Draft Report on Bond Hotel Project Gets Major Pushback

Residents and Planning Commissioners alike gave a blistering rebuke to the draftEnvironmentalImpact Report for the proposed BondHotelproject, thelargehotel-residential complex proposed for Santa Monica Boulevard at Orange GroveAvenue, during Thursday night’s meeting of the West Hollywood Planning Commission.

Illustration of the Bond Hotel and Residences as viewed looking north on Santa Monica Boulevard (Office Untitled architect)

The meeting was only intended to provide feedback for areas in the2,575-pagedraft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that need improvement before the final EIR is turned in. However, this report, prepared by Dudek, an environmental planning and engineeringconsultingfirm, seemed especially weak as far as draft EIRs go.

Problemsnoted repeatedly werethe lack of asection discussing land use and impact, standard in EIRs,and theinclusion ofa traffic study based on out of date information.Several people pointed out the construction mitigation plans seemed underdeveloped.Among the minor problems were incorrect street names inseveralplaces (Fairview instead of Fairfax, Ogden Grove instead of Orange Grove).

“This EIR has a lot of deficiencies and omissions,” commented Commissioner John Altschul.“We went through a long period of time, several years, without having these comment periods on the draft EIRs andI think[thefeedback from this meeting] shows how important it is.”

The Bond Hotel, being developed by the West Hollywood-based Faring development company, is a six-story project with 214,483 square feet of total space.As the only hotel in that part of town, it will feature 86 hotel rooms plusa restaurant and art gallery. The project will also have70 residential units, 11 of which will be set aside for moderate or very-low income residents.

Featuring a 175-space underground parking garage, the project will replace the BrickFitness gymand adjacent surface parking lotat 7811 Santa Monica Boulevard. Additionally, the project will alsoreplacethe 45-space city-operatedsurface parking lot on Orange GroveAvenue and aseven-unitapartmentbuilding on Ogden Drive.

Overall, residents felt the project was far too large for such a small lot, even if it is tying three lots together.

“This is 150 pounds of sugar in a five-pound sack,”commentedresident Cathy Blaivas.

At six stories (71.5 feet tall), many felt the project woulddwarfthe neighborhood, which consists primarily of one- and two-story buildings.Several people said therenderingsof how the project will fit into the neighborhood weredeceptiveas the building depicted insomedrawingswas onlyfive stories tall.

A map of the site of the proposed Bond Hotel and Residences.

Also troubling to some was the lack of any public benefit forthe neighborhood.Several people said it should at least include some sort of public plaza the residents can use.

“It does nothing to create sense of community by walling itself off from the rest of the neighborhood and surrounding itself with driveways,” said area resident Jenny Kriendler.

Tying the commercial and residential lots together into one project is allowed under current city law.(However,the City Council will review its policyaboutsuch lot spanning at its Monday meeting, but anything decided at that meeting will not affect this project).

Residentsandcommissioners alike were quick to point out thecurrentlaw only permitscommercial-residentiallot spanning for projects of 60,000 square feet or more of land. TheBond project only covers 40,000 square feet of land, thereby making it ineligible for certain zoningconcessionsthat are needed to make the project, as currently proposed, feasible.

“Because the Bond Hotel project requires so much maneuvering of the zoning code and encroachment on our neighborhood to achieve its Machiavellian ends, it is not deserving of our approval or that of the Planning Commission,” said area resident Mike Carter, who has spearheaded neighborhood opposition to the project.

Area residentsalsoquickly pointed out the data used for the traffic impactstudyis several years old. The city reconfigured the crosswalk and medianon Santa Monica BoulevardbetweenOgden and Orange Grove over a year ago.

“The traffic study is malfeasant. It is bad,” said Commissioner John Erickson, one of several commissioners saying the traffic study will have to be completely redone.

Residents noted thatstreetparking isalready tightin the areaand will only worsen with this project, as will traffic on the residential streets.

Resident Laura Bocaletti worried about noise from the project disrupting the area. She said noise from the rooftop pool, which could potentially operate 24 hours a day, would spread far into the neighborhood. She also pointed out current plans call for a loading dock to be located directly beside residential buildings.  

Commissioner Adam Bass pointed out the six-story building will surroundtwo sides ofasingle-storybungalow court on Ogden Drive,while Commissioner Lynn Hoopingarner suggested the project would block theocean breeze which helps cool those old apartments.

Of the 16 people speaking during public comment, only two supported the project.Area residentRob Bergstein said a hotelon the Eastside ismuch needed and the new residential units, especially the “affordable units,” are also welcomed.

Andrew Rakos, who lives on Ogden and is an official with the Fountain Day School, locatedat 1128N.Orange Grove directly behind the project, said he supported the project. Nonetheless, hestill had concerns about how such a project would impact the preschoolwhich has 150 students. He worried how noise from the project might disrupt thechildren’snap time, as well as how the air quality might be affected during construction.

Similarly, RakosnotedLos Angeles CountySocial ServicesDepartmentrequiresa parent sign a child in and out of school if the child is under five years old. Withthe loss of the city-run parking lot on Orange Grove,he wondered where parents would park and how thatlack of parking would affect the 64-year-old business.


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Jonathan Simmons
Guest
Jonathan Simmons

I’ll stick to the “design”. Could it be any more ugly?

Ham
Guest
Ham

the area doesn’t need another hotel.

Observer
Guest
Observer

Faring has been very responsive to community concerns (ie…The French Market and Studio One). I believe that Faring will listen to the community and act accordingly.

Jenny Kriendler
Guest
Jenny Kriendler

Nice interactions and listening from Faring doesn’t mean nice outcomes…. their agenda is immensely different than the community and neighborhood who surrounds this site. Hopefully they heard us more loud and clearly at the meeting as we have been giving them the same message from the very beginning.

Jenny Kriendler
Guest
Jenny Kriendler

Thank you Mr. Mills for such a heavy-hitting synopsis of last night! It is so easy to feel defeated by developers, especially this one, but the feeling of empowerment that our Planning Commissioners brought to the table for us residents last night over shadows that defeated feeling ten fold. To finally feel heard and that my opinion mattered against this incredibly offensive project is a testament to how grassroots efforts can make a difference.

Mike Carter
Guest
Mike Carter

We are grateful for this summary of the Planning Commission Hearing on The Bond Hotel/Residence Project at 7811 SMB. As Neighborhood Watch Captains, we have spoken to hundreds of our neighbors. Every single one we spoke to expressed frustration with overdevelopment in West Hollywood. Many feel resigned to the fact that developers will do as they please and that we as residents are powerless to influence development in our City. What went down last night in City Hall Chambers and this summary of events is testament to the fact that YES WE CAN influence development in our City IF WE… Read more »

Loretta Fry
Guest
Loretta Fry

This is a tremendous and favorable outcome at the hearing regarding the Bond Hotel/Residence Project. I am a resident of West Hollywood and have been for over 17 years and am happy that this project is not going ahead – we have a special place here in West Hollywood and would like to keep it that way and in every way. Thank you for everyone who participated in rejecting this project.

Alison
Guest
Alison

Unfortunately, they have not rejected the project, they have just rejected the draft EIR. The developer will just do it over and I bet dollars to donuts, it will get approved somewhere down the line. Do not celebrate yet… People have to keep the pressure on the Planning Commission when it comes up next time and the next time. We cannot let this project ever get built in this neighborhood!

Michael Grace
Guest
Michael Grace

There are two major enemies of the citizens of West Hollywood. Developers and the politicians who take money from them. The indictment of Ed Buck by the Federal Grand Jury moves his case away from the local corrupt WEHO Sheriff and the Los Angeles D.A.. It’s now in federal hands. Since John Doran was Ed Buck’s attorney and he has over $100,000 in Federal Tax Liens, the FBI will start snooping around the ex-Mayor. A big West Hollywood developer who backed John D’Amico is facing Federal charges and the possibility of a 10 year prison term for bribing political officials.… Read more »

Jenny Kriendler
Guest
Jenny Kriendler

We still have a long way to go Loretta… this was essentially having the first chance to say what revisions needed to be made on a first paper that needed to be graded… there will now probably be quite a few drafts of this project moving forward before it is voted on. Without voices like yours continuing to speak up in this process, this developer could get away with things that would be completely intolerable for us residents. The official fight for our neighborhood has now just begun.