It’s usually the twice-monthly meetings of the West Hollywood City Council that draw a crowd (the next one is Monday, March 2). But Thursday’s meeting of the Planning Commission may be well attended because of the heat that already is being generated about some of the four public hearings on its agenda.
One is the proposed demolition of the Chevron service station on the northwest corner of Holloway Drive and La Cienega Boulevard. It includes a 24-hour convenience store, three car repair service bays and gas service pumps.
Bijan “Ben” Pouldar, who is identified as the owner of the property, proposes constructing a 2,584-square-foot, multiple-tenant commercial building with a 24-hour convenience store and an attached 900-square-foot automated car wash. “The existing service pumps, underground gasoline tanks, and canopy will remain,” says a memo from the city’s Planning and Development Services Department.
Pouldar is seeking a “conditional use” permit, which would effectively bring the property into compliance with zoning for the commercial zone. He also is seeking permission for the convenience store to sell beer and wine for off-site consumption. The Planning Department is recommending that sale of beer and wine only be allowed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Pouldar is asking for 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.) and that the car wash be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Pouldar is asking for 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.)
One issue raised by the Planning Department was possible noise from the car wash, which will be reduced by building a shroud over the drying area.
The Planning Department recommends the Planning Commission approve the project. However, several nearby residents object to it, with two, in emails to the Planning Department, unhappy about the loss of the car repair and smog check services. Others, including the 92 owners of units at the nearby Alta Loma Road condominium, are objecting to what they see as a possible increase in traffic congestion and the sale of alcohol attracting homeless people. A number of residents who have used the Chevron station to get their cars repaired are objecting that the car repair area will be removed.
The Hotel at 8950 Sunset Blvd.
The Commission will consider a request from the owner of the property at 8950 Sunset Blvd. between Hilldale Avenue and Hammond Street request to extend and amend already approved entitlements, or exceptions to zoning rules, for the project.
As reported earlier, the project has been in the works for about 20 years. In 1999 the site was announced as the location for the Astra hotel. It then was purchased in 2005 for $16.5 million by the James hotel chain. But in 2013 a European hotel group bought the property for $28 million. The proposed 168,583 square-foot mixed-use hotel development would contain 165 guest rooms, four residential units, restaurants, bar, spa, retail and meeting room uses, and 432 underground parking spaces.
The Planning Department is asking the Planning Commission to reject the request.
“The planning permits to develop the property at 8950 Sunset Boulevard with a mixed-use hotel project were approved over 20 years ago and the environment surrounding the project site has since changed significantly,” says a memo to the Commission. “Any proposal to develop the site should be analyzed with a fresh perspective to ensure its consistency with the city’s current land use goals and a thorough analysis of the potential environmental impacts under current conditions. The applicant stopped all work on the project entitlements over 17 months ago and there has been no justification submitted to approve additional extensions, which is the permittees burden.”
1150 N. Orange Grove Ave.
Representatives of Fred Houriani, the owner of this 7,550-square foot-lot on Orange Grove between Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, will bring before the Planning Commission a different version of a development proposed and approved in 2017.
That proposal was for a four-story, seven-unit apartment building designed by Amit Apel that would have replaced two single-family homes currently on the lot. One of the units in the project was to have been set aside for low-income residents. The Planning Commission initially asked that the design be revised, expressing concerns about unenclosed stairways that violate the city’s building code and the design of its outdoor space. It gave its final approval on Nov. 30, 2017.
The Commission on Thursday will review a new design by architect Giovanni Fruttaldo that will have nine units, with one of them designated as affordable. The new design was endorsed by the Design Review Subcommittee, which made several suggestions that the developer has incorporated. The city Planning Department is recommending that the Planning Commission approve the proposal.
Eliminating Restrictions on Number of Affordable Housing Units
The Commission also will hold a public hearing on a proposed change in the city’s zoning ordinance that would eliminate a restriction on the number of dwelling units that could be included in a project where all units are designated as affordable and that would allow such a project to be as many as three stories higher than what the property currently allows.
That change is required because of one of a number of recent laws passed by the state legislature to address California’s serious housing shortage. Those laws override local restrictions on development that have been a major factor in the housing shortage. The measure that is going before the Planning Commission would, for example, permit the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation’s plan to construct a seven-story building with up to 100 units of affordable housing in North Wetherly Drive.
The Planning Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica. Parking is free in the five-story structure behind the Chambers with a ticket validated at the meeting.