WeHo Council Extends WeHo West Building Moratorium to Dec. 31

A so-called "big box" house under construction.
A so-called “big box” house under construction.
The West Hollywood City Council agreed last night to extend until Dec. 31 the 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.

The decision came after a public hearing in which some speakers decried the construction of what they called “big box” houses, whose mass was out of character with the neighborhood, while others objected that the moratorium would make it impossible for them to expand their homes to accommodate their growing families.

The Council declined to support an extension of the moratorium for 12 months, which had been requested by the city’s Community Development Department. Councilmembers John Duran and John Heilman noted that the issues already were understood and that the department should quickly develop ways to address them. Duran said he didn’t expect community consensus on such a divisive issue.

West Hollywood West 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. It is dominated by roughly 1,000 single-family homes and duplexes. The moratorium would give the Community Development Department (CDD) time to develop a so-called “overlay zone,” which 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 an earlier 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.

Stephanie deWolfe, the city’s Community Development Director, said her staff could meet the December deadline. deWolfe said the CDD is looking to engage an architect with experience in such issues to analyze and help draft an overlay zone proposal. deWolfe also noted that, despite complaints by some speakers, the CDD does not contemplate banning two-story houses. Instead, she said, the issue is the mass of the new houses and how it fits with the overall look of the existing neighborhood.

  1. @Bazoo…No one is demanding one story houses only. Please do not spread misinformation.

    There will always be old and new two story houses in West Hollywood West.

  2. I don’t know why there is so much fuss over some of these new homes. Have you driven through the neighborhood? West Hollywood West is loaded with unsightly houses and duplexes. I would rather have a new, safe, modern house next to me then some termite infested home that doesn’t meet electrical or safety codes. Many of these homes are accidents waiting to happen. It’s not like the area has some architectural significance like Hancock Park or Spalding Square. I can understand encouraging better design especially since it’s in the design district but demanding one story homes is just unreasonable and most likely illegal especially since the neighborhood is loaded with two story homes and duplexes. Let’s keep the focus on encouraging better design and not allowing developers to use the same design for multiple homes in the same neighborhood.

  3. Yes, score one for the Rich Design Police. Way to go, One Percenters! Let’s keep those families out of Weho! Huzzah! Small, dated houses for everyone! Boooo extra bathrooms and bedrooms.

  4. The City Council deserves an A+ for standing up to those profiteers whose sole motivation for erecting these out of character, oversisized, generic & hackneyed two story cubed structures, is to enrich their bank accounts. West Hollywood West is a unique neighborhood, a slice of small town America, in a big city. Demolishing these beautiful Spanish style homes that have been here nearly a century & replacing them with two story, industrial like cubes is an affront to those of us who actually care about the unique character & charm of this area.
    Allowing the city & it’s citizens time to formulate codes that respect the character & context of our neighborhood, will benefit everyone, including the city, by creating guidelines that allow for expanding ones property without dwarfing the homes surrounding the property & with an Archietectuural design beyond the shape of a cube. Everybody benefits from this. Everyone except those developers who are content to put up obnoxious structures at the expense of an entire neighborhood.
    Thank you Council Members for recognizing this issue & doing something to mitigate any further development of this nature.

  5. West Hollywood joins the growing number of communities who are acting to diffuse the infestation of inappropriate and reckless development in established neighborhoods.

    The resolution that will come out of this process will not only consider homeowners who like where they live and want to stay, but will also invite a new generation to establish themselves in a community that embraces it’s value, quality of life and good sense.

  6. Great job by the city council and staff in trying to protect WeHo from what happened in Beverly Hills with it’s oversize, over-scale and overdone palace/homes that once built would be a blight on the neighborhood for years to come.

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