Developer Seeks Permission to Double Condos at Proposed Santa Monica Boulevard and Kings Road Building

Current building at 8350 Santa Monica Blvd.
Current building at 8350 Santa Monica Blvd.
The developer of a proposed condominium building on the southwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Kings Road is seeking permission to more than double the number of housing units while reducing the space devoted to stores and offering fewer than the required number of parking spaces.

The developer, Combined Kings Road LLC, is a unit of Combined Properties Inc., which also owns and intends to redevelop the property at the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Brea Avenue currently occupied by a Chase Bank branch and an ATT store.

Combined’s initial proposal was approved by the West Hollywood City Council in 2008. Its request for a revision will go before the West Hollywood Planning Commission on Thursday for a public hearing.

Combined wants to increase the overall size of the building by 8,260 square feet to a total of 48,574 square feet. The portion of the building fronting Santa Monica Boulevard would be four stories high, while a section to the south housing loft spaces would be three stories high. Combined wants to increase the number of condo units in the building to 48 smaller units from the 20 units of 1,000 to 1,800 square feet that it originally proposed. Combined also proposes reducing the ground floor space devoted to retail from 7,099 square feet to 5,580 square feet.

Combined says the 48 residential units would include eight “affordable” one-bedroom units of a little more than 500-square feet that would be rented to “very low income” individuals (currently defined as a person with no more than $28,370 in annual income) and “low income” individuals (defined as someone making less than $45,392 a year.)

The project as approved included 66 parking spaces in an underground garage — more than three per condo unit. Combined now proposes 78 parking spaces, with 61 in the underground garage and 17 in an adjacent parking garage that it owns. No parking would be provided for very-low and low-income tenants, for whom Combined would buy bus passes.

Combined proposes to offer only 12 rather than the required 20 commercial parking spaces. A city planning staff review of the proposal argues that some of the commercial traffic will be on foot, and that parking will be available in the city-owned garage on the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard.

In 2008 Combined successfully lobbied the City Council to not require it to offer the open common space the city traditionally has required of such buildings so that it could use that space instead for private balconies or other individual space.

In an apparent attempt to increase his company’s influence with the City Council, which approved its initial plan in 2008, Ronald Haft, the Washington, DC-based CEO of Combined, has made the maximum campaign donation of $500 each in the past two election cycles to City Council members John D’Amico, John Heilman, Jeffrey Prang and John Duran and Mayor Abbe Land. Marianne Lowenthal, who heads Combined’s Southern California operation from Beverly Hills, donated $100 to Heilman and $500 to Duran. Haft and Lowenthal also donated to the unsuccessful 2011 campaign of Lindsey Horvath, who was appointed to the council by long-term incumbents Heilman, Land, Duran and Prang to fill a seat left empty by the death of council member Sal Gariello.

West Hollywood City Council members, who receive a major portion of their campaign donations from outside developers and other business interests, routinely insist such contributions do not influence their decisions or the decisions of their appointees to the Planning Commission on matters presented by those campaign contributors.

1021 N. Ogden Dr. design
1021 N. Ogden Dr. design
The Planning Commission also will consider a proposal by the city’s planning staff to approve a project by NHVA I-IV LLC that calls for replacing a house at 1021 Odgen Dr., between Santa Monica and Romaine, with a seven-unit condominium building. The developer is seeking permission to erect a building roughly 10 feet higher than the 35-foot height currently permitted. The building will consist of four two-bedroom and two one-bedroom units and would not provide guest parking, as regulations currently require.

Finally, the city’s planning staff will recommend that the commission postpone until Feb. 20 a hearing on a proposal for changing a controversial proposed project at 8497-8499 Sunset Blvd. at its intersection with Miller Drive near La Cienega. The postponement was made because the Los Angeles County Fire Department is asking for additional information before it comments on the plan.

The project, located partly in West Hollywood and partly in Los Angeles, upset neighbors in 2010 when a study projected it could increase traffic by nearly 1,000 cars a day on the already congested Sunset Boulevard.

As conceived initially, the project would have replaced an existing 31-unit apartment building with a five-level, 28,139-square-foot building with 11 rental apartments and 11,240 square feet for stores. Karma Development, owned by Frank Damavandi, had hoped to begin construction in the fall of 2011.

The latest iteration proposes 24 condominiums and 10 apartments for low-income people along with 9,200 square feet for stores and a restaurant and erection of a billboard.

The site appears to be well within the Hollywood earthquake fault zone revealed last week by the California Geologic Survey. It is unclear whether the city will require projects proposed or already under development along that fault line to modify those projects to reduce possible damage and death from an earthquake. John Keho, West Hollywood’s assistant city development director, said that a geologist with whom the city contracts would need to study the state map.

Karma’s Darmavandi and one of the employees of his Los Angeles development firm made the maximum financial donations to Councilmember John Heilman during his 2011 re-election campaign.

The Planning Commission meeting, open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. between Santa Monica and Melrose.

  1. @Waide Riddle: Weho never fought the subway….many of us attended the MTA meetings where our support was overwhelming. Ultimate (for now anyways) we lost out. Don’t dare to suggest that City Hall is not in favor of mass transit whether it be above or below ground.

    The other part of this is that at the time, frankly West Hollywood wasn’t dense enough to warrant MTA keeping us on the short list. All this development will force the subway conversation back onto the table. True it won’t manifest for 20 years, but we have to start somewhere.

    This is no longer 1984. Times change, populations change and what was right for West Hollywood back in the day is no longer possible. Many “artists” communities have been washed over. The great thing is that new artists communities pop up in less desirable areas. It’s really very exciting when you think about it.

    West Hollywood is a mature, well run, well funded city so these changes that some the Vocal Minority complain about are inevitable.

    Move if you don’t like it….despite what some on this website claim, we still live in a free country.

  2. “West Hollywood City Council members, who receive a major portion of their campaign donations from outside developers and other business interests, routinely insist such contributions do not influence their decisions or the decisions of their appointees to the Planning Commission on matters presented by those campaign contributors.”

    hahahahaha! good one, staff!

    can’t everybody park in the robo garage next door?

  3. Here is another thought… I am a regular user of the Metro bus and subway system in Los Angeles. (I gave up my car over a year ago) WeHo and Beverly Hills made a huge blunder by rejecting the idea of the subway going underneath Santa Monica Blvd.
    Boy, did they have the excuses for not wanting it!
    If Abbe and John H. really wanted to make a splash, they should revisit the idea and approve it. Remember, the public that works, lives, visits and tours WeHo will use the subway. Think of how much Money $$ it would bring to the city…

  4. Lester, WeHo simply cannot fit all of this mammoth development into its borders. In 1984, WeHo was made into a city which its City Hall & Chamber promised to make into an Artist’s Mecca… For Artists to pursue their craft and be embraced by the Creative City. To be able to sleep at night and not fear the prospect of ‘jacked up’ rents. Artists are poor! Everyone knows that. Today’s artist cannot afford WeHo anymore. We can thank Abbe and John H. for embracing big business and selling WeHo out all in the name of $$$$. I, too, have had to spend my lunch and dinner hours looking for a parking space… not because of a lifestyle choice… but for lack of space that the city IS responsible for. The only friend we seem to have that is truly fighting for the resident is John D ‘Amico. But, Lester, you are probably right, the City should build, build, build. But, for the rest of us, the city will disappear in a mountain of oversized development based on a few ‘greedy’ decisions.

  5. In and of itself, the change from 20 to 48 units isn’t horrible or overwhelming. As others have stated, it’s the cumulative effect of all the housing and mixed-use projects. The developer should provide sufficient parking on site, not relying on the already packed Kings Road structure.

    The east side is really going to be a mess once all the big developments – Movietown Plaza, Carl’s Jr., Faith Plating, Jon’s Market, etc. are fully occupied. I fear that every property owner along Santa Monica Blvd will see the development gold mine and all the 1 and 2 story buildings will be bulldozed to be replaced by far larger mixed use complexes. We will lose all the mom and pop businesses that define WeHo as none will be able to afford the new rent. I don’t see the City Council doing anything about the rampant overdevelopment. In 20 years, for better or worse, we are going to have a drastically different town. If only we had a Santa Monica Blvd subway to alleviate traffic – or even an elevated light rail. I don’t see that happening either.

  6. @luca d – ditto. The biggest problem is the people who have caused this or ARE causing this (i.e. the entrenched council members, the city manager,resident of Pasadena, and their developer cronies) will be gone as well. So we all get to suffer due to their lack of planning and leave a big fat mess for the next generation. What happen to “SLOW GROW in WEHO”.? Time to look at the General Plan again…although for all of us here now…it is too late. Wait til that big fancy new mall goes in on SM Blvd and San Vicente. You won’t be able to get to a City Council meeting…oh, wait…that’s what they want.

  7. I’m sorry Lester, you’re right. My “lifestyle choice” should be to enjoy my dinner in my car while waiting to park…opps, scratch that, I’ll sleep in the car too while paying a pretty steep rent to enjoy living in the City of West Hollywood. Bottom line, if you build something new, you should supply adequate parking for your new business or homes…it’s astoundingly simple. If our City Council sees it differently, I will remember that at election time. Peace out.

  8. I love development, I love healthy growth, and yet, I get the sense that the bum’s rush is being pressed onto our backs.
    the east side of town is a nightmare that has yet to take shape, the parking and traffic when all of the new units are filled, is going to choke West Hollywood from the east.
    The mid town developments, Walgreens at Crescent Heights and Kings Road, are just adding insult to injury.
    When will the owner of the property and land between La Jolla and Havenhurst 9south side) decide to mix use their treasured real estate?
    That’ll make Connie and Ted look like pikers, parking-wise.

    This issue of ‘low income’ units is also the kind of socialist dogma that will surely see the standards and goal posts sliding about in the coming years. Those low income slots are going to be gone with the wind. Follow the money.

    This city is changing and fast. Twenty years from now, WeHo will be unrecognizable, and demographically, today’s understanding of who and what the residents represent will be a memory.

  9. What exactly is wrong with both more people and more money in our city? Our sidewalks aren’t exactly crowded with people, and there is nothing wrong with new neighbors. If you’re complaints stem around parking and traffic then maybe it is your lifestyle choices that are the problem and not our “greedy” city council. I for one cheer the densification of my neighborhood.

  10. It is evident that our current City Council and it’s Planning Department doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the citizens that already live in the City. It is all about bringing MORE people and more MONEY into the City.

  11. since they are creating a tunnel anyway on santa monica blvd, why don’t they just build OVER the street itself???? —-yes, this is sarcasm—-DOH!—i just gave them an idea

  12. Its the northeast corner at SMB & La Brea, not the northwest, … just sayin.
    And my vote goes to the original approved plans.

  13. Ditto Nic and John’s comments above. Just opening up Connie and Ted’s has all their workers, to say nothing of patrons, taking all of the available street parking for us residents for blocks around. New projects need MORE parking than currently required even, certainly not less!

  14. The City Council would approve giving low income residents bus passes instead of parking..gee, that’s not insulting or illegal. When is the City Council going to realize that this massive over development is going to destroy the everyday life of current residents. I’ve eaten my dinner in my car some nights waiting for street parking in my “permit” area of Sweetzer and Norton. Brilliant planning like approving LESS parking for new development will surely cure that, right? Why doesn’t the council work on trying to make sure established residents have a place to park their car overnight before bringing more people with cars into our city and granting them absolutely no parking???

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