Opinion: When It Comes to Housing, WeHo Should Build Bridges, Not Walls

West Hollywood has a distinguished history of welcoming residents from the entertainment and creative industries and diverse backgrounds and ages. In fact, West Hollywood first came to the attention of filmmakers as a place to live in the 1920s. They were attracted by the less-restrictive lifestyle offered here compared to life in Los Angeles just to the east. And it’s this very same progressive, creative environment that attracts so many of us to West Hollywood today.

New Filmmakers
Larry Laboe

One aspect of life that comes with working in the entertainment and other creative fields is uncertainty. If you want to know exactly what you’re going to be doing a year from now this may not be the right career path for you.

That includes where you live. Many people in filmmaking, entertainment and other creative endeavors often live in one place for months at a time, but that varies based on the projects they are working on. (This is increasingly common across a wide range of careers as the workplace and our lives become more mobile.)

Flexible-leasing apartments (with leases of a duration between one month and one year) are common in West Hollywood and provide a perfect solution for individuals who want to live here but who, for any number of circumstances – work, relationship status, school – are not able to sign a one-year lease.

Now some in the West Hollywood city government are calling for an end to flexible-leasing apartments in our community. They are saying if you can’t buy a house, buy a condo or sign a one-year lease on an apartment you are not welcome to live in West Hollywood – go somewhere else!

On Tuesday night, Sept. 4, the City Council is hearing an appeal of a Planning Department “interpretation” that the term “dwelling unit” refers to apartment leases of no less than one year. Previously the term has been taken to mean 31 days or more. In fact, the city’s own website says apartments must be rented for 31 days or more. (The city’s response to this obvious contradiction is that the Planning Department isn’t governed by what the city’s website says.)

Of course, rules applied to one building must be applied uniformly across the city. So, what’s at stake Tuesday night is the ability for ALL renters in West Hollywood to live here without the higher threshold of signing a one-year lease. Beyond the entertainment industry this new exclusionary housing policy will impact millennials, persons of lesser means and a wide range of apartment buildings, including many mom and pop landlords.

This new policy goes against West Hollywood’s welcoming spirit that’s at least 100 years old!

I hope you will join me at the City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, Sept. 4th at 6:30 p.m. at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. and tell the City Council NOT to pull up the drawbridge and NOT to exclude people working in creative fields from living in West Hollywood.

  1. I don’t agree with these assertions that the city is preventing a new generation of creative minds. I think it pertains only to those with disposable income who choose to live on their terms in this city for bragging rights or to say they can just use it as a cone up to brag that one lives near the Hollywood hills or in Weho near condos or celebrities. This is a city founded 35 years ago to protect those people living on rent control. No mention of that. You never mentioned laws or ordinances or what voters enacted all so you could advocate for yourself and your friends to live a lifestyle that possesses a new Hollywood that dictates who lives here not city hall and it’s all about displacement and people taking what they think is their neighborhood away from locals. Sorry not every argument is my right to live here temporarily because I want bragging rights and selfies and photo ops for my Facebook page. I am not moving out of the city for no one especially not for social networkers, social climbers and social status seekers to want to be in a hub of West Hollywood as its Hollywood West! Go find another 1.4 mike city this one is off limits!

  2. I think you opinion piece might slightly be inaccurate. The developers tried to invoke their own interpretation of the West Hollywood affordable housing ordinance passed not only by council but by voters 6 years ago when it pertains to new development and tax incentives. All these properties developers have all but ignored, played stupid, or blatantly refused to uphold their agreement to affordable units by getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in the luxury condo market now they are playing Access Denied on their own terms and calling a ban on short-term rentals preventing creative minds. No, the reality is that they want more money from the wealthy visitors or to accommodate the needs of a small percentage of elite while never having the intention of renting out any percentage of units as affordable and contest laws or seek legal action not to uphold their agreement. If you have millions to spend I guess you can ignore local laws and their own law of return supersedes that of the voters and residents.

  3. The arguments presented are quaint, but not supported by any economic fact. Let’s hope we are never in a position of doing an end-run around zoning ordinances, permitting processes, and the best interests of the long-term residents who make West Hollywood home and add to its charms, which sadly are waning, in large part due to the increasing drive to make it more theme park, and less home. I’m all for balance, but this issue tips the balance in the wrong way. My neighborhood is a lovely balance of long-term resident, mixed with short-term (1-2 year) residents. Both bring a nice flavor to the neighborhood. I see no community value to the very short term residents–they’re called tourists, and we have more than enough hotels for tourists.

  4. The 31 days applies to the month to month status that individuals, who have committed to being residents, achieve after their long-term lease expires.

    It’s unconscionable that the author of this opinion piece would say that his scheme helps “persons of lesser means”. What it really does is cater to people with lavish expense accounts and well to do travelers who don’t have to work and can enjoy extended vacations….all at the expense of much needed housing for permanent residents.

    Get a room!

  5. The City Council has the obligation to be committed to the decisions that they make. The Residents need to know that what has been decided will remain in effect. In addition, Council should not deviate from the Master Plan by cherry picking what rules apply to whom. Doing so is slowly deteriorating their Credibility and Integrity as Leaders.

    I would like to think that people move to West Hollywood because they want it to be their home and not just a place go “stay” until they “the spirit” moves them go somewhere else. We have plenty of Hotels for that. There is nothing wrong with a one year lease and I have sent a letter the Councilmembers urging them to not change their minds again. I am in the process of buying the apartment building I live in. I will always require a one year lease.

  6. Someone has a bee in their bonnet who doesn’t understand the situation.

    The situation at 8500 Sunset is a bit more complicated than what the author makes it seem. Start here: https://www.wehoville.com/2018/08/30/weho-city-council-will-hear-appeal-decision-barring-short-term-rentals-8500-sunset/

    The developers were caught short-changed by the MUCH NEEDED short-term rental ordinance that the City Council passed while their project was in development, an ordinance which has already helped renters in this city, let alone the benefits after it settles in for a bit more time. Not only are rents coming DOWN, but more and more “For Rent” signs are popping up all over the city.

    People who need places to stay short-term can go to a HOTEL. And as for West Hollywood needing to destroy affordable housing to accommodate people in the entertainment industry, I never heard of such frippery.

    If you’re going to make a case, at least base it on something real, and not an imaginary gypsy lifestyle.

    1. Close, but no. The original developers received permits and built the building as rental housing. It was either just before or just after it was completed, they sold it to the current owners who claim “they didn’t know”….as if. This is about a property owner trying to take a residential apartment building and turn it into a hotel. If that’s the kind of investments they want to make, let them build an extended stay Marriott hotel somewhere else. But this building was always to be rental apartments for new or current residents of West Hollywood. You know, residents, the kind of people who care about the city they live in and aren’t hotel guests just passing through.

  7. The issue is this building was built under the approval of being condos I believe. That flopped. So now its trying to be a Hotel in a way with one month rentals. That’s not what it was approved for. This isnt about closing the draw bridge its about developers holding to the agreements made with the city when they are approved to build a project.

  8. Personally, I have never heard of “flexible leasing apartments”. I always thought leases were for one year, except for short-term like those WeHo has banned. I don’t see how this will impact persons of lesser means like this person says. It will only impact those who don’t want to sign yearly leases, which I think is only those in Entertainment industry jobs.

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