WeHo’s Plans for Walgreens Lot on Santa Monica Boulevard Get Mixed Reaction

walgreens lot
Site plan for 8120 Santa Monica Blvd. (Courtesy of City of West Hollywood).

Local residents and business owners had mixed reactions last night to a proposal to put a parking lot on the lot at 8120 Santa Monica Blvd. bounded by Crescent Heights Boulevard and Havenhurst Drive.

The lot, which would have 95 parking spaces, would be an interim use of the property until the City of West Hollywood develops a final plan for the one-acre lot, which it purchased in 2015 from Walgreens for $7 million.

Oscar Delgado, the city’s director of public work, said plans are to include art works, including a temporary installation of the famed Bullwinkle, which eventually will be placed at the Sunset Spectacular project on Sunset Boulevard. The lot will include Ginko trees along its border with Santa Monica and crepe myrtle trees in the center of the lot. Helen Collins of Public Works said the city has removed possibly toxic soil from a dry cleaner previously on the lot.

Delgado described the proposed lot as “multimodal,” noting there will be six electric vehicle charging stations, possibly two spaces for Zip short-term rental cars and a WeHo Pedals bike station. Delgado said the parking meters will accept credit and debit cards and eventually Google Pay and Apple Pay payments. And monthly parking permits on the lot will be available.

A rendering of the original Walgreens lot plan.

Some residents objected to adding more parking to their neighborhood, saying there already is enough. Graciela Iparraquirre said a better use of the property would be as a park that includes a place where dogs can play.

Iparraguirre said there already are 241 parking spaces in the area, which includes the 200 spaces in the automated parking garage behind City Hall on Sweetzer Avenue, three blocks away.

“We need a pocket of sanity,” she said, advocating for the park.

Local resident Dan Morin said he saw a contradiction in the city’s claim that it wants to make WeHo more walkable and get people out of their cards and also wants to add more parking spaces.

Morin said he feared that the proposed parking lot would not be replaced by another use anytime soon. “This should not be shoved down our throats,” he said. “Why not a park instead?”

Delgado said the lot had to have some parking-related function given that the city paid for it with money from a city fund dedicated to parking whose revenues come from parking fines and permits. He also said the lot will help fill a gap in parking resources because the city’s lease of the parking lot at 1114 N. Orange Grove Ave. soon will expire. That lot, four blocks east of the 8120 Santa Monica lot, now accommodates 45 cars, and Delgado said the property owner does not intend to renew the lease. Delgado said that, based on the public input, his office would consider adding more green space to the lot.

Marco Cappani, whose Marco’s restaurant was displaced when Walgreens began demolition on the 8120 Santa Monica lot a decade ago, now operates that restaurant from the southwest corner of Havenhurst and Santa Monica. He said those working in his restaurant have trouble finding parking and have to look for spaces on Havenhurst south of Willoughby Drive in Los Angeles.

“I’ve had customers come into the restaurant and say they have driven by so many times and can’t find a place to park,” he said.

David Noe, another resident, said that converting the lot into a park would mean it would attract homeless people. He said his guests have to park three or more blocks away in Los Angeles to visit him.

Plans for the lot have been contentious since Walgreen’s bought it 10 years ago for a reputed $3.5 million. The pharmacy company demolished popular local businesses such as Tasty Donut and Marco’s restaurant and unveiled plans for a multi-use project that drew opposition from local residents who formed a “No Walgreens” advocacy group. The project would have included a large Walgreen’s store and 28 apartments and offered a left turn lane for drivers on Crescent Heights Boulevard headed north toward Santa Monica.

Plans for the project dragged on for a number of years until in 2015, Walgreens, whose financial problems forced it to close 200 of its 8,232 drugstores in the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, offered the land to the City of West Hollywood.

Delgado argued last night that the city’s ownership of the lot, which is in a very prominent WeHo location, means residents “are going to have a much greater voice than if a developer owned it.”

Delgado said it is impossible to project when the city might move forward with other plans for the lot. He said his office plans to hold another neighborhood meeting in the next 45 days to get more input on the plan.


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blueeyedboy
Guest
blueeyedboy

I don’t understand the complaints about parking from some of the people here. There is a lot right across the street on Havenhurst where I have always been able to find a space. In fact I meet friends at Marco’s for Sunday lunch for the very reason that we know parking is not going to be a problem. I park in that lot on other days as well and there are always plenty of empty spaces.

Josh Kurpies
Guest
Josh Kurpies

I’m less concerned about what it is used for temporarily – if surrounding residents and businesses can temporarily benefit from additional parking, fine. If that includes a small pocket park or green space, fine. My hope from the beginning is that the City get the most use from it in the meantime, but the ultimate goal is to use the ownership of the property as leverage to our advantage in upcoming discussions with Metro about the alignment of the future LAX/Crenshaw Northern Extension. If we are to successfully convince Metro to accelerate the project in advance of other listed Measure… Read more »

fine7760
Guest

Santa Monica and Crescent Hghts. would not be a suitable location for a MTA light rail stop since it is not a transfer point to local bus lines. If constructed Fairfax Ave. will be the desired transfer point. With that said as a former MTA employee it is my opinion that the Crenshaw Light Rail line will not run along Santa Monica Bl. Yes, it will run thru West Hollywood as promised but that will be via La Brea Ave. from either Venice Bl. or San Vicente Bl. Why would they build a line that crosses several streets more than… Read more »

Jonathan Simmons
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Jonathan Simmons

LIGHT RAIL LINE: first – I think it would be awesome. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. SMB, SUNSET, FAIRFAX Are already way too narrow for the massive daily traffic. Light rail would require 2 lanes devoted …. There is no physical way light rail (above ground) will ever fit on any east/west or north/south weho streets. Please don’t respond, but if they put light rail in, so many people would use it, there would be so much less traffic so losing 2 lanes would make it faster with light rail. ABSURD. But I am all for public transit, and I think… Read more »

Jonathan Simmons
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Jonathan Simmons

Follow up: My suggestion for free bus (and subway) Will Be very expensive – but compared to the cost peer mile of a subway line, it would be a bargain, traffic would drastically be reduced. I think there has to be BIG park and rides like valley, city, airport, southbay. All new clean fuel busses. Tax the wealthy for parking, the rates getting higher the more crowed the location. Buses in such numbers would make wait times short. (the new long buses are very nice, A/C and big multiple exits. At I think more than 2 billion per half mine… Read more »

Mike
Guest
Mike

Please look up the definition of “interim use” when referring to your position re: parking lot???

This intersection is not suitable for a “dog park.”

Mixed-Use, promenade and green space should be focal.

Madnesd
Guest
Madnesd

To all of those that persist in presenting their ideas and opinions in a shrill demeanor , perhaps you can move ahead to having calm, meaningful sit down conversation with the council member of your choice. Excoriating them into doing it your way just ain’t gonna happen.

Dan Morin
Guest
Dan Morin

No, Manny, we were all listening very closely. Maybe if you had been there, you would understand. But you didn’t participate. At least, we did.

Madness
Guest
Madness

A parklike parking lot with pea gravel and lovely trees……crepe myrtle and ginko trees. Will that make everyone happy? Perhaps not, some will undoubtedly complain about the trees shedding on their cars.

Manny
Guest
Manny

@Dan Morin…Maybe the 11, like yourself, weren’t listening.

You should celebrate this purchase, understand (and believe) that the parking lot is TEMPORARY and look forward to and participate in the process of developing a permanent and useful use for this land.

Don’t be so negative, it’s going to be alright.

Dan Morin
Guest
Dan Morin

I don’t recall mentioning a park but I certainly did state that the site should be for affordable housing. As John Heilman stated when the two houses adjacent to Gelson’s were slated for demolition that if the city owned those two lots, affordable housing would be on that site. I reminded Mr. Heilman of his comment at a subsequent City Council meeting, after the purchase of the land at SMB and CH. Since then – deafening silence. The rationale that Mr. Delgado provided for having a parking lot was that the land was purchased with parking funds. But that logic… Read more »

Earl Eason
Guest
Earl Eason

J Simmons. Guess you and i aren’t reading the same story. 1) You keep repeating in your comments stuff about the toxic waste. The story says the city has removed that. 2) You keep repeating that Walgreens sold the lot because of the toxic waste. The story says Walgreens sold it when (I guess cause of financial problems) it had to close a lot of its existing stores (why would it build a new one if it was closing 200 existing ones). 3) You keep implying that the city paid too much for the lot — suggesting some corrupt behavior.… Read more »

Creative One
Guest
Creative One

Everyone needs to realize that the parking lot is just a temporary solution. Something more permanent will eventually be built on that property.

That said, there’s no reason the city couldn’t add the needed left-turn pocket on Crescent Heights and improve the sidewalk while they are grading the parking lot.

SaveWeho
Guest
SaveWeho

While I’d rather have another affordable housing complex with public parking built into it…I think this is a logical solution. But I would lose the entrance/exit from Santa Monica Blvd. I think that will be a mess with traffic backup and dangerous for the silly people trying to turn left from the lot or zoom across to get in the turn lane to go northbound on Crescent Heights. I’d keep the entrances off Havenhurst and I guess Crescent Heights too but only allow a Right Turn Only when exiting onto Crescent. And I’m just curious…why cant we build a parking… Read more »

J Simmons
Guest
J Simmons

Sorry to repeat: But the whole problem with the lot is underground Toxic Waste. So long as the ground remains undisturbed, there is no triggering of the Federal Toxic Site Cleanup Requirements. A rational double deck parking garage you suggested, would require major reinforced pilons dug and put into very deep holes to be the framework and foundation for any normal two story parking garage. But the inability to disturb the soil makes ANY AND ALL BUILDING OF ANYTHING ON THE LOT IMPOSSIBLE BY FEDERAL LAW. All of which is why the developers dropped the years of Planning for the… Read more »

Fred Thedogue
Guest
Fred Thedogue

How about public bathrooms and showers combined with agencies that serve the homeless and other underserved demographics? Now I’m sure nobody wants to attract more homeless to their street. Too late. They’re here. They’re fellow human beings. They’re not going anywhere. Why not be a leader in being better humans? For most of us, living here is proof enough that we are blessed. Gentrification is a cannibals compliment of sorts after all.
A public/private venture bringing all the various resources needed to make an actual and meaningful difference.
Or a dog park is cool.