The West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously tonight to approve a 45-day moratorium on construction of new houses and second story additions or additions larger than 500 square feet to existing houses in the West Hollywood West neighborhood.
A two-story house now under construction at 8740 Dorrington Ave. in West Hollywood West by DD&Co. Enterprises of Beverly Hills, replacing a one-story Spanish colonial style house.
Representatives of the city’s Community Development Department said it’s unlikely that they will be able to consult with neighborhood residents and craft a “conservation overlay zone” to address concerns about the size and design of new houses in the neighborhood in only 45 days. However, under state law the City Council cannot declare a moratorium of more than 45 days without holding a public hearing on the subject first. The CDD staffers said it is likely they will return to the Council with a request for such a hearing and then a 12-month moratorium to give them time to work on the overlay zone.
Opponents of the moratorium said that restrictions on two-story houses and houses larger than the average home in the neighborhood didn’t make sense today, when many new homeowners are couples with children and that new houses today generally are larger than are the older houses in the neighborhood, many of which are two-bedroom, one-bath homes of 1,200 to 1,500 square feet. Supporters of the moratorium said they weren’t opposed to the modern design of the new houses, but that their large bulk and features such as balconies conflicted with the overall design and feel of the neighborhood.
While the council members supported the moratorium, Councilmembers John Heilman and John Duran said they thought community development staffers should be able to return to the council with a proposal to address concerns about the new houses in less than 12 months. Councilmember John D’Amico suggested the Council not enforce the moratorium on three new houses already under consideration for approval on Huntley Drive, but that the CDD work closely with the builders to encourage design that complements other houses in the neighborhood.
West Hollywood West, which is bounded by Melrose Avenue on the north, Doheny Drive on the west, Beverly Boulevard on the south and La Cienega Boulevard on the east, is dominated by single-family homes and duplexes. The overlay zone under discussion would be a modification of the citywide zoning code that would apply only to the West Hollywood West neighborhood.
“The West Hollywood West neighborhood is characterized by small lots with generally modest one-story traditional houses in a variety of styles,” said a CDD report to the Council. “One of the desirable characteristics of the neighborhood is its variety of form, style and texture.”
Construction of the large houses began in 2010, and applications to the city for new housing permits in the area have increased sharply The CDD said that while two applications were approved in 2010 and two in 2011, eight were approved in 2012, ten in 2013, and eight already are under consideration in the first two months of this year. “Almost all of the applications are similar in design and scale to each other,” the CDD report says.
Many of the applications for replacing one-story houses with two-story houses are coming from Beverly Hills-based real estate developers rather than residents or prospective residents of those homes. An example is DD & Co Enterprises, which is listed as the owner of 8740 Dorrington Ave., where it has demolished the existing house and has a new one under construction. David Akhtarzad , an owner of DD & Co. Enterprises, also is listed as the owner of 8830 Dorrington Ave., where permission to replace a one-story house with a two-story house has been granted. His company’s website identifies it as a real estate developer, in business since 2006, that concentrates on West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Real estate records show that its principals, who include Danniel Akhtarzad, have been involved in buying and selling dozens of houses in West Hollywood in recent years.
Tagged big box houses, conservation overlay zone, moratorium development, west hollywood west
Larry BlockMon, Mar 03, 2014 at 10:56 pm
Well.. they should have made this moratorium city wide in like zones. The council votes to support the moratorium in weho west but those builders are not going to close their doors.. they will just move one block north of melrose and start building in tri-west. or center city or the east side. Maybe we can have a moratorium on commercial construction along santa monica blvd.. but that might mean less money to the city council campaign coffers.. Seems like council like to vote to limit residents right to build but its a free for all on commercial developments.
Todd BiancoTue, Mar 04, 2014 at 7:47 am
@Larry Block I agree that the moratorium should have applied city-wide. Whether it’s West Hollywood-West, Tri-West, the Normal Triangle or other areas, the developer will just target another neighborhood. As long as this latest housing bubble continues (prices have reached or exceeded pre-crash levels), almost any smaller single family dwelling is a target.
Most of these lots are very small – 5,000 sq ft (give or take) and building out every square foot produces massing that is very out-of-character with the neighborhood. For evidence of how bad this gets, just look at Beverly Hills, south of Wilshire/Burton Way. Lovely smaller-scale neighborhoods have been destroyed by McMansions – most of which have no style -and which are built simply to maximize square feet by building to every lot line and height limit, even some with subterranean parking. For all the money spent, it would have been nice to at least have some sort of architectural imagination or starchitect pedigree.
I hope City Staff is able to craft some sort of zone overlay or building standards to make development more in size/character with surrounding properties.
MannyTue, Mar 04, 2014 at 8:40 am
The City Council last night acted not just as our governing body but as our neighbors. I’m very encouraged by their support and clear understanding of the importance of protecting our neighborhood from reckless and selfish buildings and builders.
Something really good happened last night.
Wehoan Fed Up with the NIMBYsTue, Mar 04, 2014 at 11:04 am
God forbid families be able to move into homes that suit their needs. Nope. The only homes allowed in West Hollywood are for rich single people! The Design Police win again! Mazel Tov!
RomanoffTue, Mar 04, 2014 at 12:13 pm
Larry Block, you are a frightening man or merely an alarmist. Either way, you are dangerous to this city.
One neighborhoods concerns are valid, but to insinuate a blanket policy with absolutely no research or community discussion is grossly irresponsible.
If you intend to run a serious campaign, please leave the bubble of your self titled Gayest Store on Earth (hardly) and learn what the other 98% of residents really feel.
Perhaps you’ll venture east of Fairfax one day and see what it’s like where the future largest voting block actually lives.
Brad HallstonTue, Mar 04, 2014 at 12:22 pm
Yep, continue to erode property rights.. These idiots shouldn’t be allowed to use any of the sales of the large new homes as comps when they sell their own properties. I’ll bet they wouldn’t like that.
Nancy ChavezTue, Mar 04, 2014 at 1:44 pm
Oddly, any house design “conflicts with” the natural design of the area, so what are these morons complaining about? Why is architecture from a bygone era more favorable? 1920s architecture varied from what came before it — did anyone complain, then?
URBANTue, Mar 04, 2014 at 2:15 pm
Here we go again. A handful of “Chicken Little’s” and the resulting politics force government leaders to cower in fear. Talk about a self-entitled, self-empowered and self-centered neighborhood running amok.
MannyTue, Mar 04, 2014 at 11:12 pm
@Nancy Chavez….Nobody complained in the 1920s because it was good new architecture. But people, to this day, still complain about the McMansions built on small lots in Beverly Hills 25 years ago.
That is a more relevant comparison to the current issue and concerns.
Nancy ChavezWed, Mar 05, 2014 at 9:09 am
@Manny I just don’t see it. Are these the same people that have enjoyed a 700% increase in their property values, largely driven by those larger homes?
Wehoan Fed Up with the NIMBYsWed, Mar 05, 2014 at 10:24 am
The City of West Hollywood needs to grow a backbone and stop kow-towing to these rich, entitled elites who want to force their tastes and opinions on everyone else.
HuntleyWed, Mar 05, 2014 at 12:08 pm
I love the fact that people here – I suspect the people who have moved into expensive homes recently – refer to them as Investments – if you want an investment, play the stock market. I bought a HOME in West Hollywood as a place to enjoy with my family and friends – I didn’t have, and don’t have any expectation that it was going to increase in value – its gone up, its gone down, its gone up again – and so the cycle repeats.
I bought here for the quality of the neighborhood – i don’t consider it NIMBY to want to maintain that quality. What I do consider selfish is to move into a neighborhood and then to want to change it into something it wasn’t previously so that that individuals personal needs are met (or so they can sell up / develop / flip for a profit), without any reference to the fabric of the community.
KerriganWed, Mar 05, 2014 at 1:02 pm
@Romanoff, what’s with the off-topic personal attack on Larry Block?
Wehoan Fed Up with the NIMBYsWed, Mar 05, 2014 at 3:43 pm
“I didn’t have, and don’t have any expectation that it was going to increase in value”
That is utter BS and you know it. Almost every single person who buys a home does it as an investment and expects to make money when they sell it. That’s reality. Saying otherwise is delusional Pollyanna-ish BS.
Wanting to purchase a “home” in every sense of the word does not preclude one from treating it as an investment. People have treated real estate as an investment ever since the concept of private property was invented.
MannyWed, Mar 05, 2014 at 5:43 pm
@Nancy….If what say is true, that it’s because of these boxes that values have gone up 700% (source?) then I would tell you, that is a very dangerous bubble to be in…….and I don’t want it.