WeHo Council Approves Bond Financing For Mid-City Robo-Garage

West Hollywood City Hall Robotic Parking Garage
City Hall Robo Garage.

West Hollywood’s City Council unanimously approved sale of $20.5 million in bonds Monday night to finance the robotic parking garage to be built behind the City Hall building at 8300 Santa Monica Blvd. at Sweetzer.

Approval of selling bonds normally happens after construction documents have been approved, however, City Manager Paul Arevalo cited current historically low interest rates as why the city is choosing to switch the order for the robo-garage project.

“The timing on this particular issuing really is to capitalize on the current market,” said Arevalo. “We saw we really could capitalize on the historically low rates … in terms of sequencing things, this is a little bit out of order.”

Of the $20.5 million, $16 million will be used for construction of the robo-garage, $1 million will be used to widen Sweetzer Avenue and underground utility lines near City Hall and another $1 million will be set aside for unexpected contingencies.

Another $1 million will be used for renovations to the Werle Building at 626 Robertson Blvd. in between Santa Monica and Melrose, adjacent to West Park. The building, which serves as the home of the West Hollywood Recovery Center, the June Mazer Lesbian Archive and the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archive Gallery, will get a new roof, electric and plumbing upgrades and an elevator to the second floor.

The final $1.5 million will cover the cost of issuing the bonds and initial repaying of the debt.

Public commenters questioned the price tag for the robotic parking garage, which will store cars in berths using a series of motorized lifts, conveyers and shuttles. The 5-story garage incorporating state-of-the-art computerized technology from Unitronics, an Israeli firm specializing in automated parking structures, will have space for 200 cars, up from the 66 that are currently available in the City Hall surface parking lot.

Resident Stephanie Harker estimated the cost to be $157,000 per space, a price Councilmember John D’Amico agreed was high.

“Over $100,000 a parking space is an extraordinary amount of money, so I’m conflicted,” said D’Amico. “Short of tearing down all of City Hall, digging a big hole and putting a parking structure underneath it and building a building on top of it, which we certainly couldn’t do for $18 million, I’m not sure how we would get parking in that neighborhood.”

Councilmember John Duran said the robo-garage is a capital investment in a part of town that has severe parking shortages. He pointed out that while City Hall employees will park there during the day, the restaurants and bars will use the structure at night.

“Anytime we can create new parking in the mid-city, we are doing a great service,” said Duran. “This is a 30-year investment in the middle part of the city.”

Other residents pointed out the original concept was to have a parking structure that included community meeting rooms and a one-stop service counter to pay bills, get permits, etc. and had a $13 million price tag.

“Over the years, the project has become much more expensive even though the number of elements in the project has declined,” said resident Lyndia Lowy.

Councilmember Jeff Prang said the community meeting rooms were just a concept, never something formally approved. Prang said they found that parking, office space and meeting rooms all wouldn’t work in the same building.

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Joshua88
Joshua88
2 years ago

No employees have ever, or ever will in the future, be harmed in the making or upkeep of this project.

Riley
Riley
6 years ago
Riley
Riley
6 years ago

There is something really fishy about that 16 million dollar robo garage. Did the citizens have any say in that? That woman who gets up and speaks to the council a lot, said something at the last meeting I watched about it was supposed to be The West Hollywood Community Service Center. Is this true? And if it is, how did they get away with this?

chloe ross
chloe ross
6 years ago

Hindsight: Five people and the The Prince decide to float the bond issue (i.e. loan) and that makes 6 and the rest of us do not get a say? These six do not represent my opinion.

chloe ross
chloe ross
6 years ago

Yes, Rudolf, I believe that is an accurate observation indeed.

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
6 years ago

wouldn’t Mr. Arevalo be the tail, wagging the council?

chloe ross
chloe ross
6 years ago

Here is a very fine description of machiavellianism: Machiavellian intelligence may be demonstrated by behaviors including: Blaming and forgiveness; Lying and truth-telling; Making and breaking alliances; Making and breaking promises; Making and breaking rules; Misleading and misdirection. While I am not accusing any individual of such behavior it is good to know what it is if you see it happening. During the Renaissance and the start of banking (heretofore the Church held most of the purse strings) various ways of acquiring and keeping the gold in the coffers was developed by the Borgias, Machiavelli and other “powers behind the thrones”.… Read more »

Snarkygal
Snarkygal
6 years ago

I think we need to get rid of Paul Arevelo. I think a lot of these ideas come from him. He doesn’t even live in the City and gets a huge salary. Chloe, they are building this because CH employees are too lazy to walk the block from the Kings Road parking structure and for the bar/restaurant patrons in that part of town. Another source of income for the City. I agree, IT IS NOT NEEDED. I wonder how many times the City Council has broken the Brown Act regarding this project. Changing plans, increasing the amount of bonds over… Read more »

chloe ross
chloe ross
6 years ago

What happens exactly if the city (any city) defaults on the loans???

chloe ross
chloe ross
6 years ago

And since some very new math is being applied in this matter – you probably won’t. Sadly in 30 years many of us – with a little luck will be sitting on the porch at the home rocking and telling WeHo tales so bizarre and unbelievable our fellow residents will get up and run for cover. WE DO NOT NEED A ROBOGARAGE. The humans who resides directly behind CH DO NOT NEED ONE EITHER. You have to wonder if our elected reps sit and look at Hammacher Schlemmer catalogues for more and more outrageous ideas they can expand to spend… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
6 years ago

The ‘historically low interest rates’ have been going up for several months now.

John Duran tried to apply some interesting math by first dividing the roughly $20 million by 200 parking spaces (conveniently forgetting the existing spaces) and then by 30 years (no joke).

The $157,000 cited by Stephanie Harker is “per added space” and she was being kind. I would include “maintenance and operation”, easily another $15 million for 30 years.

I have not been able to find any mention of these costs.

chloe ross
chloe ross
6 years ago

The amount of taxpayer input for this mammoth project has been negligible. In 2010 the West Hollywood “one stop” center was part of the Capital Plan. Now it wasn’t really. And the order in which bonds are being floated is backwards but that’s okay according to Mr. Arevalo. I would venture to say just because you sit up on the thrones twice a month you are not entitled to hammer out little plans and projects at your own whim or fancy. I would say that city of 35,000 may not really need a robogarage. And I could be wrong. But… Read more »

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