Guidelines to Restrict ‘Big Box’ Houses in WeHo West Go to Planning Commission

west hollywood west neighborhood
West Hollywood West

The West Hollywood Planning Commission  will be asked tomorrow night to approve design guidelines and a zoning amendment intended to stop the construction of so-called “big box” houses in the West Hollywood West neighborhood.

A two-story house under construction at 8740 Dorrington Ave. in West Hollywood West by DD&Co. Enterprises of Beverly Hills, replacing the one-story Spanish colonial style house shown below.
A two-story house under construction at 8740 Dorrington Ave. in West Hollywood West by DD&Co. Enterprises of Beverly Hills, replacing the one-story Spanish colonial style house shown below.

The City Council in April placed a moratorium on construction of new houses in the neighborhood, which is bounded by Melrose Avenue on the north, Beverly Boulevard on the south, La Cienega Boulevard on the east and Doheny Drive on the west. It consists largely of single-family or duplex buildings built in the 1920s and 1930s.

The moratorium was designed to give the city’s Community Development Department time to consider a way to address complaints by residents that developers were constructing massive houses out of character with those already existing.

Construction of the large houses began in 2010, and applications to the city for new housing permits in the area have increased sharply in recent years. The Community Development Department said that while two applications were approved in 2010 and two in 2011, eight were approved in 2012, ten in 2013, and eight were under consideration when the Council approved the moratorium in April.

The guidelines developed by the department are designed to ensure that the mass, scale and proportion of new buildings complement the existing neighborhood. They also specify that new homes should be of a unique design and not identical to others nearby. The goal, according to a report from the Community Development Department, is to preserve the eclectic character of the neighborhood’s housing.

8740 Dorrington Ave. in West Hollywood West was a 1,200 square foot house with two bedrooms and two bathrooms on a 5,100 square foot lot.
8740 Dorrington Ave. in West Hollywood West was a 1,200 square foot house with two bedrooms and two bathrooms on a 5,100 square foot lot.

The conditions the Community Development Department proposes include requirements that:

1) If a new building is two stories or more than 15 feet in height, the floor area of the second floor not be greater than 75 percent of the floor area of the first floor and that the front and sides of the building not be a single solid plane.

2) The roof of a building not be a single unbroken plane, but have a vertical or horizontal change of direction at least three feet long. This requirement would prevent construction of buildings whose straight horizontal rooflines make them resemble boxes.

3) Balconies on the side of a building not be larger than 80 square feet and to the rear not be larger than 144 square feet. Side balconies that are within five feet of the maximum allowed perimeter of the building must have a privacy screen. Neighborhood residents have complained that balconies on the sides and rear of some new houses seem to intrude on the privacy of their neighbors, given the relatively small size of the lots in the area.

Research by WEHOville shows many of the applications for replacing one-story houses with two-story houses have come from Beverly Hills-based real estate developers rather than residents or prospective residents of those homes. An example is DD & Co Enterprises, which is listed as the owner of 8740 Dorrington Ave., where it has demolished the existing house and has a new one under construction. David Akhtarzad , an owner of DD & Co. Enterprises, also is listed as the owner of 8830 Dorrington Ave., where permission to replace a one-story house with a two-story house has been granted. His company’s website identifies it as a real estate developer, in business since 2006, that concentrates on West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Real estate records show that its principals, who include Danniel Akhtarzad, have been involved in buying and selling dozens of houses in West Hollywood in recent years.

If approved by the Planning Commission, the guidelines will go to the City Council for final approval. The Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica.

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AM Williams
AM Williams
5 years ago

GREAT! I am watching these monster houses destroy my community.
I watched 3 cute homes and lovely people leave. Now monster houses and some detached rude strangers.

Judson Greene
Judson Greene
5 years ago

I believe the ball started rolling because the developers played a little trick albeit within required regs. But took the second floors and hung the. Over the first floor so as to stay to the foundations but picked up square footage above. I might submit that everyone pay attention as our attentions are drawn to the residential big box homes and permits are handed out left and right for big and bigger commercial box construction!

JJ
JJ
5 years ago

Thanks, SaveWeho. And thanks for posting the link to the street view. I’d like to think that this was done without permits from the City.

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
5 years ago

Agree with JJ. The house looks like a storage unit. Just awful. This is why we need rules in place: http://goo.gl/maps/P6htG

JJ
JJ
5 years ago

It should be citywide! In the Norma Triangle we have a house just west of Hilldale on Norma (north side) that got a front facade “makeover” clad in aluminum panels that looks more like a commercial facade then a residential one – especially considering the surrounding neighborhood character. This should not be limited to the WHW area. They might be the best organized and most vocal of neighborhoods within the City (and kudos to them for getting this ball rolling) but it should not be limited to just their area.

Jonathan
Jonathan
5 years ago

Joe if the library here needs help I would be happy to volunteer . It’s really sad to think that because I may have a comment to maybe make a difference that your responce is to wish me death. Be careful what you wish on others. I am also surprised that wehoville would allow it’s comment section to sink to such a low .. . Goodnite folks and remember were all neighbors in some way or another be good to each other . I may choose. To attack city council and staff for things I think they can be doing… Read more »

Alison
Alison
5 years ago

Johnathan, go to the meeting tonight!

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

If this is approved city wide (not sure it should be – that neighborhood has specific factors that make it more of a problem there; this is one case where their usual way over the top NIMBYism actually makes some sense), among the big winners will be those who already have two story, 2000 sq ft + houses – there aren’t too many around.

cathy
cathy
5 years ago

@Manny. I HOPE you are correct about this being some sort of blueprint for ALL neighborhoods in West Hollywood. Most neighborhoods are an eclectic mix and warrant the same guidelines. BRAVO to WeHo West for getting the ball rolling and NOT the wrecking ball.

carleton cronin
carleton cronin
5 years ago

And here begins the good argument for better Council representation: by district, not “:at large” where much is swept under the rug.

Manny
Manny
5 years ago

All West Hollywood residents can expect these new codes and design guidelines to be the blueprint for their own area of Weho. Once approved, applying these enhancements to other neighborhoods will be easy.

It behooves all residents, from all over West Hollywood, to come to tonight’s Planning Commission meeting and support these changes…..By doing so, you will also be supporting neighborhoods outside of WHW who are faced with the same condition.

This indeed is of interest to all of West Hollywood and beyond……See you tonight!!!!

Jonathan
Jonathan
5 years ago

Glad to see the city is working on a fix here. Since the issue is open did the city take into consideration some other ideas and issues ? Planting and irrigation requirements for the drought ? These systems should be installed by licensed contractors only, valves/zones should be seperate, shady planting from sunny plantings and not allow for any over spray onto sidewalks. Or drip and drought tolerant. A planting area of 2-4′ minimum in side and rear setbacks for planting of approved screening shrubs. These should be planted with root control barriers and be of a solid coverage nature… Read more »