West Hollywood Magazine

Concerned Residents Sound Off on Townscape Partners’ 8150 Sunset Blvd. Project

Thu, Sep 26, 2013   By Dan Watson, Executive Editor    16 Comments
8150 sunset meeting

Concerned residents listen to presentations from Townscape Partner’s representatives regarding the developer’s proposed project for 8150 Sunset Blvd. at Crescent Heights. (Photo by Dan Watson)

For more than two hours, Townscape Partners’ representatives heard from concerned community members Wednesday night regarding the developer’s plans to demolish the existing shopping center at 8150 Sunset Blvd. at Crescent Heights to build a mixed-use project.

More than 100 people, a majority West Hollywood residents, packed a meeting room at the Cinematographers Guild Building to hear presentations from Townscape representatives Gabe Kramer, a communications consultant for the project, and Edgar Khalatian, a lawyer with Paul Hastings, which is representing Townscape. Jonathan Brand, planning deputy for Los Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge, also spoke.

After short presentations, more than 30 concerned residents individually took to a microphone to give comments and pose questions, many of which the representatives said couldn’t be answered until a “draft environmental impact report” is done.

Residents aired a wide range of grievances with the project, including concerns over parking, rooftop sound, traffic, demolition of the Chase Bank building, which some see as having historical qualities, safety, the residential way of life being altered along Havenhurst Drive, and, above all, the 16-story height of the apartment building along Havenhurst.

Orrin Feldman, vice president of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council, which hosted the event, arranged for the meeting as a way to provide more information to the public before the Los Angeles Planning Department’s Oct. 2 “scoping meeting,” which allows for public comments on what should be studied in the draft environmental impact report (EIR). The scoping meeting will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Will and Ariel Durant Branch Library at 7140 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.

“Today’s like the first day of spring training,” Feldman said.

8150-sunset-blvd

The proposed project would span 2.56 acres and include 249 total apartment units, including 28 units for “very low income households” (which means for those who make no more than 15 percent of the LA County median income, which is around $56,000), and 111,000 square feet of commercial uses, which would include restaurants, a grocery store, retail shops, fitness center and bank.

Two apartment buildings have been proposed. One would be a 108-foot-high, nine-story apartment building along Crescent Heights. The second would be a 191-foot-high, 16-story apartment building along Havenhurst Drive. All 249 units would be rentals.

Due to how the property is zoned, there are no height restrictions for the apartment buildings. Nevertheless, many residents took issue with the height of the Havenhurst building, and requested it be significantly lowered.

In response to height concerns, Townscape has pointed to its car-free pedestrian plaza running the length of the project, 15-foot sidewalks and other open space that might be lost if it has to lower the buildings.

While LaBonge has yet to take a stance on the project pending results of the EIR and residents’ feedback, he has said in an LA Times article that he believes “it’s a little too high as proposed.”

Many residents are also worried about an increase in traffic.

A recent KPCC article pointed out that the Sunset-Crescent Heights intersection is ranked No. 24 on LA’s list of “High Pedestrian-Related Collision Intersections,” with 16 vehicle-pedestrian accidents over the last five years.

Townscape has emphasized that its plan would actually make the intersection safer for pedestrians, who currently have to cross two traffic islands on Crescent Heights. Townscape’s plan would incorporate the larger traffic island into its design, and keep a dedicated right-hand turn lane from Sunset onto Crescent Heights.

Some residents felt Townscape’s promotion of improved pedestrian safety was a red herring distracting residents from their real concern, increased traffic.

“Why buy a home in Mt. Olympus if I can’t get there?” said one resident, referring to the Laurel Canyon neighborhood just north of the project.

Others called the developer’s designs for the traffic island “disingenuous,” pointing out that the City of Los Angeles owns the island and must approve what the developers want to do with it.

“The city owns it and will continue to own it. Whatever will be put there, and we will work with the community on the best use, whether it’s a pocket park or public plaza, the city would own but the developer would be responsible for creating and upkeeping that space,” Kramer said.

Townscape also proposes a seven-level parking structure (three levels underground), which would include 849 parking spaces (295 for the residential units and 554 for commercial parking).

Responding to concerns over the amount of “compact” parking spaces included in the plans, Kramer pointed to the fact that all residential parking would be done by valet, and both valet and “valet assistance” will be offered for the commercial spots.

“It helps facilitate more cars in the structure,” Kramer said. “It’s more efficient.”

Loading and unloading of retail merchandise would be done “internally,” but an entrance for trucks would be included on the Havenhurst side of the project. Townscape has also said it is considering “cul-de-sac’ing” Havenhurst depending on the results of the EIR’s traffic study.

The proposed project would demolish the Chase Bank building, which the Los Angeles Conservancy considers historic. The building was formerly Lytton Center, a 1960 modern bank building distinguished by its zigzag folded plate roof.

“With its dramatic, folded plate concrete roof and glass-walled banking floor, the former Lytton Center was a striking departure from traditional bank design when it opened in 1960,” according to the Conservancy. “As financial institutions nationwide analyzed the need for progressive banking methods following World War II, architects responded by radically reinventing the bank’s form. Lytton Center typified these national postwar banking trends through its modern architectural design, transparency, and integrated art component, and is one of Los Angeles’ earliest remaining examples of this transformative shift in postwar-era bank design.”

“The conservancy believes the building might qualify for CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and that it needs to be analyzed,” Khalatian said. “The EIR will analyze the historic nature of the building and others in the area.”

At least one commenter also warned the representatives about the Hollywood fault, a 10-mile fracture that has sparked a battle over the Millennium Hollywood project. Developers say concerns over the fault are overblown, while residents, who are also opposed to the project’s scale, say it’s a major overlooked problem. While California law bans building directly on top of active earthquake faults capable of rupturing the surface, state geologists still haven’t mapped the Hollywood fault, leaving officials to rely on older, less-detailed maps.

The proposal requests four conditional use permits for restaurants, and the sale of alcohol from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., along with outdoor dining. A substantial amount of the outdoor dining would be on the buildings’ rooftops, prompting some residents in the nearby hills to worry about potential noise.

When pressed on whether nightclubs would be included in the plans, Townscape insisted it had no plans for including nightclubs, and that it would have needed to file an “entitlement” to include them.

Khalatian also said that no off-site signage (i.e., tall walls and billboards) would be on the property.

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About Dan Watson, Executive Editor

Dan Watson is Executive Editor at WEHOville.com. Previously, Dan served as editor-in-chief of USC's innovative digital website Neontommy.com, the nation's most widely trafficked college news site. He also had a cup of coffee at the Los Angeles Times as an associate producer. Prior to returning to school at USC to get a masters, Dan worked on California's beautiful Central Coast as an assistant sports editor. dan@wehoville.com

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16 Comments

  1. EmmaThu, Sep 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Personally I don’t see what the big deal is – Los Angeles and West Hollywood are starving for public space and parks, and it seems this project will have an abundance of that. I’d rather see projects built vertically that keep the ground floor open than developments that cover the entire square footage of the land. As a West Hollywood resident I also find it hard to express concerns over density as we live in one of the densest cities in country!

  2. TamberThu, Sep 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    There were many comments from nearby residents who felt that the developer’s presentation and responses to direct questions from the audience was often misleading, disingenuous and evasive. This project is far out of scale for the location and is not compatible with the current traffic/parking conditions and the needs and wishes of the community.

  3. Phil HammondThu, Sep 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    YES PLEASE: “Townscape has also said it is considering “cul-de-sac’ing” Havenhurst”.

    Aside from building a lower building this will be the one action that can help to preserve the most-affected immediate neighborhood.

  4. SHERRY SEXThu, Sep 26, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Personally, I don’t see how people don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not the difficult to see. Lots more congestion on Sunset and Crescent Heights, as well as on neighboring streets and in nearby neighborhoods. Not to mention obstructing views north of a Sunset, thus driving down property values, and so on. The solution is simple: build less, lower, nicer, and more expensive.

  5. Todd BiancoFri, Sep 27, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I’m glad to see the LA Conservancy talking about the Chase Bank building being historic. Since Chase took it over from WaMu, it has cleaned it up and looks terrific – a great example of Mid-Century Modern architecture that should be preserved. It would be great if this new project saved the building and incorporated it into the design. But I’m sure the developers will get their way and demolish another outstanding building.

    In return, that poor intersection will get a rather generic-looking mixed-use complex. The developers deliberately asked for taller buildings and more density than they knew they could get so when it’s reduced it will look like they made concessions to the NIMBYs.

    The whole idea of valet or “valet-assisted” parking is pretty ludicrous. Valets make sense for older buildings without adequate parking, but only serve to significantly increase the cost to visitors, residents and businesses. If all residential parking is by valet, that means the costs will be built into the high rents of the “luxury” apartments that will be indistinguishable from all other “luxury” apartments that have cropped up over the last decade. Why not just put a 849 space robogarage? I’m sure that wold be great, right?

  6. BillFri, Sep 27, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Welcome to the world of Garcetti’s vision for the future here and people fighting developers ruining our areas and communities. You will get help from no politico in this city..Tom LaBonge was also against Millennium skyscrapers but never showed up the day city council voted unanimously (even against caltrans and a state geologist begging them not to..who have all stepped in now..the State agencies and these dangerous skyscrpaer projects on an active fault line is on hold..the Mayor and city council actually were willing to risk everyone’s lives passing them..)..to approve. Sent a statement had he been there he would have voted no. He will speechify all aound town he is against the heights but let everyone down. Garcetti will have a ice job waiting for him when he is termed out..pay back for not voting against him and his big developer funders. Millennium bought garcetii. O’farrell(CD13) the plum committee Englander, Reyes, Huizar, a number of other councilmembers and their law firm also funded campaigns for years to assure Millennium would get approved. Not meetings, no matter how many people speak or protest, even if EMS tels them the projects will be dangerous and ‘people will die, fires will burn out of control, we cant get to people now’ Garcetti ignored that warning, and told people at a city hall hearing if they dont like it, move to another district. Nice guy..now he’s mayor. They will ignore every warning.. . Lawsuits, suing the corrupt city and developers.. are the only way to get any satisfaction as the politicos are so beholdin to these mega developers, and garcetti is their go to boy..supporting all of these massive high density horrors, ruining our city, they cant see straight and will screw you everytime. Join us, A coalition of ‘Communities United For Reasonable Development’ a coalition of over 40 organizations from Hollywod and all aross L.A.You voices will be heard..Please go to our website..StopTheMillenniumHollywood .org to read all the articles about our progress..about the battles with Millennium and Garcetti, about the lies and coverups to get these projects done at the cost of lives.. and the rest of the corrupt players who sold us and our city out for developer money. Please join us and help us fight them…Contact us, donate to the Legal Fund.. the Law suit will help you fight this project. This developer has most likely funded Garcetti and city council members who will be voting on these projects just as Millennium did.

  7. Philippe MoraFri, Sep 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    I’ve lived on Havenhurst since 1980. This proposed building on the Weho-LA border is an unmitigated disaster in every respect for the community. Its only being considered because it is on the LA side of the border, a trick in itself.

  8. EmmyFri, Sep 27, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    L.A. Conservancy was against Millennium skyscraper projects also. Concerns were expressed on their website about compromising the Capitol Records Building ( a cultural Historical Monument) building so close to it. Then they showed up at a hearing and withdrew their opposition and told everyone “we are working with Phil” (Phil Aarons head of Millennium) Another org. bought by Millennium. They will be against this project too, until the developer makes a nice chunk of change donation to them. The only way to fight them is law suits. They have probably taken very good are of the city politicians already. All of your meetings are for nought. They won’t change a thing. Garcetti is on a higher density, bigger taller skyscraper city .. getting rich and elected from developer money…He is ruining L.A. He should be recalled before it is too late and everyone looks Up at these monsters and asks ‘who did this?” He did, and the people, their property values, and the city got screwed..

  9. IsaiahFri, Sep 27, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    If I hear one more comment about an Earthquake Fault Im going to explode. People are way too paranoid.

  10. yourbeachwoodcanyonMon, Sep 30, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Seems like the domino affect. The City is busted for hiding vital information about the location of a fault line (Hollywood) under the Millennium project, then the project next door to Capitol Records gets appealed by a local group on the same basis, then the media gets wind of all this and the Blvd6200 project on Hollywood/Argyle gets outed for building live work space mere feet from that same darn fault (rubber stamped by the same darn Bldg & Safety) and then we hear about Century City tower smack dab on an active fault line and now this? The exposure started with the lawsuit to stop the Millennium Hollywood project. If the plaintiff wins, this will set president and give neighborhoods a legal authority to use when this kind of crap comes their way. If I were you, I would help fund this lawsuit and strengthen the ground we all stand on together: StopTheMillenniumHollywood.org

  11. HollywoodResidentMon, Sep 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    @ Isaiah. I know there has been a lot of Earthquake news recently. But if you had lived through the Slymar earthquake in 1972, the outcome of which created the faultline law, you would have experienced a dam almost bursting, creating the three day evacuation of 40,000 people, the death of 40 people buried in a hospital that was built on the fault, the collapse of another hospital, the National Guard being called in and fire fighting teams called in from outside states to put out fires created from power lines going down. There is a reason for caution. If we don’t remember history, we repeat it.

  12. georgeMon, Sep 30, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    The 8150 Sunset project is Millennium’s mini-me, with all the same problems:
    Over the Hollywood earthquake fault – check.
    Next to a congested major commuter traffic artery – check.
    Out of scale with the neighborhood – check.
    No height restriction in the zoning code – check.
    Inadequate fire, police and utility infrastructure – check.
    Same planning department employees who approved ie. Rubber stamped the Millennium EIR – check.
    Same City Council members who voted unanimously to approve Millennium – check.
    Next to Santa Monica Mountains canyon roads blocking emergency egress for 10s of thousands – check.
    Same failed Transit Oriented Development planning model – check.

    Residents around the 8150 Sunset project should look at the efforts of stopthemillenniumhollywood.org. It is the granddaddy of 58 similar projects in Hollywood either under construction or in various stages of development. The mayor and city council are advocates of turning Hollywood into a regional center that will spell doom for all the surrounding communities. If you want to save Hollywood from turning into sardine cans separated by ant trails contribute to the Stop the Millennium Hollywood lawsuit.

  13. recallthemallTue, Oct 01, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    O’Farrel led the city council to a unanimous vote to approve the dangerous Millennium projects, putting thousands upon thousands of lives at risk, ignoring the state geologist warnings about an active fault line,and caltrans warnings regarding ‘unsafe traffic conditions’ caused by Millennium projects..to not vote on Millennium projects yet..both wanting to do additional studies and testing….claiming he did his research and deemed the projects safe..This, his first day on city council.
    even fer all that ahs hit the fan since that dangerous vote, approving dangerous projects O’Farrell is still spewing his lies about these projects and arrogantly is still endorsing them. What will it take to stop him? To stop Garcetti who has sold everyone out and is on a developer binge?
    O’Farrell left out most of the important truths from his *interview in The Planning Report.
    Fact of the matter is..his campaign was funded by Millennium, and The Hollywood Chamber PAC (also funded by Millennium) and is doing developer bidding getting their dangerous projects approved. Just as Garcetti has done for years. Millennium helped both get elected.
    More reason why HE MUST BE RECALLED!
    There is no end to their lies to get their developer funders projects done. The WEHO project will be the same thing. They will not change one thing, if it went to city council now, they would unanimously pass it. They dont care about people’s lives and safety, why would they care about any community
    Visit stopthemillenniumhollywood.org and join the coalition of over 40 organizations, also ignored as you will be, who have joined together for truth and justice and protecting communities against these monsters.
    The Planning Report
    http://www.planningreport.com/2013/09/19/la-city-councilmember-mitch-ofarrell-tackles-la-river-supports-hollywoods-millennium
    Recall O’Farrell and Garcetti!

  14. KevinTue, Oct 01, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Isaiah..If you were anywhere near or around, or perhaps with family or friends touring Hollywood, and standing on the observation decks on Millennium’s Towers, to view the Hollywood sign that Millennium skyscrapers will be obstructing, if they are given the go ahead to build,..(oh, and BTW, you will be charged to view the Hollywood Sign from their observation decks), and the big one hits, yes, you will explode..along with everyone else in or around their towers.. It is so easy to be complacent and shrug the realities off, but if everyone did that, and left this in the L.A. politicos hands,these projects would have moved forward as so many projects in the area were given the green light, by Villaraigosa and Garcetti, without even having any seismic studies done.. on a known fault line…an active fault line… But thanks to some pretty dedicated communities from Hollywood to Brentwood to The Valley, communities that live in Hollywood and many that don’t, but work in it or have to drive through it, who took their lives in their own hands and out of the corrupt city politico’s and this developer’s, who found one cover up on top of another, and another and another, about the active fault line, at every city level, including by the new Mayor. Cover ups of important research, knowledge, and information, from state geologists, that the Plum Committee (Englander, Huizar and Reyes) all scoffed at when it was presented to them.. (all their campaigns were funded by Millennium) Maybe your life is just one of many that has been saved.
    Be bored, apathetic, disinterested..exactly what this Mayor and this City Council and this wealthy NYC developer were figuring Angelenos would all be…But now they are discovering..surprise, surprise… that most Angelenos are not as willing as you are to be stupid.

  15. Professor ShiversWed, Oct 02, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Yo Isaiah–StopTheMillenniumHollywood .org

  16. Nydia Van LeeuwenWed, Oct 09, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I missed the Oct. 2nd meeting…I would like to be involved in the process of opposing the consstruction of such a site………I am a resident of 90046…..

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