WeHo Residents Push Back Against Five-Story Building on La Cienega Blvd. in L.A.

stark properties, west hollywood west residents association, mid city west community council
Solstice building proposed for 431 N. La Cienega Blvd.

West Hollywood West residents got a minor win yesterday in their opposition to a five-story building proposed for a WeHo-adjacent site at 431 N. Cienega Blvd.

Residents turned out at a meeting of L.A.’s Mid City West Community Council to review the project, which would replace the existing Mikey’s Car Wash.

The building would contain 72 apartment units with 70 underground parking spaces and would range in height from 47 to 56 feet. Eight of the units would be priced for very-low income renters. Ohio-based Stark Properties is the developer of the project, which it calls the Solstice.

Residents of West Hollywood West, a neighborhood composed primarily of single-family homes, have objected to Stark’s previous proposals to eliminate the five-foot public right away along Westmount Drive that currently is required by the City of Los Angeles. They also have objected to a Stark proposal to eliminate the required 18-foot setback for a portion of the rear of the building.

Even the 18-foot setback, they have argued, would not eliminate the impact of the relatively tall building on the single-family homes behind it. Among the concerns raised at last night’s meeting was the Solstice’s impact on the privacy of its nearby WeHo neighbors, given plans for it to have balconies and open walkways.

Keith Nakata, co-chair of the Mid City West Planning and Land Use Committee, spoke out against the project at last night’s meeting. “This project is a bridge too far,” he said, suggesting that if it abutted a neighborhood in Los Angeles, transitional heights and set-back rules would be required.

Stark, responding to earlier criticisms from residents and the Mid City West PLUC, already has scaled back the project, which initially was proposed to be 81 feet high with 96 residential units above 14,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space with three levels of underground parking. Stark also has agreed to keep the setback. Overall, the size of the project has been reduced by 28,700 square feet.

As Nakata noted, the project as proposed would not meet standards for the City of Los Angeles, which would require that the levels of a tall building in a commercial district adjacent to a single-family residential neighborhood be staged so that single-family home owners don’t find themselves facing an overly tall wall in their backyards. Also, the L.A. zoning code sets a maximum height of 25 feet for a building within 50-feet of a single-family zoning district.

According to a memo from West Hollywood’s Community Development Department, Stark argues that that wouldn’t apply in any case to the adjoining West Hollywood West lots because they are zoned to allow two housing units per lot.

Finally, West Hollywood West residents have raised questions about the possibility that the lot is contaminated, given that there is a car-related business on it now and that it once housed a gas station. Stark has said that the state Environmental Protection Agency has cleared the site for development.

At last night’s meeting, the Mid-City West Community Council voted 13-7 to support the project on the condition that Stark eliminate the open walkways, prohibit short term rentals, relocate the rooftop
swimming pool to the La Cienega side of the building and have it close at 10 p.m.

The West Hollywood City Council will receive a memo about the project at its meeting on Tuesday. Residents of West Hollywood West are likely to show up at that meeting to ask that the City of West Hollywood push the City of Los Angeles to take steps to reduce the impact of the project.

Rendering of proposed mixed-use building at 431 N. La Cienega Blvd. showing its adjacency to West Hollywood West
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kilroyrogers
kilroyrogers
2 years ago

If one looks at say, Wilshire, there are towers directly backing single family homes and smaller apartment buildings. Their southern exposures disappear, back yards abut an alley and often darkness. City living, I guess. But I for one would not want a five story behemoth backing directly onto my back yard, with balconies looking down on me. A shame that when we had an entire lake basin to build on, we chose to design housing directly against commercial, without a greenspace buffer. Greed. However, if you bought adjacent to a major thoroughfare, you should expect eventual construction and growth. It’s… Read more »

J Simmons
J Simmons
2 years ago
Reply to  kilroyrogers

I agree. Purchasing a home that will be affected by this project knew or should have known of the likelihood of future development. However, once complete, the homes backing the Car Wash will have a nice shady QUIET back yard. May increase those home values w/out a carwash in their backyards.

Concerned resident
Concerned resident
2 years ago

Another small victory towards justice! The West Hollywood neighborhood won the support of the City of West Hollywood, as the city council voted to hire a lawyer to support our concerns and protect our city, and appeal this building if necessary. As one of them stated, this building is a “neighborhood killer”! I want to applaud the City of West Hollywood for taking steps towards making sure we have responsible development – which is something we can all get behind.

Walter M.
Walter M.
2 years ago

I am so pleased that the West Hollywood City Council has approved the hiring of a law firm to represent the West Hollywood neighborhoods that will be impacted by this development. In the words of council member John D’Amico, “this kind of project is a neighborhood killer”. Now, we hope this will not come to pass, and that a building with the appropriate scale can be proposed. Many thanks to Mayor John Heilman, Mayor Pro-temp John Duran, and council members John D’Amico, Lindsey Horvath, and Lauren Meister for their support. This was my first time speaking to the city council… Read more »

Cynthia J Blatt
Cynthia J Blatt
2 years ago

1.If you all are so concerned about the overdevelopment in West Hollywood (I am too) then why do so many of you keep voting for John Heilman, John Duran, Lindsey Horvath, and now (it seems based on his enthusiastic endorsements of Mr. Heilman + Mr. Duran in the last election), John D’Damico. I suggest you take a look at their consistently positive votes for developers and their proposed changes to City zoning codes, (which you can find on the City’s webpage) as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars developers contributed to their campaigns and PACs. (Which you can… Read more »

NO TO IRRESPONSIBLE DEVELOPERS
NO TO IRRESPONSIBLE DEVELOPERS
2 years ago

Cynthia Blatt is correct here. While Mr. Heilman was instrumental in West Hollywood’s, initial development, the needs of the city and residents have changed and dialing in the developer formula is no longer in the job description.. Mr. Duran is generally along for the ride with considerable noise but lacking a discriminating voice. Let’s also remember Mr. D’Amico was ensconced on the Planning Commission when most of the forgettable projects were approved later to be endorsed by Heilman and Duran. Duran was not even capable of introducing a formula to protect the craftsman residences on the East Side without it… Read more »

Jacob O. McBiscuit
Jacob O. McBiscuit
2 years ago

At the last LA Board Meeting, one of its members asked developer Stark Enterprises and its representatives about the reports on the media about huge management issues in one of their luxury buildings in their headquarter state of Ohio. A simple Google search showed several concerning news reports from ABC News Cleveland. If you click on any of the links below you can see how STARK’S luxury development, The Vue in Beachwood Ohio, has been plagued with infrastructure and management problems since Stark took over in 2016, to the point that residents are now on a rent strike. In these… Read more »

lifelong west hollywood resident
lifelong west hollywood resident
2 years ago

I had to “copy and paste” these links in order to open them.

NO TO IRRESPONSIBLE DEVELOPERS
NO TO IRRESPONSIBLE DEVELOPERS
2 years ago

Thank you. Although the behavior relates to a proposed development in Los Angeles, bordering West Hollywood, perhaps it would be appropriate for L A City Council to look into resolutions to prevent these violations from continuing (code compliance) or have a mechanism in place for immediate remedy so as not to become the burden of the tenant. Once issues become “construction defect’ litigation the process is long and slow with the immediate burden on the tenant or in some cases the owner of a condo. Likewise in West Hollywood, at the recent condos on Norton/Sweetzer there have been multiple issues,… Read more »

lifelong west hollywood resident
lifelong west hollywood resident
2 years ago

This developer wants to plop a 5 story “cruise ship” sized building 9 to 18 feet from one story single family homes. Our neighborhood should respectfully fight this monstrosity. It is a luxury building built by a developer who is not interested in anything but maximum profit. Instead of setbacks (50 feet is REQUIRED in Los Angeles), and step backs (also required) to work with the neighborhood, they added balconies and lighted open walkways less than 15 feet from our homes. The truth is (which they admitted) is that setbacks and stepbacks would cost them more.. not that is not… Read more »

NO ON FAKE NEWS
NO ON FAKE NEWS
2 years ago

@LIFELONG WH…….Can you be specific about the “problems” you alluded to w Stark Ent? While no advocate of their project, it would help if you contributed actual information rather than innuendo. A link to the specific issue would also help.

Richard Bourne
2 years ago

Apples to Oranges R1 is just a word. It has no meaning across civic boundaries. Many municipalities do not even have a zone called “R1” The zoning of the houses next to this project is WeHo “R1B.” WeHo R1B allows for multiple units on a parcel. 2 units to start, and up to one unit per every 3500 square feet of land. LA’s R1 only allows 1 unit ever. 1 unit for 5,000 square feet. 1 unit for 25,000 square feet. LA has a zone that is 1 unit per 4000 square feet, it’s called RD4. It has another that… Read more »

Lifelong west hollywood resident
Lifelong west hollywood resident
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Bourne

In west hollywood we have very strict limitations as to height and size of additions or remodeling. We have modestly sized lots and must adhere to much restricted building additions. Most homes in this part of west hollywood are one story less than 1800 square feet. Most are closer to 1400 square feet. To remodel we are restricted to half the overlay of the existing home. We adhere to these restrictions in order to maintain the neighborhood feel of our city. We respectfully ask that this developer work to produce a structure that does not create a dangerous situation for… Read more »

Joshua88
Joshua88
2 years ago

The stakeholders need to come to a consensus. You can’t catch up this way when there is a yearly shortage. Do something reasonable, won’t you?

I agree that on LC it’s okay to have a larger building, if it meets all the other requirements, but I also understand that you don’t want a tall building blocking the sun (etc.), which is what happened in NYC when the developers cast shade on Central Park. That was/is disgusting.

NEIGHBOR SHARING THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS DEVELOPMENT
NEIGHBOR SHARING THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS DEVELOPMENT
2 years ago

Thanks so much for this article, which is only the tip of the iceberg. I happened to attend the LA Board Meeting where this building was discussed. There, I heard West Hollywood residents repeatedly say YES to development and well planned density that improves the lives of all of us, Los Angeles and West Hollywood and NO to irresponsible development, disrespectful of zoning codes, with a primary profit motive. The City of West Hollywood needs to step up to protect the neighbors from this illegal, massive development which would dwarf and would have a permanent, destructive, impact on West Hollywood.… Read more »

Concerned and informed resident
Concerned and informed resident
2 years ago

For all you abundant housing lobbyists/developers who are so single sighted and closed minded, that you think EVERYWHERE is a perfect spot for the largest building possible, in order to solve the abundant housing situation… why don’t you, or the people you know who need housing, move into the LUXE building right next door to this building. There are PLENTY of empty units available in LUXE (not to mention the other NON FULL apartment buildings all around us). And if you’re argument is that LUXE is unaffordable, this developer has promised that this new building will be even “more luxurious”… Read more »

Alison
Alison
2 years ago

For goodness sakes, this is going to be on La Cienega Blvd.! Why shouldn’t it be large? It is smaller than the monstrosities on La Brea, aren’t they? West Hollywood West is always complaining about something. They think just because they own their homes, they can bully others. I’m sick of hearing their bitching.

J Simmons
J Simmons
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison

@ALLISON … YES!!!! This is made up propaganda by the City while they continue to build bigger and bigger in weho. (Allison of “Tara” right? glad to hear your voice. The City has changed so much since “TARA” … Please comment more. THE SIZE OF THE BUILDINGS IN WEHO ARE SO HUGE THEY ARE DESTROYING OUR CITY. BTW: THE “new” Zoning Map for the supposed NEXT 25yr weho plan (over 5 years ago) has almost thew entire street both sides of SMB and SUNSET and the small LA Cienega in WeHo rezoned for MEGA SOVIET BLOCK APARTMENTS (that’s what they… Read more »

Development Woes
Development Woes
2 years ago
Reply to  J Simmons

Unfortunately your information seems to be VERY mixed up and inaccurate.

Development Woes
Development Woes
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison

Alison: You appear to be way off base also. West Hollywood West is an enviable neighborhood because it functions in the way neighborhoods previously did when we all took harmony and fair play for granted. It’s too bad you see their vigilance as bully behavior. When was the last time you embraced positive action in your own hood thinking about your neighbors and community beyond your narrow angst? Keith Nakata by the way, gives endless hours of service to bettering the community for the rest of us. Please thank him and step up to be of personal service…….it may improve… Read more »

Development Woes
Development Woes
2 years ago

JSimmons: Afraid you are missing the point. At the very least Weho leaders should have or if not, create the legal authority to mitigate development directly on Weho borders that will impact our neighborhoods. This is a good example of archicture deficient in aesthetics, sensitivity and/or respect for the immediate & adjacent communities. It is perfunctory revenue stream design. Weho must be sensitive and vigilant within and with those sharing our geography.

J Simmons
J Simmons
2 years ago

No I haven’t missed the point. You just proved it. City Propaganda. The CITY OF WEHO FIRST NEEDS TO TAKE CARE OF WHAT IS BUILT IN WEHO. Aesthetically, I think it is better looking (and smaller) than any built or plans for, new development in weho. Being sensivete outside weho is for a Active Functioning City. Who is anything but. Thank you. EVERYONE – he made my point. Look him fight against this OUTSIDE WEHO without a word about the really big and ugly in weho projects … THAT BY THE WAY AFFECT TWO CITIES ADJACENT TO THE CITY OF… Read more »