Life in the WeHo construction zone

I went out to the driveway Tuesday to retrieve my morning newspaper. I noticed a man standing beside a flatbed truck parked across a driveway on the other side of the street. He was preparing to enter the lot there where some serious construction activity has been taking place.

I was reminded that, in days not too far behind us, a small house could be built with a couple loads of lumber, three or four carpenters, a plumber, an electrician and assorted other tradesmen. “Not so today”, replied  the standing man when I asked him if a pile driver, a ten-ton front loader and other assorted diesel powered machines were really necessary to erect a building (of yet unknown design or proportions) on a residential small lot which measured about 40′ X 145′. He further assured me that this would be the standard for buildings in this area of high water table. I told him that I thought it seemed to be overkill. 

He smiled, opened the enclosure which surrounded the site and disappeared inside.  For the better part of three weeks we have heard – and sometimes felt – the impact of the pile driver which towers thirty feet over the small lot and is moved about on treads from one spot to another to set the piles. The front loader also moves about on treads.Beside the noise and diesel exhaust from those machines and the occasional cement mixer truck, the turned up earth has spread sust over most of the block, the street is sometimes impassable due to parked trucks and any guest parking is sparse due to the workers’ vehicles. The arrival of these machines a few weeks ago made quite an impact on the neighborhood  Is this really the current practice for building in  WEHO West – and East?

That question was answered the next day during a conversation with a Code Compliance officer easily recognized in his natty olive drab jersey emblazoned with a large golden star (badge) and other information. He confirmed that we would see more of it, especially as the number of two-story “box” houses seem to be the next wave of replacement for the older, 1920s an 30s frame houses, those often with a lot of individual character and charm. Change, of course. Well, the officer was on the street to deal with a number of code infractions by the construction crews. He said he had visited this site several times and said “they seem not to care about the fines”.

As I watched the site activity I thought about the Mayor’s 2045Plan and that there is much to do to alter any construction trade practices to accommodate the Plan. Today, we were treated to the removal of the pile driver. Our narrow little street was hardly the place to effect such a move, but it was done within an hour.  The pile driver tracked out onto the street and a waiting rig backed its trailer to the driver which then crept onto the trailer. Meanwhile traffic still backed up in both directions waiting for an opening.  The city told us not long ago that we see a minimum of 300 vehicles per day. 

At the far end of the street another construction site containing the skeleton of an older house in the process of “rehabilitation”. No need here for a pile driver, just a few carpenters.

If the construction process noted above is to be repeated in our cramped residential streets, I have some suggestions which might appease residents, the city and the constructors. First, residents should be advised in advance of the movement of heavy equipment in their neighborhood. Many will want to move their cars to safer ground. Second, the street should be blocked off during the move and city traffic officers should supervise the placement of barricades, warning signs and the use of the construction company’s clearly visible “walkers”, those walking beside and in front of the equipment to prevent problems. And, when the move is over, to supervise the re-opening of the street.The pile driver on its transporter measured approximately 70 feet. Not easily maneuvered in this part of town.

Change is inevitable and never more both a threat and an opportunity. We are under the spell of that ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Climate change is here and affecting ever human endeavor, now giving us not much time to learn how to adapt. The tale above is but one item to consider for our changing future. I will have more on tghis subject later.

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TomSmart
TomSmart
1 month ago

Sounds like a war zone. WEHO city hall should definitely make changes to mitigate this mess.

anonymous
anonymous
1 month ago

8899 beverly…nuff said

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michaelz
michaelz
1 month ago

so true….Thank you Carl….
These are not friendly neighbors…

:dpb
:dpb
1 month ago

Thank you for your article. I live at Ramage St. between Keith St. and Santa Monica Blvd. We are on month 19 (yes, construction began the first day of covid lockdown, March 15, 2020) of a condo/apartment/business/dining monstrosity that is yet to have walls let alone a completion date. I understand all too well the activity that disturbs normal life, leaves dents and debris on residents cars. Negates all resident parking, attracts homeless to break into the port-a-potties and to bathe in the covid hand washing stations, to clog the small street with 18 wheeler equipment trucks, to have power… Read more »

Manny
Manny
1 month ago

The primary reason for all this heavy equipment and chaos on our residential streets is due to the construction of 2500sf basements with 10 foot ceilings that in essence creates a three story house (the first story being subterranean) In retrospect, the Weho West Overlay Zone established 7 years ago should have only allowed for 500sf of subterranean space as did the Norma Trangle Overlay Zone established a couple of years later. We could only wish that the picture in this article was taken in the neighborhood mentioned. It wasn’t. In a typical 4-5,000sf Weho SFH lot there is no… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Manny

I will remind you that I helped enact a neighborhood preservation program that limited new development in West Hollywood West to a percent of the FAR (floor area ratio); years later staff took it upon itself to promote and approve basements which opened the door to larger development. Now you are experiencing the result.

Ethical Development
Ethical Development
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Do you recall the year you helped enact the neighborhood preservation program and when Planning Staff promoted and approved the basements for larger development? Did staff make this adjustment while WHW was deliberating and deciding neighborhood design/development guidelines? Additionally, these guidelines were to be extended to other sections of West Hollywood but for some reason never activated. There appears to be something wrong with this series of events.

Manny
Manny
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

I was not aware of the preservation program. Before my time, but thank you. I do know that 10 years ago when the WHW Overlay was first being proposed, there were no massive basements being built. It was unfathomable that anyone would want to do such a thing, and there may have been some on the working group who didn’t want that option eliminated. The WHW Overlay Zone is up for a review and update. Time to make a change.

Responsibility
Responsibility
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

So what was this preservation program you mentioned? Was never aware of it.

agag
agag
1 month ago
Reply to  Manny

Here’s a photo taken at 8804 Rosewood at Robertson (behind Petrossian) using similar equipment.

8804 Rosewood.jpg
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