Neighborhood Council Opposes Plans to Modify Sunset/Crescent Heights Intersection

Despite Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu’s support of it, the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council voted unanimously on Wednesday night to oppose plans to slightly modify the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard, just a few hundred feet north of the West Hollywood border.

Under the proposed plan, the City of Los Angeles would eliminate the merging lane from eastbound Sunset Boulevard to southbound Crescent Heights.  Instead, a dedicated right-turn lane would be created on the southwest corner of that intersection along with a dedicated right-turn arrow on the stoplight.   

Once the merging lane is eliminated, it and the adjacent triangle-shaped traffic island will be converted into a public plaza as part of the giant retail-residential project that developer Townscape Partners plans to build at the 8150 Sunset Blvd. site.

At the same time, the bus stop currently on the traffic island will be relocated a block east to the southwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Laurel Avenue (in front of the CB2 furniture store in the 8000 Sunset shopping plaza).

Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu

At Wednesday night’s meeting, the 20-member Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council had minimal discussion before unanimously voting to oppose the “street vacation,” as it is officially called.

“We prefer they leave it the way it is,” explained Orrin Feldman, the first vice president of the neighborhood council. “We don’t think that proposed street vacation makes the site or the community safer. It just doesn’t. It’s a dangerous intersection.”

Renee Weitzer, senior advisor on land use and development issues for Councilmember David Ryu, told WEHOville that the neighborhood council’s opposition vote will not change Ryu’s position.

“He supports it,” Weitzer said. “It goes before the [full Los Angeles City Council] on Dec. 3, and it’s going to be approved.”

In issues affecting a single council district, the 15-member Los Angeles City Council almost always follows the wishes of the council member representing that district, so Ryu’s support is essentially all that’s needed.

In a council subcommittee meeting on Nov. 7, Ryu cited improved pedestrian safety as the reason for his support.

Weitzer explained the street vacation and creation of the public plaza was originally adopted by the full Los Angeles City Council as part of the council’s approval of the 8150 Sunset project in November 2016.

Three different lawsuits were filed against the project, but the courts ruled in favor of the 8150 project each time. However, one of the court rulings said a separate hearing had to be held regarding the street vacation.

There is an official process for approving such a street vacation – an engineer does a report and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation also does a report, followed by public hearings on the matter.

“Those departments swear to God it’s going to be a much better intersection,” Weitzer told WEHOville.

Ryu did add several conditions of approval for the street vacation. Townscape cannot close the merging lane until the dedicated right turn lane has been installed. That work must be completed within two years or the street vacation expires.

In addition, if the 8150 Sunset project is sold to another developer and/or undergoes a substantial redesign, the developer must reapply for the street vacation.

If at any point in the future (even 10 years from now), the city decides that eliminating the merging lane was a mistake, it can take the land back and reinstall the merging lane.  Townscape must place $2 million in an escrow account to cover the expense of rebuilding that merging lane.  If the city decides it is happy with the plaza and dedicated right turn lane, then it can use the $2 million on traffic improvements elsewhere.

Plans call for the 8150 Sunset project, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry (who created the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles), to have 219 apartment units and 30 condominiums. Twenty-eight of those units will be for low- or moderate-income residents but the rest will be market rate. With five separate buildings planned for the site, it will also have 65,000 square feet of retail space, including 23,000 square feet of restaurant space, 12,000 square feet of shops, a 25,000 square foot supermarket, plus a bank and dance/yoga studio.

8150 Sunset Blvd. (Design by Gehry Partners. Rendering by Visualhouse)

When construction begins, the site’s historically designated Lytton Savings building, now a Chase Bank, will meet the wrecking ball. Designed by noted Southern California architect Kurt Meyer, the highly praised mid-century-modern building with its zig-zag folded plate roof, glass walls and interior artwork offered a radical architectural departure from traditional staid bank buildings when it opened in 1960. Preservationists have fought to save the Lytton building or move it to another site but have been unsuccessful.

Townscape has not yet obtained building permits for the 8150 Sunset project and is at least six months away, if not longer, from getting them, according to Weitzer. However, demolition permits have been issued for both the Lytton Savings building and the accompanying shopping center building (which includes a McDonalds). Persistent rumors say Townscape has asked all tenants to vacate the buildings by Dec. 31, but WEHOville has been unable to verify that date.

The 8150 Sunset Blvd. lot is the location where the famed Garden of Allah hotel complex sat for almost 40 years. The Garden of Allah buildings were demolished in 1959 to make way for the Lytton Savings building and shopping center currently on the site.


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Wesley McDowell
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Wesley McDowell

Are these people crazy?!
Forget about the development, even if the property remains as it is changing this intersection is a huge improvement. As it is, a pedestrian has to cross 2 unprotected lanes. Having a signal with walk lights is immensely safer.

Vigilant
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Vigilant

The current street vacation plans submitted included a very narrow, not well thought out engineer’s report that addressed the benefits to the development rather than the safety of the intersection itself. Advisor Weitzer is under the impression that it will be corrected later on down the line but offered no specifics. The city has seemingly accepted the fact that it is an “F” rated intersection, thrown up their hands and have done nothing to improve it. Please contact the office of Council Member Ryu and make your feelings known.

BURT GORALNICK
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BURT GORALNICK

The developers got a quick approval for the “ugly” project because it was next to public transportation!! Now they want to move the “public transportation” The Bus Stop away from the project and get FREE land!!!!
Somebody….is on the take$$$$$

Michael Grace
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Michael Grace

What’s more dangerous, the island or this massive building being build on the Hollywood earthquake fault?

Oh no
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Oh no

It’s all good silly. The buildings will of course be “earthquake” proof!

RobbyDobby
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RobbyDobby

This proposal actually would make the intersection safer. As a blind person who travels with a Guide Dog, the current intersection is not just a challenge, it’s down right risky, not just to me to cross, but for everyone. I wholeheartedly support this change…

JF1
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JF1

The current traffic island is dangerous and an eyesore.

Lesley O'Toole
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Lesley O'Toole

“Slightly” modify? This is a drastic modification of this already dangerous intersection. Did Ryu not insist he favoured “reduced pedestrian traffic exposure” when his own plan increases it? This is a disaster waiting to happen. Our local firefighters have already noted that the Sunset/Gardner development just east from this site will substantially impact their response times. Seriously, can we even begin to imagine the utter chaos that will ensue at this location if this is allowed to proceed? And meanwhile, the developers don’t want bus passengers blighting their landscape? Unconscionable.

Eric Daniel
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Eric Daniel

I’m not one of those historic preservationist people. But in the photo above, that thing looks ugly. it just doesn’t seem to fit with the surroundings. The retail aspect of that thing is going to make traffic congestion worse at a difficult intersection.

JF1
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JF1

The project is already approved. What is being considered now is a slight modification to the merge lane going east on Sunset merging to the southbound Crescent Heights traffic.

Vigilant
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Vigilant

Since Councilmember David Ryu is beginning his campaign for re-election he should perhaps consider his position on 8150 Sunset to be the wrong step.

Burt Green
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Burt Green

Great idea.