Opinion: In This Construction Zone It Sure Isn’t Kansas Anymore, Dorothy!

In the early days of our cityhood, a council member answered one of my simple questions with a shrill “Oh, you people!”, certainly putting me in my place: At the end of the line, after developers and social programs. Residents would soon learn their place in the hierarchy. It seems we were regarded as wealthy folk, we who owned our homes, who would just have to wait our turn. When I later relayed this event to Tom Hayden, he looked blankly at me for a moment and then laughed. “It’ll cost you,” he said.

And so it has. The West Hollywood West Residents Association has spent a fair amount of cash in efforts to reign in projects that would greatly impact the residents in our section of the city. Some we won and some we lost, but all cost money. We were fervent in our concerns and actions because we felt that the city had but a single aim: To bring in any element that would enrich the city coffers by enlarging the tax base. And the city has succeeded as we residents continue to parry the thrusts from City Hall and a cadre of developers.

8741 Dorrington Ave., aka “Edna’s House.”

Some of us who have lived on my block for a few decades still refer to it as “Edna’s house,” a reference to the deceased former resident at 8741 Dorrington Ave., which had been Edna’s home since the late 1930s. Even with only a few owners, the place has undergone some extensive remodeling and a small addition. Now, according to the yellow sign outside, it will be demolished and replaced by something of an entirely different character, possibly to meet the expectations of a well-to-do young couple who want to live closer to the center of our burgeoning little city.

This is, of course, a form of progress, but there are some important considerations about this project to view carefully. Plans call for the removal of a 960 square foot, single-story residence and replacement with a two-story building with a full basement – an element seldom found in the residential sections – for a total of about 3,500 square feet. Aside from that, the new building is likely to resemble the many new two-story houses on the Westside (Watch out Eastside!) Further, it is likely to be a harbinger of things to come. We can only stare, we cannot prevent people from doing what they will with their property as long as it meets the approval of the regulators. We can however, insist that the following issues be considered with solutions applied to any and all residential building projects:

Heavy construction equipment exceeding street load limits of 6,000 pounds (it was up to 150,000 on a previous site on this block) on the site and street.

A parade of dump trucks with many trips to remove the excavated soil. In the past these trucks have arrived on site as early as 7 a.m. and sit with engines idling. Air quality management district (AQMD) rules for diesel emissions should be considered.

Blocked sidewalks forcing pedestrians, including elderly persons with walkers, to unnecessarily cross the street to get to their destination. Clear, safe walkways must be provided.

Noise levels well above allowable limits (In California the city must use properly calibrated noise monitors) The effect on human behavior of constant noise above 70 dBA (A weighted decibels) is well established. Sound-absorbing curtains for the site fencing are recommended.

Dirt and dust. A water truck or hose line must be on site during all of the demolition process. Dust travels and gets into houses.

Diesel exhaust from on-site equipment and trucks. AQMD rules should apply and be enforced

Sreet blockades by waiting dump trucks or other equipment or materials that might impact our current heavy traffic flow. While they might be welcomed by some, they only increase congestion.

Difficulty getting in and out of our driveways. Even now with the greater traffic flow of up to 700 vehicle trips per day, we must often go into the street to stop cars so we can get out

Reduced parking due to worker vehicles and equipment, most of which may not have permits and reduce permissible parking for residents, their guests and their service providers.

Lack of long-range planning regarding the allowance of over-lapping projects in a single street or neighborhood. We are aware of two now pending on this block.

A full-time English-speaking foreman or supervisor on the jobsite and a sign posted at the street perimeter of the site with information about the constructor and a phone number where he can be reached if necessary.

A firm completion date. We are aware of one project well into its fourth year and another entering its third year.

If ever an EIR (environmental impact report) would be required, this noted project in a prime example of how far-reaching the consequences of living in the proximity of such a project can be. Some call it progress, others a disruption of ordinary life. But we all know that while change is inevitable, it must be managed for the good of all.

If you wish to comment on this building project, send an email to dpurificacion@weho.org – reference Master Permit 17-0032 -8741 Dorrington Ave.

  1. These are great suggestions, Carl.

    On my very short West Hollywood West block 7 homes were sold to two or three developers and are currently waiting for permits or are under construction. These were small bungalows or duplexes and all will be replaced with large single family homes that loom over their neighbors. After five or six years of start and stop work, still another developer has recently completed a project that is on the market for over $5,000,000.

    Meanwhile, the yards and parkways of these projects are littered with trash and dead landscaping. At least three homes were homeless encampments for months until the developer finally put up fencing. Construction workers monopolize the street parking.

    Am I bitching and moaning? You bet. We’re all entitled to the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of our homes.

    1. Leslie, were all these projects started before the Design Guidelines were instituted and what has been the situation since? $5Million? Yikes, I’d love to see just what a developer feels qualifies for that price. Can you give the address please?

  2. “Frank” thinks the proposed 3,590 sq ft house (with full basement) qualifies as “affordable”. He must also think $1,000,000 constitutes a “small loan” from one’s father.

  3. I’m sorry, but every time there is a project up for development in the City’s West Side, the West Hollywood West Resident’s Association bitches and moans. Some of the bullet points on this op-ed are over reaching. The WHWRA is our Silverstein and La Mirada (look to Hollywood).

    1. Hey “Snarkygal” welcome back, and thanks for the compliment. Too bad this op-ed is about multi-million dollar single family homes, not the big “developments” you like so much.

      Let’s talk about this over sushi.

  4. And the complaints about the firm construction dates ring hollow to me because many lawsuits were filed by the same people to delay delay delay projects left and right.

  5. Or maybe, jist maybeee, it’s not all about you, the poor homeowner, all the time ? Maybe, just maybe other people actually want to live here too and the city wants them to have affordabka housing too? The victim complex of many of those fortunate enough to already own homes here is astounding

    1. LOL, “affordabka housing”?!…..You mean the $4.2 million single family homes that Mr. Cronin is referring to?

      Come on YIMBY “Frank”, you can do better than that. (or can you?)

  6. Mr. Cronin has brought these concerns to the attention of the City Council and the Sheriff’s Department for many years. What does it take to get either/both to address the most basic concerns of longtime homeowners?

  7. The frustration your article subtly expressed is shared by many of we WeHo residents and fans. From the day I signed one of the petitions for Cityhood, I had hoped our town aka village would grow but not the way it is currently. HOTELS, MIXED USED BUILDINGS, destruction of iconic restaurants, dance clubs and other buildings seem to be the way we’re going…instead of redeveloping long ignored and some abandoned properties. Property Development is a business like the greedy landlords who got the State to kill “rent management” in cities. So our “village” is changing into the type of city we hoped to diss-associate ourselves from (LA). Change is inevitable but it can be guided, managed and directed. I’m just disappointed in the direction.

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