Design Subcommittee Approves 826 N. Kings Dr. Next Step: Planning Commission

A rendering of the revised 826 N. Kings Rd. project. Architect Ric Abramson
A rendering of the revised 826 N. Kings Rd. project. Architect Ric Abramson

West Hollywood’s Design Review Subcommittee endorsed modifications of the controversial condo project at 826 N. Kings Rd. last night in a discussion that expanded to include implementing the city’s goal of housing for low- and moderate-income people.

The project originally was proposed as a five-story building with 34 housing units, five of which would be available for low- or moderate-income people. It was approved by the Planning Commission in October 2014. But a well-organized campaign against the project by neighbors on Kings Road, which reached a crescendo during the West Hollywood City Council’s March general election and June special election, led the Council to send it back to the Planning Commission to address complaints about the project’s height and its possible impact on traffic and parking.

The revised project is a four-story building with 25 units and no housing for low- or moderate-income people. Instead the developer, Demetri Damos, has agreed to contribute roughly $850,000 to the city’s affordable housing trust fund. Under city law developers of buildings with 10 or more units must make at least 20 percent of them available to low- and moderate-income people or pay a fee to the housing trust fund. That added five units to the 25 units in Darmos’ original proposal. Another four units were added to secure the city’s approval of the building’s overall size.

The revised project drew praise from some of its former opponents, including Cynthia Blatt, who organized the United Neighbors for Responsible Development (UNRED) that appealed the Planning Commission’s approval of the project to the City Council. Blatt stepped back from her controversial previous statement that the city didn’t need more affordable housing and that it instead should be built elsewhere in Los Angeles. In her comments to the Subcommittee, Blatt said she hadn’t opposed more affordable housing in West Hollywood and that she supported the developer’s decision to give money to the affordable housing trust fund rather than build housing for low- and moderate- income people in the building on Kings Road.

But the decision to eliminate the affordable housing also was criticized. “I think it’s a shame that it is considered a sign of progress that we build less housing…” said Mark Hughes, a West Hollywood resident, commenting on the reduction of the number of units. Hughes also criticized the push by Kings Road residents to eliminate the affordable housing. “I grew up in the Deep South and I know what it’s like to hear people say “don’t let those people live in my back yard,” he said.

John Altschul, a Planning Commission member who sits on the Design Review Subcommittee, also spoke to objections residents have raised about building more housing in West Hollywood. “Here we are still debating the issue of where do we put it (affordable housing,” he said. “Do we put it on site or do we put it in someone else’s backyard? This is disturbing.”

Altschul said increased density is inevitable in West Hollywood, given that it sits within the second largest metropolitan area in the United States. “One thing we have to realize is we have to make use of our vertical space,” he said. “Communities are going to go upward.”

Other changes made by Ric Abramson, the project’s architect, include modifying the north side of the building to screen the units from the view of those in the condominium to its north. The project’s front facade now includes two stories on Kings Road, with the additional two stories stepped back on the top of the building.

The revised project was approved by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission on Monday. The project will go back to the Planning Commission for final approval at its September meeting.


newest oldest
Notify of
Robert Switzer
Guest
Robert Switzer

The 800 block of North Kings Road already has 106 affordable income units. None of the neighbors ever protested the construction of those units because the buildings were responsibly planned, their scale fitting in with the rest of the block. What angered the neighbors in the case of the 826 project was its scale, taller than any other building on the street with shallower setbacks that would have left the neighboring building to the north in permanent shadow. It also would have encroached on the historic property behind it, the Charlie Hotel. Moreover, not all units would have had parking… Read more »

Jonathan Simmons
Guest
Jonathan Simmons

HEY EVERYONE – LOOK HERE IS A CITY IN NEED OF REDEVELOPMENT FUNDS FROM THE STATE. JUST FOUND THE LINK.

https://www.wehoville.com/2015/08/28/weho-posts-highest-increase-in-property-values-in-l-a-county/

Jonathan Simmons
Guest
Jonathan Simmons

WeHo has a coordinated City Hall, City Council and Endless Public Meetings whereby they say “By Law, the city is required to build new low income housing units”. It’s kind of Like saying VISA requires by law I pay my credit card bills for purchases I’ve made with my VISA account. The ONLY legal requirement comes from the CHOICE of the Mega-Developers who want to take advantage of one (of many) “incentives” that the CA Redevelopment Agency provides by statute, where by, in order to “redevelop” (note … weho is and has always been OVERDEVELOPED as one of the most… Read more »

BlueEyedBoy
Guest
BlueEyedBoy

Thanks for the info, Joe. But no generalizations were made.

joetheplummber
Guest
joetheplummber

@blewide. Tenants for affordable housing are screened by the housing provider. If they have an eviction on their record they don’t qualify for housing. If they break the rules once they are in the housing they can be evicted–just like any other tenant. Your comments sound like a generalization. For example, all the waiters at x restaurant are snotty. We have friends who are housed in low income housing who are lovely people. I am sure that does not apply to all. Making generalizations is perpetuating ignorance.

BlueEyedBoy
Guest
BlueEyedBoy

I’ll let you have the last word, Jimmy.

Although, actually, your last words are MY words. Funny how that worked out.

Jimmy Palmieri
Guest

@blueEyedBoy………i think you need to think with your critical thinking skills before you write your critical remarks…….i need not explain myself…i’ll simply copy and repaste one of the most flagrantly elitest comments i have seen on this site…a’la YOU! Could you be so disconnected that you don’t even realize that what you write is so offensive it’s nearly impossible to believe you would try to defend it? “Mark Hughes, sometimes poor people make very bad neighbors. Sometimes their life-style choices are the reason they are poor, and they’re not going to leave the way they live at the border of… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
Guest
Rudolf Martin

I support including low and moderate income housing for any new development, I would actually like to see those requirements increased as rents are skyrocketing. But the idea that we have to overload our infrastructure by allowing 5 story boxes on our residential streets in order to achieve diversity is ludicrous. The new downsized version seems like a more responsible development to me. Those upset with the loss of the 5 LMI units should not demonize the neighbors that fought the artificially oversized project but instead try to improve the requirements for developers so they would still have to include… Read more »

BlueEyedBoy
Guest
BlueEyedBoy

Lordy, Palmieri, you’re as knee-jerk reactionary as Mark! Apply some of your critical thinking skills, if you have them, and reread what I wrote. You are inferring things that just aren’t there. I said I have mixed feelings about the issue, I asked how would we address providing housing for low-income people who really need help (avoiding those who would be a problem, like my former drug dealing neighbor), and I said I’m all for compassion for those who need a helping hand (like the disabled). My only qualifiers were “misguided compassion” and “compassion without logic”. I guess what I’m… Read more »

Jimmy Palmieri
Guest

@blueyedboy….AND SOMETIMES PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES IN LOW INCOME BRACKETS DUE TO SEVERE DISABILITES. Take a sensitivity training course. For your good, and the good of all you come in contact with.

Jimmy Palmieri
Guest

@BlueEyedBoy……you do realize people can actually read the horrific things you are writing , right? SOMETIMES, MR., JUST SOMETIMES RICH NEIGHBORS MAKE BAD NEIGHBORS ALSO. Your rhetoric is akin to I don’t mind “black people, as long as they don’t live near me.” I think you sound worse, if possible, than Blatt who created this entire fiasco.

BlueEyedBoy
Guest
BlueEyedBoy

Where do you get this stuff, Mark? You read a LOT into what I said that wasn’t there, but I’ll never convince you of that, so I won’t bother trying. I used the qualifying word “sometimes”, and I referenced my own limited experience. I think you’re being a little over the top in your assumptions.