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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org – reference Master Permit 17-0032 -8741 Dorrington Ave.