Opinion: Sorry, But You Simply Don’t Make Enough to Live in WeHo

“Sorry folks, but you simply don’t make enough money to live in West Hollywood.”

That could have been the message sent by three of our City Council members when they voted Monday night to allow the gross enlargement of the iconic building at 8899 Beverly Boulevard. Only the rich will be allowed to live there – despite the statement about “affordable housing.” With reference to Brother Duran’s statement, the “new urbanists” will be sending in their mortgage payments from Dubai or Paris or Grand Turk. Make way, you of the Dirty Working Class. Moreover, we want the people who will live there to have a wonderful time – remember: West Hollywood is Partyville. The music never stops; the lights never dim; the neighbors never sleep.

Carleton Cronin
Carleton Cronin

A great opportunity was missed mostly because of the greedy desire for a quick return on the dollar and a severe lack of imagination. An important and increasingly demanded element of modern city housing, the mini-apartment, could have been an exciting way to retain WeHo’s supposedly diverse population. The idea of a co-op apartment building, vis-à-vis NYC and other cities, also would have been a natural. The knowledge that change will inevitably come should go hand-in-hand with knowing that change must be managed with both an eye on the future and a look back on the past lest we continue to simply mark time and not advance.

What now? Let’s say that you are the head waiter at a restaurant we would all recognize as being one of the best in town. But you’re tired of having to travel 45 minutes to get to work, and when you get there you have to pay too much for a parking spot – or, your bus takes forever in the ridiculous traffic. You’d like to live in West Hollywood and walk to work. Really? But you can’t afford the cover charge? Sorry. Next.

You’ve spent the last 49 years in WeHo? Long time. Have a house you cannot manage any more because of your age and want something simple, small, easy to take care of near transit, market, etc. Well, you’ll just have to move along, sir. (Please don’t hinder traffic flow.) While West Hollywood has social services for nearly every stripe of human in existence, it does not have a place in its long menu for people who cannot pay the excessive fare or for those who’ve run the course.

A little voice reminds me that we Americans don’t think much past the interior of our wallets, that every decision is based upon the cost/return principle – although we vomit contributions to causes we often do not understand and react only emotionally. Yet, the prospect of making a buck using time-tested methods seems to be our protocol.

“The future belongs to those who’ll be there” a professor of marketing once told me. I suspect that “those” will be as surprised as we when what they hoped for does not appear. For example, let me bring up “the urban village,” the “walkable city,” terms we all have heard brayed loudly and often by the political founders of the city. A village we are not and, as far as a walkable city, well, the cars have taken over that prospect. An example is the current “warehouse district” along Melrose, that stretch of a street that once housed simple, charming shops – and a “walkable” area – as well as some long-established firms for the decorator trade and, lest we forget, a moment of silence for the dark, comfy saloon that once served a 95-cent shot of Jim Beam.

So, the decision to allow the developer’s request to expand, enlarge, increase, reach out and over the boundaries of our abused General Plan and good taste has gone over like a turd in the punchbowl amongst the peasantry. (Sorry about the mix of metaphors – couldn’t help it – peasants never see punchbowls.)

We who have lived here for a while have been hearing the sound of the bulldozers throughout the city since Day One, but we’ll never get used to it. To paraphrase John Donne: ”Therefore, send not to know for whom the bulldozer roars, it roars for thee.”

But, the question now comes back to bother: “Is West Hollywood West doomed to be nibbled away bit by bit or will wiser minds see the value of an area that made the city such a desirable place to live?

Carleton Cronin and his wife, Toby Ann, have lived in West Hollywood since 1974. They have raised four sons here, and Cronin, now 82, has long been an astute observer of civic life.


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David
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David

Mark Hughes, just typing NIMBY a million times a prejorative does not make your arguments any less specious. If WeHo government really has been trying hard to make housing in WeHo affordable they they are totally inconpetent because whatever they’re doing is causing the exact opposite. Occam’s razor applies: they’re not making housing more affordable because this government really does not care about affordable housing — and the proof is in the pudding. Poor people and minorities are being priced out of West Hollywood — this supposedly “progressive” city is almost 100% white and increasingly rich. So no matter how… Read more »

Seth M
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Seth M

Many of you miss the point. What they did is illegal. In CA state law there are measures to reduce non-conforming buildings. Not increase them by almost double the sq footage. I applaud the low income aspect…in fact..make it all low income…however, changning the zoning is illegal and spot zoning and this should and will be contested. Even further the owners should be forced to REDUCE the existing building to the current limit of 4 stories. I would challenge everyone calling this NIMBYism to how would you feel if the council saw something in your back yard, say another apt… Read more »

Mark Hughes
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Mark Hughes

I see a lot of typical, utterly dishonest NIMBY posturing here. You can’t write some “oh woe is me” remarks lamenting how much you want affordable housing and how terrible it is that some apartments are expensive, and then use that as your basis for OPPOSING building housing in our city that includes 25% affordable units. This is a classic example of people who actually want to prevent more housing from being built, and who consistently oppose affordable housing (typically because they don’t want poor, working-class, or minority families moving into their neighborhoods) while offering disingenuous pretense that they really… Read more »

Aaron Bauder
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Aaron Bauder

“Our city has been a trailblazer in keeping housing affordable since its founded on rent control.” Said with a straight face. Housing in West Hollywood is not affordable. Even the “low-income housing” has a cutoff of about $46,000 to qualify for the program. Heilman cultists are as delusional as their leader.

Grant
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Grant

For every year I don’t move to a new apt in Weho I am getting further and further out priced. This city was built on affordable housing – we need help. Good article, I hope it catches on.

Jonas
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Jonas

Absolutely must agree with Chris Sanger. People must grow up. Use the bus to work or party in Weho or suck it up. God bless Weho for what it’s become.

Chris Sanger
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Chris Sanger

Disco – that is a measure of success. If it were different, it would be because the city was an undesirable place to live. Again, I am directly affected by this – I likely need to sell me house (which will pay for my retirement) but will have difficulty continuing to live here. I accept that reality, and am not in favor of the backwards steps that reduce the real estate market. An increased real estate market is one – not the only – sign, but a pretty reliable one, of a successful city. But part of the price of… Read more »

Disco Dan
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Disco Dan

When I moved here in 1978, the then unincorporated West Hollywood was seemingly occupied by the 99% but fast forward some 37 years later and we have an ever increasing population which reflects more of the 1% plus a much younger demographic who, according to a recent study, are willing to pay 50% or MORE of their income to live in WeHo. Good luck to them in saving for their eventual retirement when Social Security and Medicare will probably be radically altered or not even exist.

Karen O'Keefe
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Karen O'Keefe

“‘Sorry folks, but you simply don’t make enough money to live in West Hollywood.’ That could have been the message sent by three of our City Council members when they voted Monday night to allow the gross enlargement of the iconic building at 8899 Beverly Boulevard.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Our city has been a trailblazer in keeping housing affordable since its founded on rent control. While it still has a strong rent control law, it has been dramatically weakened by a state law that our city lobbied against — meaning the price on an individual unit… Read more »

carleton cronin
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carleton cronin

Normally, I would not respond to comments upon my scribblings for what I have said is what I have said and I know it will be tossed around like a partially deflated football. However, I think some clarification is due. It may be difficult to discern from the piece, but I am certainly not against change as long as it is fueled by a degree of intelligence and hard thought. Since my move to West Hollywood in 1974 I have seen nothing but change. What I decry is the dull sameness of interest of developers who generally want a quick… Read more »

Woody McBreairty
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Woody McBreairty

Very good & right on the mark article. After graciously giving the biggest offender, Heilman, a hint in 2011 that his services were no longer needed or wanted by placing him dead last on the slate of winners, he again failed to get it, so he was unceremoniously ousted by the voters on March 3, but he still didn’t get it & his ego reared it’s ugly head the very next day to take advantage of a weakness in the system & he was elected on June 2 by default. Should he be shameless enough to run again, & still… Read more »

Alison
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Alison

All the City Council over the years has done is make the City more unaffordable for all. I’ve lived here since 1976 and it has always been a nice place. It is just getting more and more expensive, with less and less places for the non-wealthy to live. I used to be proud to live here. But now I am disgusted. The eastern part of the City is becoming mixed use canyon, but none of the current residents can afford to live in any of them. I also never heard of any meetings for input to style. The west side… Read more »