Council hits the brakes on controversial co-living apartments

A hotly contested co-living apartment building was on the verge of being approved by City Council as they met Monday night, but a last-minute substitute motion by Councilmember John Erickson sent the project back to the drawing board. 

Developers of the northwest corner of Fountain and Fairfax had already (narrowly) secured the greenlight from WeHo’s Planning Commission to build a five-story complex with 18 “dwelling units” — a term which disguised the fact that there were actually 73 leasable rooms in the plans, according to opponents of the project, who appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to City Council.

Each so-called “dwelling unit” is a cluster of four or five bedrooms. Every bedroom has a private bathroom, but each cluster of bedrooms shares a single kitchen, living room, dining room and laundry space. Each bedroom is leased separately to a single individual. The building will also have three affordable one-bedroom units.

The project was designed to take advantage of the State of California’s density bonus law, which allows for a 50 percent bonus of up to six units in exchange for providing the affordable housing units. 

Councilmembers sympathized with a myriad of complaints in the appeal — 30 parking spots for more than 70 potential residents, traffic issues and particularly the Planning Department’s handling of the affordable units, and the limited number of residents who would benefit from them. 

“We don’t have people on our list who have families who may need a second bedroom or a third bedroom, if Grandma is there, too?” Mayor Lauren Meister.  “Can you explain to me why three one-bedroom units were decided upon versus two-, three- and four bedrooms to be comparable to the four- and five-bedroom units?”

“I’m very concerned about limiting the number of people per bedroom,” Councilmember John D’Amico said. “If someone gets pregnant or adopts a child, they’re basically evicting themselves. If someone falls in love, they’re basically evicting themselves.”

As unhappy as they were with the project, they apparently saw no errors in the Planning Commission’s decision and therefore no reason to approve the appeal.

“I have to say this is a particular low point,” said D’Amico, motioning to deny the appeal. “We’re not getting 11 bedrooms for people who need housing. The applicant came forward offering us more bedrooms. Instead of turning around and saying, ‘Sure, give us five bedroom units,’ we fumbled. I’m just very disappointed in our department.”

As they were prepared to vote, Councilmember Erickson made a last-minute substitute motion based on the fact that all the affordable units were clustered together on the ground floor.

“I am really struggling with the clustering of the affordable units on the ground floor,” Erickson said. “I believe inclusionary housing units are supposed to be dispersed throughout the project” and should be similar in size to the clustered, non-affordable units.

His motion directed the Planning Department to reconfigure the plans to de-cluster the units and possibly increase the number of affordable housing units and/or bedrooms. 

The motion was approved 4-1 by the Council, with Councilmember Lindsey Horvath voting no.

The project will return to City Council at a future date.

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Lester
Lester
9 months ago

This is incredibly short sighted by this aging city council. The people on this board should ask one person under 25 what their needs are, and they will tell you a small room in a job rich area, walking distance to amenities and near transit—which this location has. This is why we are in a housing crisis.

Don S
Don S
9 months ago
Reply to  Lester

110% right

Common is common.
Common is common.
9 months ago
Reply to  Lester

Unfortunately, no. Those were conditions that college students lived in. One theoretically advances to the adult stage of life and accepts responsibility. This architect/developer scheme extends the frat house//college firm mindset rather than what most have previously accepted in the live evolution. The architect/developer scheme is ready to hatch an exponential portfolio of replicant designs which add little to the community and $$$$$ to their profitability visual opportunistic blemishes on the landscape. WeHo and the design community can do much better. After all Common is common…uninspiring in many ways.

Dude Kembro
9 months ago

Would that more Boomers and aging Xers would accept responsibility for their failed policies which have harmed American communities, like this out-of-touch NIMBY mindset that prevents housing density and keeps the US in the 20th century. In fact, those who eschew the false notion that everyone wants to live in a McMansion as an adult are accepting responsibility. The immature are those who accept clown statements from city council like, “We should be demanding 5 bedroom apartments in West Hollywood” (has the usually-sharp D’Amico lost it?). Americans need to get out of the bubble and travel to some of the… Read more »

Common is common
Common is common
9 months ago
Reply to  Dude Kembro

Unfortunately your information appears skewed and you persist in comparing apples with oranger. Berlin is a city with which I am very familiar as are other European cities that I travel to for business and pleasure. They have an entirely different infrastructure, educational structure and sense of health, healthcare and healthcare and evolution of same. You could travel as far as the east coast to view successful communities and cities that have evolved in line with a high quality of life.

Dude Kembro
9 months ago

Yes, I’m well aware Berliners have a different approach to quality of life investments in universal healthcare, affordable education, and housing density. There approach is progressive because it’s rooted in pragmatism, long-term results, and the common good. That’s why they and much of Europe as a relatively high standard of living. The approach in West Hollywood, as in much of America, is to talk a big game then keep up the same old failed status quo, with selfish NIMBYism and outdated models. That’s why America is increasingly looking like a economically-stratified, Medieval failure. That’s precisely the point I made, and… Read more »

Common is common
Common is common
9 months ago
Reply to  Dude Kembro

You seem comfortable with broad generalizations which don’t seem realistic according with your presumed level of expertise. Your limited scope loves to generalize about presumed Nimbys, a convenient phrase when lacking credible points.

Dancing in the rain
Dancing in the rain
9 months ago
Reply to  Dude Kembro

I couldn’t have agreed more. The Nimbys in town led by the current Mayor are precisely why we have the lack of affordable housing and no way out of it. The incompetent of these people, including councilmen Erickson and Sepi) who don’t understand anything but same old aged status quo and frivolous lawsuits just to stop the process and appeal to their old base has 100% of the blame. I really hope this project gets approved. Our council can’t be that out of touch. Unfortunately they are. Shame on us though for voting them in. Time to vote them out.

Dancing in the rain
Dancing in the rain
9 months ago

Common – what you are lacking is common sense. Lol.

carleton cronin
carleton cronin
9 months ago

Co-living is not a new idea as it was popular in several Eastern cities after the Great Depression when more single people moved to those cities. It is most certainly a housing format of the near future as density rises in urban spaces. and the cost of apartments goes beyond individuals’ ability to afford. WEHO’s large hospitality trade’s employees will want to live closer to their work, also.

Hoho WeHo
Hoho WeHo
9 months ago

Unfortunately our city council is stuck in the 80s. What would you expect with a NIMBY in charge as Mayor? She’ll say no everything and anything and push others to do the same. She’s useless. Co-living is the future of affordable housing. They have over 7,000 units in construction in Miami alone. We can’t even approve one bedroom in this town. 🤦‍♂️

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
9 months ago

Why don’t they construct a building of single apartments, each with their own bath and kitchenette? All the units would be affordable and in a good location.

WehoFan
WehoFan
9 months ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

soviet union housing.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
9 months ago
Reply to  WehoFan

To the contrary, it is capitalism meeting a need that the market calls for.

Last edited 9 months ago by Gimmeabreak
Common is common.
Common is common.
9 months ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

Mr. Arch and Mr. Common insist on value engineering for more profit which results in less value to the community.

Dude Kembro
9 months ago

What we expect to hear from someone who thinks NIMBYism causing unaffordable housing causing homelessness causing blight and crime adds value to the community.

Don S
Don S
9 months ago

Oh please. Name how to add value to the community? You just seem you lack any common sense let alone knowledge. Go away

Common is common
Common is common
9 months ago
Reply to  Don S

Please tell us what value you have added to the community.

Common is common
Common is common
9 months ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

Yes, a reasonable idea or a variation of it.

Joel Roberts
7 months ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

What is “affordable “??

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
7 months ago
Reply to  Joel Roberts

The word “affordable” is relative depending on the location. Affordable for WeHo would be below market for WeHo, which may be expensive in Van Nuys.

Mike
Mike
9 months ago

They stopped it because they don’t want affordable housing because it attracts the element that they don’t like…but they want to give out Reparations

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
9 months ago

John D’amico now joins the list of the crazies. He thinks people whose family grows will be “self evicting”? There are some consequences for bad decisions in life. If you picked the wrong place to live, maybe it’s time to move where you can afford more space. I’m told it’s a lot cheaper to live in Barstow. Does john d’amico think the city should somehow guarantee enough housing for everyone, no matter how many more people they add to their family (by adoption, kids born, new spouses, grandma moving in, etc)? What if a millionaire living in a 6 bedroom… Read more »

John D’Amico
John D’Amico
9 months ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

WehoQueen. Seems you’re confusing a couple different concerns that were raised on Monday. 1. The city requires 20% of units in all new construction be affordable – how that was calculated and what the developer offered were in conflict. This looks to resolve that in favor of addl units if possible. 2 the developer was proposing to put all the affordable units in the same location instead of spreading them throughout the building as is our city’s policy. This would look to have those units spread across the building. 3. The developer had a limit of one person per bedroom… Read more »

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
9 months ago
Reply to  John D’Amico

John, your highly selective engagement in this forum is annoyingly simple and self-serving. You should have left after your pledge of two terms. You’ve sold out to the performative crowd when you had the opportunity to be a maverick in your sunset years on council.

Don S
Don S
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

So the only guy who can shed some lights on the inner workings of the council is now annoying? You NIMBYs never stop. Anyone that’s for development is annoying to you Alan. Lol

Don S
Don S
9 months ago
Reply to  John D’Amico

But John as a former council member you know the council’s job was not to decide the number of affordable units. That was already approved by the city staff and commissioners. Council can’t redo the plans but only agree that the commissioners broke no law in approving the project. That’s their only fiduciary duty at the meeting. They completely broke the rules. Think about it: if the developers file a lawsuit their first exhibit is the city of WeHo staff approval asking for 3 units. Their 2nd exhibit is the approval of the affordable units on the first floor and… Read more »

Let’s make WeHo affordable again
Let’s make WeHo affordable again
9 months ago
Reply to  John D’Amico

But John let’s not forget. Our Mayor who’s the number one NIMBY in town, didn’t even turn it down because of affordable units. She turned it down with the BS it was an SRO. THAT is illegal. Especially when her own attorney says it’s not an SRO. She completely disregarded the law and voted down the project. It was only after her nonsense that next council member said no because of cluster of affordable units. Why would our Mayor do this? Why would she have such low regard for the law? Her decision to say no to the project wasn’t… Read more »

WeHo observer
WeHo observer
9 months ago
Reply to  John D’Amico

John – we expect a lot more from a former city commissioner and a current council. You and your colleagues are completely wrong. Let me be quick: 1. The requirements for affordable housing is not as you are describing it. It actually is 20% of base density not 20% of units. You are incorrect. 2. What developer was proposing for the 3 affordable housing units was mandated and required by both your city staff and commissioners. The architect and the city staff both mentioned this but it was ignored by the council. 3. The limit of 1 person to each… Read more »

Jimmy
Jimmy
9 months ago

So the opening of the boondoggle that is West Hollywood Park is delayed AGAIN? These are OUR tax dollars, so anyone have any interest in finding out why it’s millions over budget and many months overdue??? Anyone going to get real answers? Last time, the excuse was that the city was being oh-so-diligent about playground inspections. Now what? Is this guy in over his head or what? Truth is deserved here.

Michael Dolan
Michael Dolan
9 months ago

I am witnessing the total and complete demise of West Hollywood. The Council has lost its way in almost every area. I am very disappointed and shocked by the scrapping of this project. Who are we (Weho), what do we stand for? For the past 35 years, Weho held true to the core founding principles and consistently progressed with the core values. Weho had become one extraordinary big little city. 2020 has seen Weho lose its way. I can’t believe the Council scrapped this co-living development. It’s about ‘housing’ stupid. Boy, that NIMBY handbook is cited on just about everything… Read more »

K in Weho
K in Weho
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael Dolan

They did not scrap it. Projects like this hit delays off and on, so this isn’t that big of a deal. They just sent it back to staff for a bit more work.

Dr. B
Dr. B
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael Dolan

This is the best article I’ve read on this forum. Our council doesn’t represent the citizens of WeHo. It’s become a tik for tak organization, constantly opposing anything new and progressive, knee jerk rejections and rules all in an attempt to appease their base. A base who is filled with the old residents who reject anything they don’t understand and statues quo of keeping things the good old way, keeping people of color away and providing no affordable housing All the while running on platforms of wanting it. When the Mayor with a checkered past becomes an advocate against development,… Read more »

For Real?
For Real?
9 months ago
Reply to  Dr. B

Who has the checkered past and what exactly is it?

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
9 months ago
Reply to  Dr. B

Keeping people of color away???? Where do you see that and how do they do it?

Eric Jon schmidt
Eric Jon schmidt
9 months ago

The City Council is between a rock and a hard place. They took bribes for this project, but now they realized they might be voted out for approving the project. Meanwhile, what are they doing about Public Safety in what is called the worst crime spree in years in LA (spilling into Weho)? A new movement of uncovering elected officials corruption is quickly approaching even small towns like Weho. I don’t know why people are complaining, you voted for these people, you knew what their history is and what their political aspirations are. Weho is just a place for elected… Read more »

K in Weho
K in Weho
9 months ago

You just love to make up things, don’t you? Bribes? You literally could be sued for that defamatory statement.

JF1
JF1
9 months ago

What they’re creating are tenements.

Shame on our city
Shame on our city
9 months ago

Absolute incompetence by our city council in not approving this project. Everyone at WeHo losses. There is nothing else to add

K in Weho
K in Weho
9 months ago

What? The project will be going forward, just with a reconfigured affordable housing unit layout. They just directed staff to handle a few issues.

Juan
Juan
9 months ago

Each so-called “dwelling unit” is a cluster of four or five bedrooms.
A F L O P H O U S E!
How about approval if the developer AND the City Council members who vote for it be made to live there for 2 years!

K in Weho
K in Weho
9 months ago
Reply to  Juan

You are free to live elsewhere if you don’t like it. There is literally no reason to get mad at this unless you are a NIMBY and someone who enjoys high rents by not building anything, ever.

Juan
Juan
8 months ago
Reply to  K in Weho

And you are FREE NOT to come here! No one guaranteed self-entitled queens to pack up and move some place they CANNOT afford! The stench of Me-ism because I want it, is beyond delusional.
Guess what, THAT is how the real grown up world operates. A little big pants advice, live within your budget, that is how real adults do it.

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