Legislative Committee Approves Fast Pass for 8150 Sunset Project

8150 Sunset Blvd.
Rendering of proposed 8150 Sunset Blvd. project

The state legislature’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee has endorsed a request by the developer of a controversial project at 8150 Sunset Blvd. that would prevent local agencies from considering its aesthetic or parking impact in deciding whether to approve it.

The project’s so-called “environmental leadership development project” (ELDP) status also means that local residents, who have expressed their opposition to it in public meetings, will have limited ability to challenge it in court. ELDP regulations stipulate that all legal proceedings, including initial hearings and appeals, can take no more than 270 days. That is an exceptionally short period in the California legal system.

The project by developer Townscape Partners is at the intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights boulevards. It is within the City of Los Angeles and adjacent to West Hollywood. At a public meeting last September more than 100 residents turned out to air a wide range of grievances, including concerns over parking, rooftop sound, traffic, demolition of the Chase Bank building, which some see as historic, and the 16-story height of the apartment building along Havenhurst.

The project would include 249 apartment units in two buildings. One would be a 108-foot-high, nine-story apartment building along Crescent Heights. The second would be a 191-foot-high, 16-story apartment building along Havenhurst Drive. Also included are 111,000 square feet of commercial space, which would include restaurants, a grocery store, retail shops, fitness center and a bank.

8150 sunset boulevard

In a letter to the governor’s office, which already has given its approval to the project, state Sen. Mark Leno, the budget committee’s chair, said he accepted the governor’s decision, although he noted that he had received letters opposing the ELDP status. Leno forwarded those letters to the governor’s office for his consideration. One was from the West Hollywood City Council, four of whose members voted Monday to oppose the designation. The complex issue was brought before the Council by Councilmember John Heilman at the last minute as an “urgency” item, with council members given only two hours to review it. For that reason, Councilmember John Duran abstained, saying he didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision on Heilman’s proposal without getting more information from both sides.

To qualify as an environmental leadership development project, a project must be either residential, a combination of residential and commercial or an employment center. It also must be located on an infill site, which is defined as underdeveloped property surrounded on three sides by urban development, and within a half mile of an existing or planned major transit stop. Finally, the developer must spend at least $100 million on the project, it must result in creation of high-wage, high-skill jobs at prevailing wages during construction and not result in any net additional greenhouse gas emissions.

While the Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended approval of the ELDP request, it noted that some of the qualifications the project is required to meet are open to interpretation. For example, it said that it isn’t clear if the requirement that the project create “high-wage, highly skilled jobs that pay prevailing wages .. and provide construction jobs and permanent jobs…” is satisfied by Townscape’s contention that it will create 300 jobs. “It is difficult to verify this projection or determine with any certainty how many of these jobs would have existed without the project,” the analysis said. The analyst decided that the requirement would be met because of the amount of retail space included in the project, for which workers eventually would be hired.

The analyst also it isn’t clear how to measure the ELDP requirement that the project would reduce traffic from employees and visitors by 10 percent from the amount expected of a similar project that didn’t meet ELDP standards. The analyst decided to rely on Townscape’s assertion that it would implement various policies to reduce traffic flow and that the project already sits within an area where there is significant traffic, some of which presumably would come to the 8150 Sunset project when it is completed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story misrepresented Councilmember John Duran’s explanation for why he decided not to vote on a resolution opposing granting ELDP status to the 8150 Sunset Blvd. project. It has since been corrected.


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kab1200
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kab1200

Fantastic! Looks amazing.

mike dunn
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mike dunn

Build Taller
It’s about local control which includes NIMBYs. When the state starts making planning decisions based on political donations we are really in trouble. This legislation was not created by or for the people but instead for he who donates the most money

Randy Matthews
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@SaveWeho – I encourage you to watch last Monday’s council meeting. The city can’t get a subway on their own and the task looks very difficult (almost insurmountable), based on Duran and D’Amico’s comments. One would hope that our density alone would be enough to recognize the need for a subway line. I never thought about a stop on Sunset, but it does make sense. This would be amazing, as an extension from Hollywood and Highland: La Brea/SMB, Fairfax/SMB, Sunset/Crescent Hgts, La Cienega/SMB, San Vicente/SMB, Beverly Center. If a subway were built, they’d probably never be able to get that… Read more »

jon
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jon

big developers spread the money around and do whatever they want to do.

Alison
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Alison

@SaveWeho – this project is not in Weho, it is in Los Angeles but just across the street from Weho. Our city council has nothing to do with this project.

Brian Hamilton
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Brian Hamilton

Additionally, West Hollywood is “one of the most densely populated cities in the entire country.” http://www.aboutweho.com/west-hollywood-california-weho-city-information/
How’s that for “dramatic”?

Brian Hamilton
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Brian Hamilton

Incorrect, Michael C. Check your facts before you call me “dramatic”: This article, and several others available via a simple internet search, provide ample proof. http://www.dailynews.com/20120326/la-more-densely-populated-than-nyc-believe-it

Michael C
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Michael C

BRIAN: “Another hastily approved urban monstrosity, coming soon to the most densely populated area in Southern California. What abut mass transit? Never mind…”

Sunset Blvd. and Crescent Heights Blvd. the most densely populated area of SOCAL? Really?! We aren’t being dramatic now are we. I’m sure there are plenty of folks that will be sad to lose another dilapidated strip mall …being squarely located off one of LA’s most famous blvd’s – Sunset.

SaveWeho
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SaveWeho

This is sad. I mean this corner HAS needed redevelopment for decades. But this is just careless and really infringes upon the rights of the community. Yes…we want something built there. Why can’t they work with the community? I really think the only concern most people have is with the height. And yes…this would be a great place for a Subway stop. But again..our city council and the people who “plan” aren’t thinking in steps. They are in such a rush to fill every vacant lot that they are ignoring the great opportunities and power we have right now to… Read more »

Romanoff
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Romanoff

This doesn’t stop anyone from fighting a project, it just takes away the strategy of tying thins up in court for years. Fast tracking the process doesn’t mean fast tracking the project.

kayaytche
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kayaytche

Does anyone remember the shady antics the developer used to try to push out tenants – installing parking gates, charging above-market rates, and not giving stores the ability to validate? I smell a rat!

Todd Bianco
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Prior to this project, I hadn’t heard about ELDP. I’m sure the law pushed through by developers to benefit developers. On paper, the requirements sound like good public policy. Then we get to the definitions, which are apparently vague enough to push any project through when accompanied by the rosiest, most ambitious prognostications. I’m much more skeptical when it comes to developer assertions that the legislative analysts relied on to recommend approval of the project. Infill site? Maybe. High wage, highly skilled jobs? In retail, restaurant or a bank branch? Unlikely. Within half a mile of an existing or planned… Read more »