City Council denies appeal to 8850 Santa Monica project

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West Hollywood City Council denied an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the 8850 Santa Monica Blvd. development project at their meeting last night.

Councilmembers debated the changes to the project that have been made since it was reviewed by Planning Commission, and in the end decided those changes didn’t warrant the project being sent back for another review, or for a new project to be filed altogether.

“I don’t believe this is a new project that has to be refiled,” Councilmember John Heilman said. “When I look at the project, it’s essentially the same size. The same number of units that were approved at the planning commission. After some discussion, we got to the point that the unit size is are the same as was approved at the planning commission. And with the concession that’s been made tonight, it will be the same number of affordable units that were approved at the planning commission. So I don’t view this as a new project.”

Questions about the size and scale of the project and its impact on the community arose, as well as the project’s compliance with the city’s housing goals.

After a lengthy discussion, Council voted to uphold the Planning Commission’s decision with some modifications, including

● that the project exclude non-contiguous lots, and therefore should not be viewed as any precedent with respect to that issue

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● increasing on-site affordable units from four to five, consisting of three very-low income and two moderate-income units

“I’m really excited to see this moving forward tonight,” Councilmember Chelsea Byers said. “I think we should take it as a point of pride, too, that this is able to move through on no more than five meetings, as part of a housing process. It’s not often that that can happen.”

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David Abrams
David Abrams
10 months ago

Common sense decision. The city got additional benefits, additional housing stock, and did not set a new precedent re non contiguous lots.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
10 months ago

I didn’t understand the appellant’s strategy. An angry white male yelling, and calling half the people on the dais stupid isn’t going to get what he wants. I would stop listening immediately.

Bastian
Bastian
10 months ago

Of course the city council would rubber stamp it, look up campaign contributions yourself, especially newcomer Byers, it’s all unions and real estate interests. https://public.netfile.com/pub2/?AID=weho

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  Bastian

The appeal was a victory to the extent the developer was not able to use the non-contiguous lot in their density calculations and the City got 5 instead of four units. As the developer was essentially changing track and using state law to get what they needed/wanted, had the appeal been granted the project was likely to remain pretty much the same. As usual Lynn Hoopengarder did a great job and proved herself to be an incredible community resource in keeping the process honest.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

It was a good outcome overall, but as process goes, it ignored math. When staff was asked if it met the 20% threshold for changes that would trigger a do-over, staff simply answered no and that answer was accepted as gospel. A mathematical analysis would likely dispute that answer. Next time. Process matters.

Last edited 10 months ago by Alan Strasburg
Lynn Hoopingarner
Lynn Hoopingarner
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

This may shock you Alan but I actually DID do the math, spreadsheet and all.

  • Parcel size decreased 19%
  • Project SF increased 21%
  • FAR increased 50%
  • Affordable Housing (as proposed) decreased 20%
  • Common Open Space decreased 22%
Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
10 months ago

So one can legitimately question the veracity of the staff response? (Rhetorical question).

Mike
Mike
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

By the definition provided in state law (and as stated at the meeting), the 20% threshold applies only to a change in number of units or square footage. This project proposed the same number of units, and the same square footage. The 21% cited above is because the original PC proposal excluded certain areas from the FAR calculation as a requested concession for the affordable housing, even though the actual floor area was larger. As noted by staff at the time, this was a novel approach by the applicant, as most projects would just ask for additional FAR. Either way,… Read more »

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