Opinion: This City Council Is Giving the City Away

The sitting City Council is granting favors to real estate developers rather than doing its job, which is to protect and advocate for the residents of the city. Time after time, it approves outsized real estate projects that are not in conformity with the law of West Hollywood, as set forth in the city’s General Plan and zoning code. What’s worse, it ignores required procedures designed to give the public a voice in city government.

west hollywood west residents association, architect
Richard Giesbret

The 8899 Beverly Blvd. project is a recent, glaring example of government for the developers, by the developers’ lawyers, and of a sellout City Council. The city approved a project to produce luxury condos in the million-dollar range, a project to double the size of a building that was already too large to comply with the General Plan for the city, nonconforming with its zoning, and not within the guidelines set for applying the General Plan. What did your city government do? It simply changed the General Plan, changed the zoning and cherry-picked guidelines to justify the project — everything the developer asked for.

After the city Planning Commission had turned down the project, the City Council played procedural tricks, allowing the developer to bypass the Planning Commission and fast-track the monster project directly through the council. Then when the developer discovered that it had not obtained the rights to take over a strip of dedicated green space it wanted for the project, it proposed that the city give it the rights to use that property for free. The City Council decided that trees and green space had to go and was on the verge of giving the right to use the land to the developer until residents suggested at a City Council meeting that maybe the city shouldn’t be giving the city’s green space away to a developer for free, but ought to get paid for it.

The City Council sent that issue to the council staff to come up with a dollar value for the rights to the green space, and the staff now disregards residents’ requests to provide input on the valuation. They won’t even say who will make the call, or on what basis it will be made. City Council members do not return phone calls related to this matter.

This City Council is working against the residents of the city, rather than for them. It is caving in to every outrageous demand the real estate developers make. It is playing games with the municipal code, state law and with the reasonable inquiries of its residents. It’s time the City Council started doing its job of governing runaway development, rather than lying down on the job.

Richard Giesbret is an architect and president of the West Hollywood West Residents Association.

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Bechamel
Bechamel
3 years ago

Mike

That’s an opinion which you haven’t bothered to refute with facts.

Obsessing over “property values” – just the dollars – misses the point: the real value is the quality of life in our homes and on our streets.

Opining that green space on our streets can be sacrificed because the City has a park a half-mile away, is irrelevant to people who will be forced to live in the shadow of this bloated real estate development.

You sound like you’re in the business of real estate. We’re not..

Mike
Mike
3 years ago

This article is biased and misstatements the actual findings, legal or otherwise. With bits of truth mixed throughout, the article opinion is false and erroneous. The issue of 8899 Beverly Blvd. has been debated, revisited, litigated and still litigated ad nauseam. In the final analysis, 8899 will be a beautiful addition to Beverly Blvd. Design District. Life and amenities to the local and citywide resident’s will be an addition that currently cannot be fully envisioned nor will WHW allow to be envisioned. Rosewood is a no-brainer. Adding homes facing homes will replace a black tar parking lot. Still, WHW cannot… Read more »

JESS - Registered Voter
JESS - Registered Voter
3 years ago

“Latest Review Shows 18% Voter Turnout and More Ballots to Review.” as said in WeHoVille else where, clearly says the people that live in WeHo simply do not care about the city. If one does not have the time or inclination to be concerned about our city, our county, our State, but bitch and moan about the President. Makes no sense. SHAME on us!

Nir Zilberman
Nir Zilberman
3 years ago

Jess, i agree with you 100%. If this was LADY GAGA concert, everyone would show up!
Remember 80% of our residents are renters and they really don’t care,
they stay in our city 1-2 years and then the move on to more affordable cities around us
so sad.
I’m in TEL AVIV, but i made sure i voted by mail.

90069
90069
3 years ago

I was at the design review meeting for Domain and no one spoke about how “ugly” it is. There were a handful of people mostly those connected with developers that took the time out of their schedules to attend the short evening meeting. So it is pathetic to now complain about it and act like there wasn’t a venue to make your voice heard. Some people just want to rage and not actually participate in a meaningful way.

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
3 years ago

Oops, Tom Smart agees, the voters, not so much.

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
3 years ago

Absolutely agree!!! Thanks Richard!!!

Richard K.
Richard K.
3 years ago

Spot on Richard and speaking of spot on did anyone mention the spot zoning approved for Restoration Hardware that looms over Melrose like a castle? Our Council’s never seen a zoning bonus they haven’t approved.
Larry, follow the money!

JJ
JJ
3 years ago

I agree with Webuilthiscity. This City is a desirable place to live because of the work that Duran and Heilman have done over the years. Hoping they get re-elected tonight.

Leslie K
3 years ago

Well said, Richard!

Webuilthiscity
Webuilthiscity
3 years ago

Whiners Let’s have every delapitated building NOT get approved for re-development and see how happy everyone is when homeless people and crack addicts take up residence in the buildings. The “green space” Dick refers to is an assessment- NOT a park. It was to be used to enlarge the street as part of the general plan and wasn’t ever deemed green space for residents. His statement about this is extremely misleading. Another thing you whiners need to keep in mind is these developers pay millions of dollars to improve our public spaces. These are the deals that our City Council… Read more »

Lynn
Lynn
3 years ago

Richard, I respectfully disagree with you. 8899 is an extremely handsome building. The Beverly Blvd site can handle the size and scope. The town homes facing Rosewood are well designed and a definite aesthetic Improvement to the untended scratch/scrub “park space ” that folks want to hang on to. These seems to be an attitude resistant to the eventual reality of construction noise and activity. Everyone gets it…. folks don’t like noise, they want things to remain the same but if you purchase a house on the edge of a neighborhood adjacent to commercial area SOMETHING WILL happen. It’s very… Read more »

Carla
Carla
3 years ago

B.A.N.A.N.A.S.

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