Co-living apartments get the all-clear from Council, but Mayor Meister still thinks it’s a mistake

The controversial co-living apartment project at Fairfax and Fountain crossed the final hurdle on its road to being built Tuesday night as City Council in a 4-1 vote denied an appeal to stop it from proceeding.

Council first reviewed the appeal back in December and found enough merit in it to have developers make last-minute changes before Tuesday’s re-evaluation. 

The project drew intense opposition on a number of fronts.

The developers, represented at the meeting by Edward Levin of Levin-Morris Architects, described the building as having 17 “dwelling units” — which is not the same as individual apartments. The 17 dwelling units are actually 79 separately leasable rooms, each clustered in groups of four or five in order to share a single kitchen, living room, dining room and laundry space. 

While Levin trumpeted the building as avante-garde affordable housing, neighbors behind the appeal, along with many on City Council, instead saw a clumsy, disingenuous attempt 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.

The semantics confused and angered residents like Robert Smith, who lives in Spaulding Square.

“I’m offended by this bureaucratic conversation,” he said. “This whole project is so big and so dangerous that I don’t know how the conversation got this far. You can sit and watch absolute chaos — it’s a really dangerous corner. The only benefit is to those who profit. All this description of whether it’s an SRO or apartments, who’s going to be there, 10-foot-setback — I think that’s all just bullshit. You’re pigs to want to keep building this.”

The affordable housing units were originally clustered together instead of spread throughout the building, which led Councilmember John Erickson to pause the approval process in December. But while the alterations presented Tuesday night satisfied Erickson and the other three councilmembers, they did not persuade Mayor Lauren Meister, who sided with the appelants during the final vote.

“I’m not convinced by staff’s arguments,” she said. “Their responses do not prove that the project is not an SRO,” referring to a single-room occupancy unit, a designation which would have given the city much greater oversight of the project. 

“I agree that the parking allocated for 79 bedrooms, some of which might include two people, is insufficient,” she said.

The building will have only 32 parking spaces — 30 assigned to residents, and two spaces dedicated to offstreet delivery. Developers believe the future tenants will not necessarily be automobile owners, an idea ridiculed by opponents of the project.

“Where do we plan on putting those additional 40 vehicles?” asked Robert Chan, who lives nearby on Orange Grove.

“I agree that public safety is jeopardized by having ingress, egress and delivery drop off in a right turn lane of a major corridor,” Meister continued. 

“I agree that PC (Planning Commission) erred by legislating a new zoning category on the fly without design guidelines and without standards.”

Meister then assailed several of the rationales used to defend the project.

“The applicant has no right to tell the city what affordable rent should be, and the applicant’s ability or inability to profit off those affordable units is really not our problem. Further, the applicant doesn’t get to claim the affordable bedrooms are units in order to get higher rent yet claim that the rest of the project is comprised of households in order to have lower parking requirements.”

“I understand that my colleagues are going to vote for this without even hearing my comments,” she said in closing, “but I just want to make sure that it is on the record.”

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M M
2 months ago

Very Interesting that this property was just listed for almost 7 million dollars!! The existing owners paid almost 2 million which is the reason they were saying they could have affordable rents. Not anymore. This will be even worse than we thought. There is NO way that the new owners can keep rents low. This is beyond GREEDY!! I hope the City Council members that approved this nightmare scam realize what a huge mistake they made.

Mike Carter
Mike Carter
2 months ago

Congratulations to Mayor Meister and anyone else who found reason to object to this hot mess. Wait till unit B has five rooms, 5 kids, 5 dogs, five boyfriends/girlfriends, ten cars and five guns. Se la vie.

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris
2 months ago

A very bad idea.

JPeron
2 months ago

A good idea opposed by the privileged who can afford more. There also have to be more housing for those who don’t own cars. I took a car to the city and soon got rid of it as I found I didn’t need one, and when I did it was cheaper to rent one temporarily. Of course, those who are well off will whine.

KEITH
KEITH
2 months ago

I can’t wait for Election Day. Things are going to change in West Hollywood and many will get their ass kicked to the curb.

Chloe Ross
2 months ago

Another question – wtf is a “co-living” apartment. Another newspeak name for a flophouse???

jack and ennis twist
jack and ennis twist
2 months ago

WHAT A HORRIBLE DECISION- 32 parking spaces? IN THE CITY OF CARS AND DRIVERS??? A giant mistake indeed

Marc
Marc
2 months ago

The chazir builders will do well; the residents will suffer, Is Weho becoming LA?

Ernesto Sportello
Ernesto Sportello
2 months ago
Reply to  Marc

Weho has been way worse then LA for decades. A bougie overdeveloped hell hole that works hard to make life miserable for it’s residents.

Last edited 2 months ago by Ernesto Sportello
Jake Lee
Jake Lee
2 months ago

This building will be a Meth infested brothel, mark my words. Ed Buck would have had a field day in there once built, like a kid in a candy store…..

Randy
Randy
3 months ago

I live very close to the site, and think that parking could be a serious issue. They are treating a cluster of four one-bedroom units, as though they are one family unit. Unless I misunderstood the interpretation, and the presentation, which I did watch. Regardless, these “pod” units, each with their own bedroom and bathroom, could easily each count as one unit, even with a shared kitchen/living room, bringing the parking requirements to 39.5 (with the requirement of 0.5 per unit), at 79 units. They’ve allowed for 30 residential parking spaces, for 79 living spaces. I’m not worried about the… Read more »

Todd
Todd
3 months ago

I’m with Lauren Meister. This property is located at one of the most problematic, busy intersections in the City. Getting in or out, whether on Fairfax or Fountain, will be dangerous for residents, ride hailing drop-offs, delivery vehicles and normal traffic. I hope there is enough sidewalk on both sides (frontage on Fairfax and the side facing Fountain) for pedestrians. The crosswalks aren’t very safe either, particularly on that north/west corner. Drivers are distracted and the turns are tight. While the proposed configuration doesn’t bother me in the abstract, it will be interesting to see how it’s actually operated by… Read more »

Chloe Ross
2 months ago
Reply to  Todd

Listen to Lauren.

Justin
Justin
3 months ago

Don’t complain about homelessness and then fight increased housing supply. Does anyone here live in reality? We are going to need high density housing no matter what.

Randy
Randy
3 months ago
Reply to  Justin

Spot on. Complain if they do, complain if they do not.

close to home
close to home
3 months ago
Reply to  Justin

The homeless on the streets can’t afford to live in this building or anywhere. They need to be in mental institutions.

jack and ennis twist
jack and ennis twist
2 months ago
Reply to  close to home

what a sad heartless vulgar comment CLOSE OT HOME.

Ernesto Sportello
Ernesto Sportello
2 months ago
Reply to  close to home

Okay. Do you have room?

Frank
Frank
2 months ago
Reply to  close to home

my post exactly

Ernesto Sportello
Ernesto Sportello
2 months ago
Reply to  Justin

Make that high density AFFORDABLE housing and you might be into something.

Frank
Frank
2 months ago
Reply to  Justin

most homeless I see on the streets do NOT have the mental capacity or income to manage any sort of housing so increased housing supply solving homelessness is a myth

vote them out
vote them out
3 months ago

This is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s hard to believe that even one council member would vote for this horrible project. Some of them have been bribed and all of them must have been hit in the head at some point.

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