Developer hires influential campaign managers to push 8850 Sunset project

The Draft EIR for 8850 Sunset includes a ‘community outreach team’

8850 Sunset Blvd., home of the Viper Room and years of rock n’ roll history, is about to get demolished. The new development includes 115 room 5-star hotel, 31 residences, 10 affordable housing units and a large ballroom that can host up to 350 guests.

The project will span the entire block of Sunset Blvd. from Larrabee to San Vicente. The draft EIR expects the item to come before the Planning Commission in October 2021 and anticipated construction to begin in the fall of 2022. The developer is Silvercreek Partners, owned by the Essig family.

The “Monster,” as some have called it, towers 15 stories above Sunset Blvd. and is expected to meet stiff opposition from residents. The total project is forecast to cost just shy of $500 million. To push the project through completion, the developer has contracted with three former West Hollywood City Council campaign managers.

The community outreach team includes:

  • Estevan Montemayor, Councilmember Horvath’s former campaign manager and current direct appointee to the Rent Stabilization Commission.
  • Barbera Grover, who previously ran the John Heilman, Abbe Land and Lindsey Horvath campaigns; and
  • Scott Schmidt, Lauren Meister’s campaign associate in her first race in 2015.

The 8850 Sunset Development is owned by the Essig family who have contributed to both Horvath’s and Erickson’s campaigns.

Jeff Seymour, a local lobbyist, represents Essig. Montemayor was the past president of CSW who made the decision to remove the gay pride parade and festival out of West Hollywood. Montemayor was also the Communications Director for Representative David Ryu who was defeated in the November 2020 election. Unemployed due to the election defeat, Montemayor is now a registered lobbyist with the City of West Hollywood while he is also serving as Horvath’s Rent Stabilization commissioner.

Barbara Grover is a past consultant for Lindsey Horvath, John Heilman and Abbe Land. She was a former partner with Parke Skeleton in Santa Monica, California. Skeleton and Grover ran the campaigns of Abbe Land and John Heilman for years. In 2019, Lindsey Horvath requested $15,000 from philanthropist Margot Siegel for a donation to SEE (Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs) to pay Barbara Grover to record West Hollywood’s history stories. In 2019, Barbara Grover also received $27,000 from a political action committee called West Hollywood United to Support Lindsey Horvath and John D’Amico.

In addition the developer hired Scott Schmidt, who served as Mayor Pro-Tem Meister’s campaign consultant in 2015. Schmidt was also part of the term-limits Measure C Outreach and has worked as a consultant on many issues in West Hollywood since 2015. Schmidt is not a registered lobbyist and has not worked on any political campaigns since the 2015 election.

The Ethics Reform Task Force met over a four year period from 2015-2019 and discussed limiting pay-for-play politics by restricting lobbying activities of former City Council members and their campaign managers. The proposals were eventually rejected.

The item is expected to come before the City Council in October. Upon approval construction is set to begin in late 2022 with a 2026 open date.

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Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
1 month ago

Thankfully there is so little traffic on & around that block of Sunset, and the Sunset, horn, Holloway intersection is probably the safest intersection in the Country.

Are the alleged “low income housing units” in the portions of the metal clad tower wit NO WINDOWS?

Are we now doing drug tests before INSANE comments made about this development? Or with pot being legal & sold in WeHo, ALL comments in favor of this project have “no drug/intoxication” checks before people who think this is a “Groovy” idea?

golden gate
golden gate
1 month ago

the blatant corruption contained in the facts of this article is disgusting. this is the reason why both my home town of West Hollywood & Los Angeles are an absolute wreck. Money Money Money. Forget everyone else, tear down all the houses, the businesses, forget it all in favor of money, power & greed. Shame Shame Shame.

Jason Alvarez
Jason Alvarez
1 month ago

Why bother hiring lobbysts? Developers practically own all the state’s politicians from the governor and legislature all the way down to the entire WEHO city council. If anybody thinks they have a say so in their communities, unless of course you’re a rich developer or run a real estate investment trust or Wall St hedgefirm that speculates in real estate, you’re sadly mistaken.

Jason Turner
1 month ago

My name is Jason Turner. My father bought the Turner’s Liquor in 1945 on 8850 Sunset. I took over in 1977. I saw a lot of history on the Sunset Strip as I was growing up. Those were fascinating times. Genuine! Not copies. It’s a shame to see the Sunset Strip decaying further into the Las Vegas Strip of Fantasy Land.

Critical Thinking
Critical Thinking
1 month ago

In a city that espouses welcoming and openness, this project design is an apt expression of its real self……Hostility and Hubris.

Roxann
Roxann
1 month ago

Excellent article! Thank you!

Norma Dismayed
Norma Dismayed
1 month ago

How long before we are completely boxed in by these brute ugly high rises stretching along La Brea-Beverly Blvd-Doheny-Sunset? Do us residents have any say?

Jason Alvarez
Jason Alvarez
1 month ago
Reply to  Norma Dismayed

 Do us residents have any say?”

The answer is frankly NO. You are powerless and have absolutely no say so whatsover. Face facts. Your bought and paid for politicians….all of them…do not answer to average residents like you and me.

Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason Alvarez

Vote? Well, have locals with local interests of the residents of weho on City Council?

:dpb
:dpb
1 month ago

WTF… “Esteban Montemayor is now a registered lobbyist with the City of West Hollywood while he is also serving as Horvath’s Rent Stabilization commissioner and is now working for the Essig family.”
Boss Hogg couldn’t have done it better. And the rest of the article… we’ll, let’s just hope there is remnants of the City of West Hollywood left recognizable after Horvath’s reign ends. This should all be illegal. And the building is gross. 🤮

Stephen
Stephen
1 month ago

This troublesome hotel project is merely a symptom of the real problem: our leaders being paid off to ignore us while letting wealthy developers rape our communities. Can we start talking about WeHo City Council campaign finance reform? As in: making it illegal for those running for our City Council to take any donations from real estate developers? It would be a fair, non-partisan rule. It would help curb the corruption of our City Council, which is what led to this Essig Family Monstrosity which will sour life for everyone living within a mile radius of its 8850 Sunset ground… Read more »

Sigh Who's Sane?
Sigh Who's Sane?
1 month ago

Wait a second. Esteban Montemayor is now a registered lobbyist with the City of West Hollywood while he is also serving as Horvath’s Rent Stabilization commissioner and is now working for the Essig family.
How is there NOT a conflict of interest here?

Stephen
Stephen
1 month ago

Agree, thank you – I forgot to include that in my own litany of complaints about this accident of urban planning

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
1 month ago

15 floors? Are you kidding? Pity anyone in the shadows of this monster. We should be down zoning both residential and commercial development. Let’s see how environmentally friendly Lynn Hoopingarner and the current planning team really are. Lynn, I am sure you are aware, if not please refer to studies that confirm how large construction impacts climate change-energy use, landfill waste, and ongoing demand for services.

Don S
Don S
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Buckley

Lol one NIMBY asking the NIMBY commissioner for help. Commissioner Lynn Hs sole fiduciary duty should be to ALL WEHO RESIDENTS not just the NIMBYS who live here. We will be watching her.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
1 month ago

Doesn’t the world have enough Thom Mayne buildings? As the “(w)rapper” by Eric Owen Moss rises in Culver City, I can’t help but wonder if anyone else is getting sick of these old white straight male SCI-Arc architects? These guys need to retire and let the more diverse younger generation (who is female, Black, Latinx, Asian, queer, etc.) have a chance.

Opportunistic Design
Opportunistic Design
1 month ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

Couldn’t agree more about Thom Mayne. Perhaps he is actually giving a big middle finger to West Hollywood by using these purloined concepts, because he thought he could get away with it in a city which lacks thoughtful and significant architectural projects but blindly welcomes opportunism.

Not sure I would agree with the “old white straight male” description but agree that the too tricky and tired ScI-Arc replicants endlessly produce facsimiles of forgettable structures

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