The 8500 Santa Monica project divided the Planning Commission at their meeting this week, narrowly squeaking through the approval process by a 3-2 vote. Chair Stacey Jones, Vice Chair Marquita Thomas and Commissioner Erick Matos voted in favor, while Commissioners Michael Lombardi and Kimberly Copeland voted against. Commissioner David Gregoire abstained from the vote.
The controversial project first generated headlines when former Planning Commission Chair Lynn Hoopingarner wrote an exhaustive review of the plans that brought to light various flaws that some commissioners agreed with.
“You know, I’m not even going to comment on if it’s a good project or not, it has housing and it’s meeting state law requirements,” Jones said. “And it’s meeting your local municipal code requirements. And that’s just the reality whether we love it or we hate it. That’s just the reality. So I’m very torn on this. This is not an easy decision.”
“I didn’t feel comfortable really that this project was quite ready for our recommendation,” Copeland said. “There were so many issues that needed fine-tuning, correcting, not quite not yet in compliance this, that, and the other to be done in plan check. And safety and security issues with the resident parking in the commercial garage, issues with the commercial frontage and pedestrian compatibility and so on, but the main concern to me is the questionable inclusion of those nearby parcels in the calculations, which absolutely affects everything else.”
“I will say that this project didn’t feel like it was very amenable to any change,” Thomas said. “So I think we kind of got what we got. I think there’s a lot of issues and I felt like there wasn’t even time today just to discuss those or that they would necessarily affect any change. There was extensive discussion about the ground level pedestrian experience. And that there is quite an opportunity on this project and it seemed like it was being missed. I still feel that way. I still feel there’s a lot of issues with the design of this project and a lot of them may stem from the challenges of the amount of square footage that has been pushed into a very small lot size by way of You know, a very non-functional lot around the corner that’s allowing for this additional square footage.”
The Planning Commission’s decision could be appealed. Appeals must be submitted within 10 calendar days from the state, to the city clerk’s office appeals, must be in writing and accompanied by the required fees. The city clerk’s office can provide appeal forms and information about waiver of fees.
5 affordable units is nearly 20% – that’s probably the most we can ever really hope for out of a market rate project. Glad to see something being done with this corner. Given the the parcels to the south are LA, it wouldn’t surprise me to see similar massing down La Cienega (the parcel directly to the south is clearly in some sort of redevelopment).
La Cienega was originally the Arts, Antiques & Design District. It also extended to Melrose and Melrose Place. Neither West Hollywood not Los Angeles ever made a move to preserve this as a historic district allowing mixed use development. Consequently, the proverbial eraser will decimate it all and replace it with soul-less max sq. footage showrooms selling nothing authentic. Ben Soleimani started this awful trend on Melrose claiming he wanted to create a High Road as is the case in the UK. Hard to reckon with his concept but it has spread like a virus. All those courtyards with charming… Read more »
Too bad I didn’t get to see that area when it was like that, sounds nice. Unfortunately, today’s West Hollywood is obsessed with instantly recognizable luxury brands and status symbols. Speaking of the UK, so many people here travel to London only to buy things at the same luxury shops we have here. Super crazy considering all of the shops, just a few streets away, where you can buy one of kind things found no where else. This makes me think that max sf showrooms are perfect for this town.
They are “faux luxury brands” bearing little resemblance to originals or authentic pieces. Dana Thomas explores the fallacy of the luxury brand business for those who care in BBC a superb book that takes one through the entire cycle.🙄
The book is” DELUXE How Luxury Lost Its Luster” by Dana Thomas.
The chart is incorrect. There was one abstention, not zero. In any event, the idea of including a narrow parcel that is not attached to the one on which the project will actually be constructed in order to justify fulfilling the common area requirement that allows the developer to be granted height and square footage concessions is outrageous. Moreover, it makes no sense to use that small non-adjoining parcel as a dog run, where animals will inevitably pee and poop, when it is immediately adjacent to the Tail o’ the Pup’s sit-down eating area. Relenting to a developer because it… Read more »
Let’s get past the dog run argument. Tail of The Pup supports the project. There is a wall between the dog run and the seating area. This isn’t a public dog park. There may be one or two dogs there at any given time. Most of the time it will be empty. The dog park at Weho Park hasn’t negatively effected Bottega Louie. There are other better reasons to not like this project. The dog run isn’t one of them.
Take a look at this “ high-end 800sq. ft apartment, more generous than a closet with a view overlooking a dog run. Parking on the lower level underneath the commercial parking, single elevator access after traveling through a warren of corridors to enter your award winning apartment. No security guard evident but plenty of noxious vehicle fumes from a main intersection”. The line forms to the left to receive your application. 🙄
Don’t worry, that bike shop will celebrate 20 years at that location before anything gets built.
I’m sure that lady who owns the bike shop will be get all kinds of special treatment to find a new, fancier location.
Good grief. Given Lynn’s observations about the failure of the project proposal to conform to standard meanings of the English language, this approval is a travesty.
It’s known as “Kabuki” or Word Salad” the preferred language within the Planning Department while convening with Developers and their team. TW the term of Kabuki I also widely used by highly respected journalists in DC, when commenting on the shenanigans there.
Fire the planning commission. Just bureaucratic nonsense.
Lynn Hoopingarner: Will you be appealing this project? PLEASE LET US KNOW!!
Anyone can appeal a project approval in the city. My comments are on the public record and available for anyone should they choose to appeal. I am doing my best to research projects as I would have done as a Commissioner and provide my comments to the public so that they may do their own research, make their own comments, and appeal decisions if they think it is appropriate.
I really appreciate your support as this is truly a labor of love for our city and VERY time consuming to research and prepare.
Drives me NUTS, Jones not commenting on the merits of this being a good or bad project! This is a very good project for our city that will define a dilapidated worn tenant of nothingness. It will create quality housing, compliant affordable housing, an excellent retail component, & new much needed life to a dead strip of C-rated real estate – It may not be perfect, however, be thankful for a most challenging long overdue welcomed anchoring piece of development IMO.
This project had an opportunity and implied obligation to be an outstanding project and contribute more meaningful quantity and quality of affordable housing. Why deliver C- work when one could deliver an A project?
Matt Lombardi and Kimberly Copeland were on the right track with their incisive questions, Chair Jones make no significant contribution . This evidently elicited some prickly reaction from the imperious Todd Elliott who is the standard bearer for less than excellent projects. He should know better but doesn’t.
IMO, it fulfilled many & most of its obligations architecturally, structurally, community housing initiatives, & all related compliances in attempting to deliver something of relative good quality @ a given cost – As noted in earlier comment, while not perfect, there’s always room for improvement, I see it all day every day with most new projects, residential or otherwise – Therefore, I’ll welcome a B++ project than no project @ all.
Having no idea what your values or standards are, there would seem to be no resolution to our conflicting comments. Out of curiosity, perhaps you could list 5 the most successful projects of the last 10years.
Completely agree with you. I would add that if citizens want better architecture, the City could streamline this approval process and eliminate the ambiguity. All of these things add cost to the project, and can ultimately take away from the design. It’s also frustrating when planning gives you several different answers and can’t make up its mind.
Why deliver C work? C work is the best anyone can afford, even developers, because it’s incredibly expensive to build anything. Especially when you have people like Lynn making them jump through all kinds of hoops over a calculation that added just 6,000 sf. The soft costs just keep rising, and you end up with mediocre design.
If developers would obtain the correct architect from the get go, they would not incur extraordinarily exponential costs of multiple consultants, attorneys, appeals and so on stretching a project into years and years. It can be done but if one is attempting to create an inappropriate project there are Lynn Hoopengarners and now Matt Lombardi’s and Kimberly Copelands that stand between the residents and such nonsense cleverly hidden in the staff report word salad.
Correct architect? That’s exactly the problem. It should be about complying with code in an objective way.
Good. I’m happy that the local version of big government didn’t get its way. I’m glad open issues will be worked out in plan check, because that’s where they should be resolved.
The public has no input in the jurisdiction of plan check. It is handled in the silo.
Exactly, nor should they. Although, you could argue that codes like the Energy Code or Cal Green Standards Code are heavily influenced by our elected officials. So, the public does have some input.
You no doubt witnessed the language of the silo on Thursday, largely “word salad” which is like a virus within the planning division.
Opening Day: August 2036! One bedrooms starting at $17,000/month.
LOL. So true.