerman. “We currently have no immediate plans to move forward with a major upgrade; that is why we informed the staff that we will continue to operate the building as a multi-family residential unit for the forseeable future.”

A public comment by a woman who currently lives in the building concerned building repairs.

“It is certainly in our interest to maximize the development and make sure it’s in excellent condition at the time it’s marketed for sale,” Egerman said.

“I did want to find out if the city has plans to contract with Coalition for Economic Survival to help support the renters who may not quite understand what we talked about here tonight,” said Commissioner Marquita Thomas.

“We do actually have a contract currently with the Coalition for Economic Survival to provide tenants clinics specific to West Hollywood,” said City Attorney Jonathan Holub. Any tenant who has questions they can always contact the rent stabilization housing division to talk, but we often do refer folks to the CES clinic where licensed attorneys are volunteering to provide information and answer questions regarding the rights.”

After discussion, the Commission decided to approve the plan with a motion by Commissioner Rogerio Carvalheiro, seconded by Commissioner Thomas.

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