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.
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.