Chevron Station, 8950 Sunset Hotel, 1150 N. Orange Grove — The Planning Commission’s Busy Agenda

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.

Illustration of the proposed Chevron gas station, car wash, and convenience store on the northwest corner of Holloway Drive and La Cienega Boulevard

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.

An illustration of the proposed hotel at 8950 Sunset Blvd. near Hammond, viewed from Sunset Boulevard looking west. (Three: Living Architecture)

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.

Illustration of proposed development at 1150 N. Orange Grove Ave. (Architect Giovanni Frutalldo)

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.

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Pragmatic
Pragmatic
6 months ago

The planning commission seems to have lost all sense of reason, decency, and respect for the residents of the Norma Triangle, primarily for the residents on Cynthia north to Sunset who are slowly being suffocated by major construction projects that will be concentrated in a few square blocks, adding density to one area that’s unlike anything seen before. This started with the new, gargantuan, Edition hotel at Sunset and Doheny that soaked up every square inch of that corner, lucky to have squeezed in sidewalks. Now a new hotel complex, James Hotel at 8950 with 165 rooms with 432 parking… Read more »

JF1
JF1
6 months ago

Seven stories in the Norma Triangle – which is mostly single family homes – in not in sync with the scale and character of the neighborhood.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
6 months ago

Is this really an issue? Plenty of places for car servicing and gas.

Oh no
Oh no
6 months ago

It would seem to me that residents should be pleased the the property owner actually wants to KEEP this a gas station regardless if the iteration there of. If I was him & didn’t get this approved, I’d probably be quite tempted to sell the property for millions of dollars. Then undoubtedly a developer would purchase it, it would cease to be anything, wld sit vacant for years & wld eventually be a several story something. People would then really be concerned about traffic. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth people. So ya lose a garage repair place… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
6 months ago
Reply to  Oh no

Please just Google Biijan Pouldar and check it out for yourself. Among myriad law suits, he appears to be a “developer” of gas station focused minimarts that will provide the minimum of self- service and pay the lowest wage to minimal attendants for his maximum return. Bye, bye to the convenient and apparently much appreciated auto repair business, bye bye to the technicians, who will be waiving bye, bye bye to their jobs. All these folks will be out of work so West Hollywood can waive welcome to an automated car wash that employs few. But the owner will be… Read more »

Pragmatic
Pragmatic
6 months ago
Reply to  Oh no

Yes that could happen, in the best doomsday scenario, or maybe everything will remain as it is.

Greg
Greg
6 months ago

My concern is the 24 hour store selling beer and wine will attract vagrants like 7-11 across the street. If they power wash and don’t allow loitering, I’m fine with it. But we don’t need an expansion of 7-11’s problems crossing into the otherwise residential block.

Pragmatic
Pragmatic
6 months ago
Reply to  Greg

I agree. That intersection is certainly laden with traffic as it exists now. It makes no sense to add a convenience store to provide what already exists across the street at 7-11. A traffic study doesn’t have to be performed to ascertain that the volume and frequency of cars going in and out of 7-11 far exceed that of Chevron as it exists now. Just stand on the corner and observe for 10 minutes. The 7-11 comings and going’s back up eastbound Holloway traffic when customers are waiting to make a left onto their lot and westbound when customers leaving… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
6 months ago

Has Mr. Biijan Pouldar recently purchased this property, hence the effort to have a facility in which multiple spaces are leased to various business enterprises? If so, may work on paper for him but not necessarily for the community.

Greg Konder
Greg Konder
6 months ago

I IMPLORE the owner of The Chevron to KEEP THE GARAGE OPEN! The mechanics there are AWESOME, and they provide a valuable service to OUR COMMUNITY! The nearest place to get ANY work done is more than 2 miles away! The place is ALWAYS taking care of grateful nearby residents! CAR WASHES ARE TOO LOUD AND TAKE TOO MUCH WATER FROM OUR ALREADY WATER DEPLETED & OVERBURDENED INFRASTRUCTURE! You can STILL Build a bigger Convenience store! Think OUTSIDE THE BOX!!

JF1
JF1
6 months ago
Reply to  Greg Konder

Yes, would be a real shame to lose the service station. The guys there are great! A convenience store open those hours, selling beer and wine is going to attract vagrants.

Ann Durham
Ann Durham
6 months ago

What the article for Chevron station does not state is that there will be NO garage at the station. I and many of my friends take our vehicles there for service. Not only are they honest and fair, never trying to rip you off, the location is very convenient for many West Hollywood residents. Please email dgillig@weho.org to save our garage. The meeting is this Thursday at 6:30pm.

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin
6 months ago
Reply to  Ann Durham

Sorry. That was accidentally omitted. The story has been updated to include the important aspect.

Greg Konder
Greg Konder
6 months ago
Reply to  Ann Durham

WE MUST SAVE THAT MECHANICS GARAGE!
ITS NONSENSICAL to take the ONLY GARAGE away within 2-3 MILES from our COMMUNITY!
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! Build a BETTER convenience store, while SAVING THE MUCH NEEDED SERVICE! The new Hotels are already taxing our water table as it is! NO NOISY, WATER WASTING CARWASH! THE TRAFFIC IS ALREADY ABSURDLY CONGESTED AS IT IS!

Vincent Campisi
Vincent Campisi
6 months ago

Just to let everyone know, if this Chevron goes through they will no longer be any service on cars. There will also be no full service gas pumps. Please help us try to keep the services that West Hollywood dearly needs. Attend the council meeting this Thursday, March 5 at 6:30 PM. You can also write a email, whether you attend or not to dgillig@weho.org. Voice your concerns and ask that your email be given to the council members and planning commissioners, that what David is there to do for us. Thank you in advance.

JF1
JF1
6 months ago

done.

Vigilant
Vigilant
6 months ago

Your name appeared on the list of unconditional supporters for this project sent to the planner by the attorney for Biijan” Ben” Pohldar. The attorney also stated that Mr. Pohldar is a respected member of the West Hollywood community. This is a questionable statement and he legally resides on Carla Ridge in Trousdale.

Jason K
Jason K
6 months ago

Some the people in weho are so crazy. Really complaining about a remodeled gas station.

Vincent Campisi
Vincent Campisi
6 months ago
Reply to  Jason K

We’re not complaining about the remodeling of the gas station we just would like the service department to stay. They are removing that and the full service pumps.

Vincent Campisi
Vincent Campisi
6 months ago
Reply to  Jason K

We are not complaining about a gas station. We would like the gas station to keep their service department and they’re full service pumps that is all we are expressing here.

Pragmatic
Pragmatic
6 months ago
Reply to  Jason K

This Chevron is one of the most cherished conveniences in Weho and saves many individuals young to old the time, expense, and uncertainty of having to venture miles for unpredictable service. The corner is immaculate as it is, but changing it to a convenience store with liquor plus a car wash will only create something as filthy as the lot at 7-12 with trash, vagrants, and problems that always require police intervention on a very frequent basis. It’s frustrating that everyone running for Weho city council make statements about keeping the city a quaint, quiet, village but are allowing all… Read more »