Planning Commission eyes changes to West Hollywood West rules

The Planning Commission on Thursday reviewed a plan by City Hall to reboot the provisions of the West Hollywood West Neighborhood Overlay District, which sets very specific — or overly strict, as some might say — rules for homeowners in the neighborhood.

The district was instituted in 2014 with the aim of “preserving the unique physical character of the West Hollywood West residential neighborhood through architecture and design guidelines created collaboratively by the City and West Hollywood West residents,” according to the staff report.

In response to the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s recent push to remove barriers for residential development in response to the housing crisis, City Hall is looking to re-write the district’s rulebook to focus on more objective goals, rather than the subjective design-focused goals it now pursues.

The proposal includes the following regulations:

Maximum Dwelling Unit Floor Area

This Zone Text Amendment proposes to add to the current 0.5 floor area ratio (FAR) a second criterion for a maximum dwelling unit floor area of 2,000 square feet for lots 4,000 square feet or less and 2,500 square feet for lots greater than 4,000 square feet, whichever is less between the FAR and maximum floor area. In addition, staff also proposes to establish a maximum frontage of forty (40) linear feet along the public right of way. This will prevent a building that spans across the frontage of multiple merged property lines.

Soil Permeability

A minimum of 40% of the driveway surface and 50% of all required setbacks and yards shall be required to be fully permeable. Additionally, synthetic (or artificial) turf will be discouraged but not completely disallowed.

Driveway Visibility

Landscaped walls and other such garden perimeter features shall not be permitted if either visibility of the sidewalk from the view of a motorist on private property or visibility of the driveway from the view of a pedestrian in the public right-of-way is impeded. The maximum height limit for fences, walls, or solid vegetation will be reduced within six feet of the front yard corners at the public right-of-way to ensure from the property for driveway visibility upon exiting and to support visibility for first responders.

Exterior Lighting

Downlights mounted greater than nine feet above grade shall be spaced at least ten feet apart and light
sources shall be shielded from adjacent properties and the public right-of way.

Acoustic Trespass

Sump pumps and pool motors must be enclosed on all sides to buffer sound. All air conditioning units must be quiet-type condensing units operating within a decibel range that does not exceed 60 decibels (db).

Roof Design

The new standard decreases height limits for flat-roofed buildings from 25-feet to 22-feet and maintains the 25-foot average for sloping roofs.

Carports and Porte Cocheres

Carports will be required to have two fully unenclosed sides. A structure with three or more enclosed sides will be classified as a garage, the area of which will be included in FAR calculation. Porte cocheres (or drive-through
passageways) would be advised to have vegetative roofs as a means to add green space and support the city’s CAAP.

Basements

Establish a maximum floor area of 400 square feet as well as encourage more utilitarian uses. Cooking, bathing, and toilet facilities shall be permitted in basements, but this type of use would necessitate additional provisions for light and air as well as emergency egress.

Exterior Finish

Must be carbon neutral, durable, and low-maintenance materials such as, but not limited to, brick, clay tile, natural stones, terra cotta, FSC woods, cast-in-place concrete, CMU, and recycled metals.

Public comment on the revisions was skeptical.

“The proposed changes are a violation on property rights,” wrote Erald Sejdini. “Hedges, basements, and stucco? What’s next, address number font? In all seriousness, it feels that West Hollywood is taking steps backwards and not heading into the future.”

In light of recent news about the effects of dewatering WeHo’s aquifer, many questioned whether the city should allow basements or subterranean parking at all

“Anyone proposing the allowance of these basements has a myopic penny wise-pound foolish view that doesn’t reflect the dire reality of the situation. In summary, allowing basements OF ANY SIZE will cause a constant dewatering
which will cause unstable foundations and cracks that will jeopardize our homes and their future value,” Ignacio Darnaude wrote.

“I think the City Council should know that the Planning Commission has expressed concern about dewatering and the impact, the cumulative impact that it’s having in our community, because this problem goes beyond West Hollywood West, it applies throughout the entire city, in particular to those commercial and mixed-use projects,” Commissioner David Gregoire said.

The Commission voted to continue the item to a date uncertain.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
About Brandon Garcia
Brandon Garcia is editor of WEHOville. He oversees the website's editorial direction and creates original content such as news reports, photo and video features, digital art work and advertisements. A native of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, he now lives in WeHo and is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. @brandoninthebubble on Instagram

View All Articles

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

37 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

In an op-ed this week about the connection to basements and dewatering it appeared that the real problem was not basements but the city over-pumping water from beneath the surface. So, which is it? Let’s stop the narrative of basements being a problem if it’s not true and let’s expose the city for their irresponsibility.

No Logic in Planning Dept.
No Logic in Planning Dept.
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

Logic does not exist to any extent in the planning department. Planners are largely and historically biased towards developers and feel compelled to scrutinize individual property owners to the nth degree.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

If people’s homes are being destroyed by the city over-pumping water I don’t know why they aren’t all over this to stop the practice and to make the city liable!

No Logic in Planning Dept.
No Logic in Planning Dept.
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

The city did not send notices or publish notices and information in advance to the entire West Hollywood West section. Several speakers indicated they heard about the meeting as the last moment. Not good for the city!🙄

Eric
Eric
1 month ago

Why was only WH West Assoc allowed to weigh in on this? What is only happening to WeHo, it’s just crazy.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

There was a wide divergence in opinion among the West Hollywood West residents who appeared to testify at the Planning Commission. But a recurring theme was the public’s sense that this process, that dragged out over three years and was often conducted virtually, did not proactively engage the residents. I believe that when issues are clearly going have substantial impact, the City can go beyond the legal minimum when it comes to contacting and engaging the public.

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Steve, you make so much sense these days and for sure would be happy to have you on council, but really can’t understand how you ever wrote that defund op Ed. Do you just sway with the wind, or are you someone that we can for sure trust?

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric

Hey Eric, I did not claim papal infallibility. Sometimes things that seem like good ideas don’t pan out with reality and you need to learn to roll with the reality. But you did not have to be a rocket scientist to know that cutting ten deputies was not going to make West Hollywood safer.

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Thanks Steve, I do understand, eventhough I think one would have to have been out of their mind, even at that time to ever think cutting/defunding would be a viable option. Like I said, I would be happy to have you on council, so good luck and thanks for engaging here on Wehoville.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric

Thanks; I think it is good that folks like you are not afraid to ask tough questions. But you are asking honest questions, not playing “gottcha”.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Yes, it is not a large neighborhood. They should’ve sent out a mailer to each and every address in the area. It wouldn’t even have cost that much.

:dpb
:dpb
1 month ago

This is ridiculous. These wanna be bureaucrats are significantly over reaching. What are their qualifications to serve on this commission? Are they homeowners in Weho? When did West Hollywood West become green-belt community? So, West Hollywood homeowners are now going the way of West Hollywood business owners. It’s open season on both. Our city has become a Sh-t Show. Between crime and this type of bureaucratic crap, house prices will fall. Why pay $2M for a two bedroom, one bath cottage you can’t make your own and can’t walk the neighborhood in. This council and these commissions have reduced life… Read more »

David Abrams
David Abrams
1 month ago

Also, how about allowing more home to be built on the small lots (not less), so people are naturally discouraged from assembling lots to build a home large enough for their needs…

David Abrams
David Abrams
1 month ago

So, can’t have hardscaped driveways and side set-backs, or even artificial turf, but if you plant anything in the required permeable areas you’ll be penalized if you have to water them… So it’s supposed to be just dirt?

Where do these geniuses come up with this stuff?

Improper Noticing
Improper Noticing
1 month ago

Very interesting discussion last evening. Great concern that the entire WHWest community was not noticed, only members of WHWRA, a well meaning but somewhat isolated group if they truly care about all members of their community. Given the amount of work expended by staff, the City could have also provided sufficient notice plus informative articles in Wehoville & Beverly Press. Initially the Design Guidelines were to be extended in some iteration to Norma Triangle and beyond but did not occur. Several years ago in an effort to initiate and/or reinforce residential standards on the Eastside, the concept was poorly explained… Read more »

Toms
Toms
1 month ago

Insane overreach to property owners

Weho Mary!
Weho Mary!
1 month ago
Reply to  Toms

I don’t think it’s overreach, it’s necessary to have standards in how we build. I invite you to take a tour of Hesperia, CA to find out what happens when there aren’t any standards. Is that what you want? By the way, these standards are nothing compared to the CA Energy Code, CA Green Building Standard Code, etc. Those are a nightmare, and at times, vague. See for yourself:

https://up.codes/viewer/california/ca-green-code-2019

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  Weho Mary!

It’s complete overreach. Outrageous that there are even comments like yours in support of this.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric

Here’s another idea, why don’t you take a drive up to Barstow, CA, and see what a lack of planning regulations looks like.

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

Mary, the new homes that have been built have revived the area. I like them, I wish I could afford one and have a nice big basement. Old falling apart cottages from 1920 don’t do it for me.

TomS
TomS
1 month ago
Reply to  Weho Mary!

Spent much time at the deep creek hit springs. Let me say this Right now we have something in place that dies not need changing these are unnecessary and more costly to property owners.
It is overreach to over burden people.
Don’t forget whst rolls down hill

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  TomS

Correct. It’s absolute BS.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
1 month ago
Reply to  TomS

Deep Creek Hot Springs? Another area that could have used more regulations, but is now littered with garbage, including toilet paper and Kotex pads, and the water has increasingly high levels of E. coli.

Last edited 1 month ago by WeHo Mary!
No Logic in Planning Dept.
No Logic in Planning Dept.
1 month ago
Reply to  Weho Mary!

The planning department is typically irrational and illogical subsequently without any idea of sound design, the latest guidelines appear as overreach. The planners operate in theory rather than logic and sensibility.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
1 month ago

What’s wrong with a visibility triangle? How is that overreach? Some things help protect property values, like not allowing people to cover their yards with concrete. Why would you have a problem with that? What’s wrong with limiting what types of materials people use? Again, what’s wrong with protecting property values?

No Logic in Planning Dept.
No Logic in Planning Dept.
1 month ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

It appears that you don’t understand the breath and sequencing of these measures. Home owners need to be included in the planning not be surprised by it when it is presented to Planning Commission. Some residents were included by the nature of their association but many were not. Inclusive means inclusive with every address being notified not just the WHW Residents Association.

Weho Mary!
Weho Mary!
1 month ago

It’s my PDC obsessed friend, how nice! Your response indicates that you’ve never had any interactions with Planning, nor do you understand the intentions of these regulations. I would love it if you went through each of revisions to existing regulations (really nothing new here!), and explicitly tell everyone why these have a negative impact to the City. If you can actually do this, I’ll buy you a coffee at the coffee establishment of your choice!

Thanks But No Thanks
Thanks But No Thanks
1 month ago
Reply to  Weho Mary!

No one is obsessed with the PDC as you state. You throw out irrational ideas but don’t seem to have anything credible to offer. No understanding of design standards, no understanding of context actually no understanding of what constitutes a well planned community. Folks in the 20’s and 30’s did an exceptional job but later generations were unable to follow or update with appreciable integrity. In the last 30 years despite the city’s stated respect for historical structures and neighborhoods they were remiss in hiring someone with the knowledge and understanding of how to accomplish growth. It’s a mess. And… Read more »

Weho Mary!
Weho Mary!
1 month ago

You didn’t complete your assignment, so no coffee for you. Sad!

Ham
Ham
1 month ago

Look at all these ridiculous rules.

Michael on Havenhurst Drive
Michael on Havenhurst Drive
1 month ago

The planning commission. What a joke! Just looking and listening to them is a sure sign to avoid them like monkeypox. Nazicrats. The economic condition of this country under the Biden crime family may not be the best time to dictate home building ideas. Who’s going to buy them? Of course the planning commission is probably just a front for West Hollywood City Hall bureaucrats who couldn’t survive in the real world. They’re all overpaid. They don’t even live here.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael on Havenhurst Drive
WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
1 month ago

Here’s another thing that should be implemented, reduce the allowable height for fences and hedges along the public right-of-way, from yard, or however you want to say it, to 4’. Every time someone buys an existing house, they immediately plant a big hedge or construct a fence. This is a terrible idea since it eliminates defensible space in front of the house. If someone is following you into your house, or breaking in, no one will see, and you can’t see what’s going on at the sidewalk from inside the house. It also sends the message that you don’t want… Read more »

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

Lets just have no fence so that the homeless can set up shop with out any hassle. Your comment is ridiculous. If anything ,fence height should be increased with a City that has zero ability to protect its people.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric

It’s actually safer to have a low fence, rather than a high fence, or no fence. Many studies over decades prove this as a component of what’s called “defensible space” and law enforcement would also agree.

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

Ok great, let’s leave it to each individual to decide what they feel safer with. You may like low or no fences, I want the opposite. We should both be allowed to do what we feel fit

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
1 month ago

Where’s all of the WATER coming from for these new units????

37
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x