WEHOville

8555 Santa Monica Development Projected to Cause Traffic Problems at Holloway and Hancock

Mon, Jul 10, 2017   By Staff    25 Comments

Illustration of proposed 8555 Santa Monica Blvd. development.

A draft environmental impact report on the proposed development on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and West Knoll Drive says the project would have a significant impact on evening rush hour traffic at the intersection of Hancock Avenue and Holloway Drive.

The report describes the impact as “significant and unavoidable” with no feasible measures to reduce that impact.

The report, prepared by Rincon Consultants and Fehr and Peers, notes that 17 intersections (including one in Los Angeles) and eight street segments were studied. It said that nine of those intersections, including Hancock and Holloway, already have a “level of service” during rush hours of E or F. “F” is the lowest level of service, with vehicles having to stop 80 or more seconds than usual.

“Backups from nearby locations or on cross streets may restrict or prevent movement of vehicles out of the intersection approaches,” the study says, noting such backups could cause “tremendous delays with continuously increasing queue lengths.”

The nine intersections with high levels of traffic congestion are:

— Hancock Avenue and Holloway Drive (afternoon peak hour)
— Hancock Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard (morning peak hour)
— Westbourne Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard (afternoon peak hour)
— La Cienega Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard (AM, mid-day, and afternoon peak hours)
— La Cienega Boulevard and Fountain Avenue (morning peak hour)
— La Cienega Boulevard and Holloway Drive (afternoon peak hour)
— La Cienega Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard (AM, mid-day, and afternoon peak hours)
— La Cienega Boulevard and Sherwood Drive (morning peak hour)
— La Cienega Boulevard and Melrose Avenue (afternoon peak hour)

The development is a project of Soto Capital LP, one of several companies owned by Behnam Soroudi, who also has extensive real estate interests through his Ruby Group, Harper Enterprises and other companies.

It has been revised since it was proposed in 2013, with Soto adding two residential lots to the project site (along West Knoll Drive. As now designed, it will include 97 apartment units and 12 “live/work” units, 6,079 square feet of office space, a 3,718 square foot hair salon, a 2,820 square foot restaurant space and 15,678 square feet for shops. It would have one driveway onto West Knoll and one driveway onto Santa Monica Boulevard that will serve as the primary commercial
entrance and would allow right and left turns into the project and right-turns only out of it.

While the EIR found the construction of the project would generate traffic and noise, it said there are options for mitigating the impact of those on neighbors. It found no other environmental issues that were serious or could not be mitigated.

The project has drawn criticism from its neighbors, who feel the design isn’t compatible with existing on West Knoll and are concerned about the traffic it would generate.

The EIR must be reviewed by the Planning Commission and eventually approved by the City Council for it to begin. The Soroudi family has a major donor to the campaigns of West Hollywood City Council members.

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25 Comments

  1. Jonathan SimmonsWed, Aug 02, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Agree. Good thing city planning and council members sit on a dais – since they have lost the last of their spines. (joke Joy Behar made on The View re: Paul Ryan – but fits here too)

  2. Cy SingerFri, Jul 28, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Development in WeHo is negatively impacting the positive experience of this City. WeHo today is nothing but a for-profit construction zone. No matter where one goes in this postage-stamp footprint of a City there are road closures, over-sized flat bed trucks, and crawler cranes. This area has become a landfill, complete with slimy grey water running street gutters, stench-filled alleyways and over-populated homeless parks. The planning and ‘visionary’ experts at City Hall are bullied by developers and shamed into submission by overpowering commerce driven chambers. City Hall needs better management. Management with a vision of a better future and not on the immediate profit motive. Leadership with a vision to take this City not back to the urban village it once was, but to the future greatest place in America to live. Get a backbone City of West Hollywood and stop kowtowing to the demands of greedy business owners and flash in the pan developers.

  3. ObserverSun, Jul 16, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Message to Planning Commission: Time to sharpen your antennae. This project is wrong in too many ways and a stamp of approval will will not engender appropriate future development. On an elementary level a project on this site should have been broken up, at least mimicking the footprint of the one currently in place. If anyone feels the Ramada is a forgettable, unattractive structure, desperately in need of a new exterior, the plan presented will have the same result despite its bright shiny apple green panels that one of the commissioners will love.

  4. fine7760Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Concerning the Walgreens project. It seems those on the Planning Commission and on the city Council travel around with blinders on. They were assured all deliveries would be made by conventional trucks, not semi’s. I have never seen a Walgreens conventional Walgreens delivery truck only a set of doubles in the Los Angeles area. Plus Coke and most of the beer and soda delivery trucks are semi’s as well. How the hell were they going to monouver down Havenhurst and into the narrow service driveway proposed.

    We see the same short sighted decisions with many commercial projects approved and built in West Hollywood which then seek relief from their mistakes. A huge example is the PDC Red Building. It was built with the service entrance to close to the MTA property making it almost useless. This is the reason the Cohn Bros. have proposed a joint development. It was clear even before construction was started when they asked and were granted permission to access their property via the MTA Division 7 bus storage yard.

    Look around and see how conditions are modified after completion of projects. Where is the low cost housing adjacent to the Gateway project? For that matter why is there Target and Best Buy located there when the city demanded “NO BIG BOX STORES?”

    The project being proposed is out of scale with the neighborhood both commercial and residential. It should be required in order to mitigate the traffic impact that the city seek and be granted 1. An easement on the westside of West Knoll creating a right turn lane; 2. Those exiting the project must turn right only; 3. Entrance to the parking be via Santa Monica Bl. only. And also on the two pieces of residential property cannot exceed the height of the current structures.

  5. Jonathan SimmonsThu, Jul 13, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    You are correct in applying the basic Principles of Economics with Supply & Demand determine how many new units and the type/rent is part of that.

    The only time the fundamentals of Economics do not function correctly is when there is government getting involved and disrupting what would make our Housing Blocks on SMB an financial catastrophe no developer would do … well not after the first completed Housing Block is used/tented.

    OUR CURRENT NEW HOUSING BLOCKS AND THE ONES ALREADY PLANNED AND AND APPROVED ARE SOMEHOW MAKING HUGE PROFITS – against common sense and Economic Theory.

    1. The housing BLOCKS (apart from ugly) are taller, bigger and have different setback requirements. There are Statutory Provisions allowing taller, bigger, more units and less set backs when a developer chooses to
    A. MAKE NEW AFFORDABLE RENTAL UNITS AS PART F THE ENLARGED ZONING LIMITS

    B. CREATING ADDITIONAL NEW PARKING SPOTS IN ADDITION TO THE PROJECTS RENTAL UNITS NEEDED

    C PLANTING NEW GREEN (TREES OR LOW WATER TOLERANT LANDSCAPING)

    There ate several more. But the above are big budget busters for developers looking for greatest possible profit (Profit seekng, is actually not illegal, improper or in anyway a negative goal – The US is a market economy which only grows with everyone seeking whatever job/business they believe will profit them most – GREED is the American way … so calling developers “greedy selfish people who don’t give a *** about the people…. TRUE AND PERFECTLY LEGAL … SO LONG AS THEY COMPLY WITH BUILDING CODES AND FOLLOW ZONING LIMITS … )

    Look around THE CITY SPENT $16 MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE ROBO GARAGE WHICH WAS BOT NEEDED. BUT THE CITY UNDER GUISE OF HELPING THE CITY PARKING CRISIS, MADE A “PARKING CREDITS” program … and The City Paid for, using city land the obscene $16 million dollars to build new parking spots, that nobody can use … YET HE CREDITS FOR CREATING NEW PARKING SPOTS WAS TRANSFERED USING THE WEHO “PARKING CREDITS PROGRAM” TO FINANCIALLY BENEFIT THE BIG-BX-HOUSING – Which gave more height and units in exchange for the city paid on city land robo garage.Likewise, the “West Holkywood Housing Authority” is a joint venture with the city and big developers to collect units from around the city. Small new housing with 7 or more units has to make and; ncorporate 1 or 2 low incime units, handled by weho housing authority.
    ?
    Not surprisingly … the Big-Bix-Housing gets the credits for the low income units the city strong armed small residential new construction to build and the Big-Box-Housing who promised new parking, new low income units et al .. A HUGE EXTRA COST in exchange for increased zoning to build structures so big, the likes of which have never have been seen before.

    But getting the very valuable EXTRA ZONING …. BUT NOT PAYING FOR NEW PARKING OR LOW INCOME UNITS WHICH THE CITY HAS BUILT (IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO HIDE THE ROBOGARAGE ) While the new low income units via weho housing authority are held very quietly and the sign up list for anyone looking for a low income unit is never made public in a broad enough way to get to those who qualify & need housing help. Then tje sign up window is very short, and the biggest secret is who and how the recipients of those low income units get them.

  6. Todd BiancoThu, Jul 13, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Steve is right – we keep tearing down old residential and commercial buildings and building new housing, mostly on the east side. All those hundreds of units are hardly what I’d call “affordable.” All the housing built is for those making many times the minimum wage, which precludes most people from affording a place on their own. Building these new units won’t make a bit of difference. The developer wouldn’t be building them unless he believed being a residential landlord was going to be very profitable in the short and long run. There is nothing West Hollywood can do to reverse these market forces. Perhaps next time there is a major recession or even a depression, then rents will come down. But if either of those economic events happen, people will have far much more to worry about than finding an apartment.

  7. Steve MartinThu, Jul 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Nate, I appreciate your concern but there is plenty of housing for young people, (or anyone) just as long as they are affluent. We can build thousands of new units but West Hollywood is not going to be affordable to young people just starting their lives unless they are willing to have room mates or get lucky and find a unit in an older building where there are limited amenities. As a young gay man I found West Hollywood to be very affordable; so many of my peers moved here that we needed rent control to protect existing tenants. New development is catering to the top 10% and that is not going to change by allowing more density and more development. If you look at the number of units in our city and our population we don’t have as much a housing “shortage” as a excess of demand. As we are seeing, making West Hollywood even more dense is not making it any more affordable.

  8. Jonathan SimmonsThu, Jul 13, 2017 at 2:32 am

    Jessica, if you are currently a west hollywood resident, you have a home. By hoping the property values fall for home owners by a poorly thought out overdeveloped project will somehow either make your housing costs go down, or make an upgrade to you current living standards …. Neither will happen.

    The rents for theses new Apartment Blocks, or Condo Price … is always so high, it exceeds more desirable and less expensive housing on residential streets. So the supposition that there is a housing unit shortage is absurd. West Hollywood is already the most densely populated city, relative to its tiny size. More housing can be build nearby, but the actual per capita housing stock in west hollywood proper is way to high to begin with.

    Hoping people more fortunate than you in having been able to invest in a small house or condo, face a property devaluation (of an ugly project) sounds like an angry bitter person taking out their own issues on their neighbors/co-residents of West Hollywood.

    (point of fact, my particular unit will not suffer from the building – but my daily dog walks and the already dangerous situation of the cars at that tiny intersection, is a good reason to rethink how or if the project can proceed with changes to be sure not to make a unique and unknown traffic snarling intersection not even worse. (truthfully, nobody who is passing by or through (even if caught in a gridlock) realized how common the problem is there and how the plans for the new project will make things worse. It takes time in the area to see the daily recurrence of the same type of car confusion – mess keep happening.

  9. Jonathan SimmonsThu, Jul 13, 2017 at 2:16 am

    I tend to thing they push things through using “alternative facts”

    However, I recently pulled info on the failed Walgreens Project. I only scanned the massive report but was surprised, in the good way, to see there were letters submitted by local residents near that proposed project, objecting not just the project, but the responses to Negative EIR the City Got from the Review Board on first submission in which the City explained away the subterranean toxic waste that would exposed to the air and spread to local neighbors, were very strongly disputed and submitted independently by the same nearby residents opposed to that project.

    So, people concerned about a real significant change in the very awkward layout of the streets from the corner of Westknoll going north then west along Westknoll, individual submissions of letters can be made and submitted.

    The other site (walgreens): The residents who submitted letters were considered with seriousness and weight in the decision over that now defunct Walgreens project.

    So a tad of internet research can show exactly what they wrote and to whom and their impact on what most all of us residents feel is a steamrolling over any issues by the massively big and rich Development Companies doing the worst of the overbuilding.

  10. JessicaWed, Jul 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    I agree with Nate. Those of us who don’t already own homes/condos in West Hollywood are struggling. Our worry isn’t devaluation of our assets (as Jonathan Simmons mentioned), but a serious concern about whether or not we will have somewhere we can afford to live. This will add 97 more apartments in a city infamous for its housing shortage. If it has affordable units, I’d love to live there. Don’t love that it makes traffic worse at one intersection, but it’s worth it, especially considering what the existing structure looks like. It’s definitely time for an upgrade.

  11. jeffery wardTue, Jul 11, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    The current project in progress on the southeast corner of SMB and West Knoll south, and in the guise of pedestrian safety has already led to the start of changing this intersection, it is happening now under the Pedestrian Safety issues, but a Left turn lane from West Knoll south to west bound SMB, a left turn lane from SMB westbound onto West Knoll south, and a left turn lane from SMB eastbound north into this proposed project, with pedestrian enhancements is already happening starting this week, and no one should be surprised if the Westmount stop and the Alta Loma Stop are opened to alleviate the ‘F’ grade that the intersection of Hancock and Holloway got in this study and this will lead to this Extra Traffic Signal at the Shake Shack and the City has already decided that a left turn lane into this project is going to happen, I just want to know if either of these projects, the one in progress at West Knoll by the Shake Shack is and the one in this article are paying for this reconfiguration of this intersection or if the cost of it is being born by the city in the guise of Pedestrian Safety, minding you that this Pedestrian Crosswalk was actually built with block grant money specifically to make it easier for the Seniors on West Knoll South to cross the street when the city redid SMB back in the early 2000s, I mean, do people really understand that they are already replacing this Crosswalk with a Traffic light and three left turn lanes to accommodate the ongoing project and this proposed project, they are adding an extra light on SMB between La Cienega and San Vincente, so if you think traffic is bad now.

    I got rid of my vehicles four years ago and I use the City’s transportation so it will not affect me that much, my real concern is for seniors trying to cross this street already, I still do not see how this will make it safer for pedestrians.

  12. Jim NasiumTue, Jul 11, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    I never read them but all I know is that Jonathon Simmons’ comments are way too long.

    Woody, please have a talk with him.

  13. NateTue, Jul 11, 2017 at 7:09 am

    By limiting development, and not bringing down / slowing down the elevated real estate prices in West Hollywood, you make it near impossible for the younger generation to buy their first home. Not saying I love this development, but more homes/apartments are definitely needed to be built!

  14. Jonathan SimmonsMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    As a resident of the area, neighbor with woody, we have each brought up for discussion many of the problems that any large project on that lot at the corner of w knoll and smb.

    It is a NIGHTMARE with out any major project at all. Most of us have dogs, and we walk them, shop at the Pet Store on the Corner and could probably tell a new personal “near miss” or “scary close call” walking their dogs on the sidewalk and the CURRENT CAR/PARKING DRIVERS, HOMELESS ON THE GRASS BELOW THE TREES …. and “some of the customers of the Pet Store who drive huge cars, believe they own the street, and can’t even drive their huge expensive Street Yacht …. in general.

    If including the alley way in the middle of the whole already confusing, misused, failed attempts to go around traffic (not knowing w knoll curves and circles…. and the danger of the unknown about who or what lost car will come out from the alley either with a car turned into a killing machine as soon one of us doesn’t jump aside fast enough when any radical lost and driving ever faster trying to escape the curve in w knoll, the allure of the ally, that looks heaven sent to a lost and dangerously bad driver trying to correct their ‘shortcut’ attempt into a congested nightmare … daily, every day, countless times, but more often than not every time I walk my dog.

    The inadequate parking along with the most unusual diagonal drive in and exit by backing out diagonally into w knoll at the exact same problem spot – the PRE any development is and has been “A PROBLEM SPOT”.

    Before anything is built, the designer ought to spend a couple hours just standing and watching the perpetual ‘close calls’ … and just briefly ask anyone walking a dog (there is always people walking dogs right three (I always do. Pick anyone not exiting the pet store and getting into a car. THEY CAN TELL YOU NOTHING …. but their backing out is a show unto itself.

    But without necessarily disclosing that the developer or his reps is who they are (I would suggest they not disclose participation it what everyone living on the street (home owners, renters of detached homes, renters in the condos on the street) both hate the project ant the size blocking the view of a lot of people in homes and condos … depending on sightlines … FEAR THE DANGER THE PROPOSED WESTKNOLL PARKING ENTRY/EXIT will have on the safety of people walking (a few resident, a ton of TOURISTS going to and from their hotel (any one of many in or around the westknoll triangle).

    MOST OF WHICH … everyone knows will have a big to GIANT devaluation of their condo/home for future possible sale, or whatever comes when we all get that old, have only a condo and it’s value as the MONETARY RESOURCE to support their decaying final late years that is far away, but gonna happen to everyone … and home/condo ownership/investment takes in the knowledge of the HIGH costs of slowly growing old – and people live long these day ‘ but not with the health and vigor of young active people, but suffering just getting up or trying to go on a walk.

    SERIOUS SIGNIFICANT devaluation to most homes and condos all along the block, is more than future loss of money – but the money needed to help while living through the long end days of life.

    Knowing there will be less because a giant building complex DOMINATING IN SHEER RELATIVE SIZE AND HEIGHT to every and all small homes, and low rise condos …. makes for locals having very heated discussion of their fears of what the future will hold if the project goes through …. which it obviously will .. this is a city backed mega mixed use project on Santa Monica Blvd (the signature of this millennium’s city of west hollywood)

  15. Shawn ThompsonMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    You know this will get approved. The Developers made sure Duran and Hellman got re-elected along with Lindsey as the third vote its a done deal. The #weho democracy is broken

  16. Creative OneMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    SE, you bring up a valid point. It’s time to reconsider the closures of those streets. Reopening, with traffic calming measures (and perhaps one-way directions) should be reviewed.

  17. PetePMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    I agree with SE. All of these decisions to close certain streets have been made on an ad hoc basis without thinking about the impacts on neighboring streets or the community overall.
    The worst example is closing Alta Loma which was done to get neighbor support for the Millennium project (now Sunset La Cienega).

  18. Significant solutions to avoidable E & F IntersectionsMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    This may be a dumb question but when an DEIR indicates significant and unavoidable effects from said development, why is that development allowed to proceed. That seems a red flag that folks are oblivious to and produces shoulder shrugs. There is no miracle traffic solution in the foreseeable future. A reduction in density and intrusion into the neighborhood could be a viable solution to a recurring problem. Operating in an atmosphere oblivious to that could be termed insanity.

  19. StuckintrafficMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Trendy/common design. If the planning commission can’t read these traffic reports and ask that the project be scaled down in size so that Santa Monica Blvd doesn’t become a new City parking lot the planning commission should all be replaced. They too are in the pockets of developers and are not looking out for the best interests of the residents of West Hollywood or our neighboring Cities. Traffic is getting impossible and if we CAN prevent it from getting worse, why wouldn’t we?

  20. fine7760Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    When these commercial developments intrude into residential zones there should be restrictions that prohibit said development to exceed the height of the current structures in that zone.

  21. Development WoesMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    This project actually passed when it changed from totally forgettable to affected lively apple green applied panels. The direct inspiration was from Steven Kanner whose original attractive project sits on Veterans Blvd Westwood between Wilshire & Sunset. Another “architect” also borrowed his design after her passed away. Another project w minimal shelf life, part of the recent trend on SM Blvd & La Brea area. There is a particular commissioner that is continually charmed by these type of projects regardless of the consequences.

    The traffic issues will be mind numbing.

  22. SEMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    At what point do the closures of Westmount and Alta Loma get reconsidered in trying to create some sort of traffic easement? I agree that speed bumps would be a good option on all of these streets, but these specific closures have gone on far past the greater needs of the residents of West Hollywood.

  23. Todd BiancoMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Left turns into the project from Santa Monica Blvd? To do that, I think there would need to be some sort of reconfiguration of the center median on Santa Monica. Eastbound traffic is already a mess due to people trying to make a left turn into the Ramada or trying to make a (usually failed) U-turn onto westbound SMB. There is a pedestrian crossing over to West Knoll, by Shake Shack that will have to be moved. Channeling all the traffic back onto westbound SMB will only worsen the crawl speed of traffic all the way to Doheny and any north/south street will bear the brunt of traffic trying to go a different direction.

    West Knoll north of SMB is a very narrow, curving street with cars parked on both sides. I’m not sure how an intensification of housing on the street can be mitigated short of asking Elon Musk to bring The Boring Company over to the street to tunnel a way out from the building’s parking garage.

    I’m also disappointed in the design. It looks very generic “modern.” The architecture firm’s rendering probably stuck the lime green panels in just so you wouldn’t fall asleep looking at it. Wow. Exposed staircases!

    How will any large project on this lot be anything other than a mess and how will it get approved? I guess we have the answer: The Sorouidi family has been a major donor to various council members.

  24. MikeMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 11:57 am

    This stretch of SMB is already a pain to drive through. From La Cienega to San Vicente it’s stop-go all the way. I believe the term “over-development” may not be in the Council’s vocabulary.

  25. Woody McBreairtyMon, Jul 10, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I wish the city would at least put speed bumps on West Knoll north of Santa Monica. Constantly we have to endure dangerously speeding cars including taxi cabs rushing to & from the Chamberlain, speeding Fresh Brothers pizza delivery cars, not to mention speeding cars cutting through to Holloway to Sunset. Speed bumps are the least of the help we should expect to get. Obviously it’s only going to get worse

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