Controversial Norton Avenue Project Goes Before WeHo Planning Commission

The West Hollywood Planning Commission on Thursday will consider whether to approve a controversial five-story project on Norton Avenue that will replace 21 rent stabilized housing units with 34 units, five for low- and moderate-income people and 29 that will be sold as condominiums.

Rendering of proposed 8017-8029 Norton Ave. project

Rendering of proposed 8017-8029 Norton Ave. project

The project, developed by Craig Berberian’s Empire Property Group, was approved by the Commission’s Urban Design Subcommittee with the proviso that changes be made to make it appear less bulky. It would sit on three lots one occupied by two one-story structures with a total of six apartments, another with a one-story structure with a one-story and a two-story building with a total of seven apartments and the third lot with a two-story building with eight apartments. Rent increases for all 21 apartments are governed by the city’s rent stabilization law. The property is at 8017-8029 Norton, a block north of Santa Monica Boulevard.

In 2008 the City Council granted an appeal by local residents to reject a plan to replace 13 apartments on two lots at 8017-8023 Norton with a 16-unit condominium building. Council members argued that the design was mediocre and did not provide adequate parking. The current project includes 61 parking spaces, three more than the 58 required for a building of its size under city law.

In a petition signed by 30 residents and at a meeting in May at which the project was presented by the developer, neighbors objected to the size of the building. The building crosses two different zoning areas, one of which permits a building of no more than three stories and the other of which permits a four-story building. Because it is offering housing for low- and moderate-income people, Empire is asking for permission to add one more story to each side of the building, making it a combination of four and five stories.

In their petition to the city, opponents of the project argued that it would be out of character with the neighborhood. “Norton Avenue is made up of I story bungalows, some of which can be considered historic, as well as small 2 story apartment complexes,” the petition says. “The proposed … condominium complex … completely out of proportion to ALL of the buildings in the area, TOWERING over them by at least 3 stories. lt is one MAMMOTH strncture spanning three lots, and does not fit in with the California Courtyard style that is prevalent throughout the neighborhood.

“It is removing 21 UNITS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING for working, middle class, West Hollywood residents and replacing it with 5 affordable housing units- FOR A NET LOSS OF 16 AFFORDABLE UNITS FOR WEST HOLLYWOOD RESIDENTS,” the petition says.

The commission’s hearing will be the latest in a series of meetings before it and the City Council at which residents and political figures have debated the impact of denser development on the quality of life in West Hollywood. Supports of more development have pointed to its economic benefit to the city and to the fact that building more housing is likely to lower housing costs over time. Opponents contest the impact of more housing on housing costs, citing relatively high rents at several new apartment buildings. They also object that such buildings might harm their quality of life by creating more traffic and making parking more difficult to find.

The commission also will consider on Thursday a proposal to demolish a single-family rental unit and a four unit-apartment building at 948-950 San Vicente Blvd. and an eight-unit apartment building at 954 San Vicente Blvd and replace them with a four-story, 18-unit apartment building over a subterranean parking garage. The building would include three on-site units for low- and moderate-income people.

The commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica.


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Donald Vanderyajt
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Donald Vanderyajt

Thanks to the efforts of Victor Omelczenko and others, the necessary signatures were collected and an appeal was presented to the city regarding the 8017-8023 Norton Avenue project. The appeal essentially requests a thorough traffic and environmental impact study, as well as downsizing the project. A huge 5-story building is simply not compatible with the established neighborhood of mainly 1 and 2 story mid century structures. Folks, the appeal to downsize this project can be become a reality. Plans for a downsized building project at 826 N. Kings Road have been proposed following discussions by a citizens group (United Neighbors… Read more »

Donald Vanderyajt
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Donald Vanderyajt

The WeHo Planning Commission folks, in their infinite wisdom (NOT!), have since approved this abomination. However, the fight is NOT over! A petition for an appeal has been generated, the necessary number of signatures acquired and it has been presented to the City. Essentially, the appeal calls for downsizing of this project, as it is hardly compatible with an established neighborhood consisting of mainly 1 and 2 story buildings. This will stick out like a brown thumb monstrosity. Furthermore, it is requested that THOROUGH environmental impact and traffic studies be conducted. Traffic is already a major issue with drivers from… Read more »

Lynn Russell
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Lynn Russell

There are numerous reasons that this proposed building is unacceptable. While the design and massing might be suitable for a main boulevard, it is unsuitable for the scale of Norton, a small side street of low key ambiance. The design violates the spirit of neighborhood compatibility as did another proposed project located at 7914 Norton which I successfully appealed to the City Council in 2011. The 7914 Project evolved into a three story Spanish Colonial Revival inspired design rather than the original offensive four story oversized box grafted on another box. The architect of this project is capable of more… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
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Rudolf Martin

What a perfectly horrendous idea!

I don’t see how anyone can claim to be in favor of affordable housing and permit this project that blatantly decimates our affordable housing stock.

What will happen to the 21 families and tenants in the current existing units?

dp freedrick
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dp freedrick

Welcome to the real WeHo 2.0. This is just a preview of the next decade folks. Interesting that all the “Housing Rights Activists” who have espoused their point of view on the Kings Rd and Beverly Blvd projects have been silent on this. Taking away 21 rent stabilized units to create multi-million dollar condos flies in the face of affordable housing – where is their outcry about how “affordable housing is at the very heart of West Hollywood”? There are seniors and disabled community members who live in these buildings on Norton – what are they suppose to do, get… Read more »

Brian Holt
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Brian Holt

I’m all for updated housing but this is not cool. You can’t take away affordable only to replace with a net loss. Now that’s BullSh*t and needs to be stopped. Dead. In. It’s. Tracks.

TyGeltmaker
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TyGeltmaker

The Planning Commission (aka Demolition Committee) is either in cahoots with these demolitoner-developers or just blind to the fact that while always crying about the real lack of affordable housing they keep allowing existing affordable housing to be demolished, uprooting longstanding rental tenants replaced by expensive condos (with the “poor floor,” as in former ICM Beverly Blvd. building, and other so-called “affordable” units crammed into the corners of each new luxury building, the Commissioners apparently relieving themselves of their deserved social guilt with this fake “affordable” insertion). On my block alone, two 2-unit/2-bedroom beautiful single floor 1920s units are being… Read more »

Jonathan Simmons
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SERIOUSLY

Looking at this NEW design changes made by the Planning Board’s Joint Opinions and settled on their agreed compromise is SERIOUSLY much more IMPOSING and less set back than the first rendering.

STYLE

The first rendering Looks unquestionable better, attractive, more symmetrical in a Traditional Building Concept that styles change, and building to the current taste of the moment, will look dated before construction is finished and will look really dated and unattractive 10-20-30 years increasingly over the decades.

Jonathan Simmons
Guest

Why should we (the city and it’s funds/assets, residents who pay normal tax and other city costs, and land owners in weho) PAY FOR ANYONE’S housing needs WHO IS NOT NOW AN EXISTING WEHO RESIDENT. The Low Income Units go into the weho housing trust fund, and is open to ANYBODY – no weho residential requirement. Also, the entire applying for and wait list is a closely held secret (I would like an open transparent, fair list making sure the people the city gov’t of weho has pledged to serve NOT people living outside weho …. They have the City… Read more »

SaveWeho
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SaveWeho

I think it’s interesting they ask to build higher because, by law, they have to offer affordable housing. That’s the rules. If they don’t like the zoning and the law…they can build their project elsewhere. Why do we have to keep making exceptions for every developer? So in 5 years..the building next to them will be torn down and those developers will ask the same exception. Just one story taller, etc. It has to stop.

Alison
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Alison

Another blow to affordable housing. I hope they disapprove this project, but we all know they will approve it, maybe with small changes. More rent controlled housing lost. This is a regular happening in the Planning Comm. More condos, less rent controlled apartments. West Hollywood is truly turning into a City for the moneyed class.