The West Hollywood City Council has agreed to let the owner of the Chevron gas station on the northwest corner of La Cienega Boulevard and Holloway Drive move forward with a plan to add a carwash and a convenience store.
The Council’s decision was a response to an appeal of the city Planning Commission’s earlier approval of the project. It came in a three to one vote, with Councilmember Lauren Meister supporting the appeal. Councilmember John Heilman abstained because he lives near the project.
The property will continue to operate as a gas station with the existing gas pumps and canopy remaining, but the automobile service bays will be eliminated. In addition to the convenience store and car wash, the new building will have space for another small shop, but what business will occupy that space has not yet been determined. The car wash will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The appeal was filed by Jerome Cleary, who is a candidate in the Nov. 3 City Council election. Cleary claimed that adding a carwash to the site would result in a long line of vehicles lined along La Cienega Boulevard to enter the carwash. He and other nearby residents also objected to the fact that the convenience store would be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages. Some also claimed the carwash would lead to more accidents at its intersection with Holloway and pose a risk to pedestrians on the sidewalk. And some said they were opposed to the property owner’s decision to close the auto service bays.
The project got the support of about 100 nearby residents, who signed a petition on its behalf. Keith Kaplan, a local resident and real estate agent, noted that plans to demolish the carwash on La Cienega Boulevard near Norms would leave only one automatic carwash in the area — the Santa Palm carwash on Santa Monica Boulevard at Palm Avenue.
Ben Pouldar, who has owned the station for the past 13 years, said the auto service bays were no longer making money. Pouldar also addressed Cleary’s claim that he had to wait 45 minutes in a long line of cars to enter another carwash operated by Pouldar. The carwash at La Cienega and Holloway would be automated, Pouldar said, and thus able to process one car every three minutes. Pouldar owns 23 other gas stations/convenience stores in the Los Angeles area.
Councilmember Lauren Meister questioned the decision by the city’s planning staff that the project wasn’t likely to have a significant impact on the environment, saying she was concerned about the noise and traffic it would generate and its impact on air quality. The Planning and Development Services Department did conduct a noise study that measured and modeled the existing noise environment from the service station, and then analyzed the proposed project for potential impact on the surrounding area. It also used a model to analyze the impact on traffic, which it found would not be significant.
To address concerns about the traffic impact of the project, Poulder agreed to remove the easternmost driveway on Holloway to lessen the impact on the La Cienega / Holloway intersection of cars leaving the lot. He also agreed to find a way to restrict access to the landscaped area on the western edge of the property, which Councilmember John D’Amico has raised concerns about.