Six proposed towers defy WeHo height limits via ‘Builder’s Remedy’

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West Hollywood currently has six development projects in the pipeline — one being the notorious eight-story tower coming to Huntley Drive — that will be allowed to deviate from standard city zoning regulations and height boundaries via the “Builder’s Remedy,” a part of state law meant to create more housing. 

When WeHo delayed the adoption of the state’s Housing Element in 2021, it opened the door for developers to circumvent local zoning requirements. According to state law, if a locality has a noncompliant Housing Element, developers have free rein as long as at least 1/5th of the proposed units are held for low-income residents.

“While we are out of compliance, developers are allowed to submit plans that do not have to comply with our zoning code,” Mayor-elect John M. Erickson said at a recent City Council meeting. “The developer only has to comply with the building code. That’s why we have these proposals that seem so out of line with what the zoning ordinance permits.”

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An application first filed on June 5, 2023, to construct an eight-story multi-family building at 1051 Edinburgh with 35 residential units is now complete, having held a neighborhood meeting last month. This building would replace a small one-story home zoned R3B located south of the parking lot of Laurel Veterinary Hospital on Santa Monica Boulevard. R3B is a residential zone that can include group homes with up to six residents and staff.

Four other projects have been submitted, but these applications have been deemed incomplete and they remain in the review process. 

A 26-story mixed-use building with 160 residential units, 20 hotel rooms and 15,000 square feet of commercial space is planned for 9016 Santa Monica  sandwiched on a triangular lot between the West Hollywood Animal Hospital on La Peer Avenue and a commercial building on Almont Avenue. The zone is CC2, which allows variety of commercial uses.

A seven-story multi-family building with 30 residential units is planned for 833 Westbourne Drive. It will replace a small single-story home south of Santa Monica Boulevard on a lot zoned R3A, which allows for single-family, two-family, multi-family, ADU, and commercial uses. R3A zoning also allows for a 1,210 square foot lot area and 25 feet tall, two-story buildings.

A six-story mixed-use building with 30 residential units and 2,743 square feet of commercial space is planned for 8817 Ashcroft Drive, replacing a small single-story home in the middle of the West Hollywood West neighborhood. The lot is zoned R1B, which permits single-family homes. 

A 12-story mixed-use building with 130 residential units and 13,349 square feet of commercial space is planned for 8816 Beverly Blvd., replacing the Poliform store across the street from the new Ulla Johnson flagship. It is zoned CC2. 

Last year, the city of Santa Monica, also out of compliance with the Housing Element, saw a surge in wildly tall projects submitted for review. Developers ultimately bargained with the city to scale down their designs in exchange for fast-tracked approval. 

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Adam Crowley
Adam Crowley
1 month ago

Amazing! More of these projects, please. Look at how many more affordable units come on-line because the city gets out of the way of free market forces. We need more housing! Bring it on!

Morty
Morty
1 month ago
Reply to  Adam Crowley

Yes, look at all those affordable units! The Huntley project kicks 8 people out of their affordable housing (including a veteran) to provide 10 affordable units in 3 years!!! Bravo! Great job WEHO!! I’m sure the 8 people including the veteran who served our country and who will be pushed out of their affordable housing appreciate your efforts.

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
1 month ago

More unsold holes in the ground. WeHo already looks like London in 1946. Well done to all that created this mess of city planning.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Densifying the city is objectively necessary, and this websites heavy bias against any kind of change of people on the streets is genuinely sad to see

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Yes, necessary and doable along commercial areas/corridors. Not neighborhoods.

Last edited 1 month ago by JF1
Robert Steloff
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

You are completely failing to understand & comprehend the difference of developing the city consistent with (1) zoning ordinances put into affect for good reason, (2) the city becoming compliant with the necessary need for affordable housing, & (3) what Builders Remedy is, what it stands for, & what it will do to the city-scape within the walking streets of all neighborhoods – I highly suggest you read & learn about it. This is not NIMBYISM, this is GROSS NEGLECT of loopholes being exploited by developers due to recent state legislature & failures to become compliant in a timely manner… Read more »

LeShawn
LeShawn
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Steloff

Builder’s remedy isn’t a “loophole”. It’s designed to be fire to the butt of any city that isn’t allowing enough housing. You’re right that these new towers will likely have high market rents, but any increase in the rental stock will push down rents in other, older buildings. I’m all for the city being in compliance, but I’m also happy to see these large buildings being pushed through in the meantime.

Carleton cro9nin
1 month ago

The future is staring at us and few understand. I won’t be around in WEHO when our ,title cottages and leafy streets are reconfigured to attend to the need for more density to provide reasonable housing.. PREPARE

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago

They should be built even higher. Typical NIMBY complaints below

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

Why can’t the city just say no? I built a traditional house here that fits perfectly in our neighborhood style and six-wise and they made numerous demands to change the height and design. The city just has to have the balls to say it doesn’t work design wise in the neighborhood. Get lawyers on the case now.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

They can’t say no because state law supersedes local city zoning. Our city FAILED to comply with state requirements…this is the penalty…developers can built whatever they want so long as it meets safety codes….local zoning be damned. We need more housing and there is plenty of opportunity along commercial corridors to build high-rises. BUT since the city didn’t pass a plan..the state says that basically developers can come into a neighborhood and destroy peoples property values that they worked so hard to earn. Nice huh? If you have no pension…no 401k…just the home you worked for, scrapped by to keep… Read more »

dario
dario
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

Higher density land will create more value for homeowners than selling as a single family home so your reasoning is not completely accurate.

Paul
Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

I think they can hold this construction off for a long time with design issues, as they did on my house.

TheRealZam
1 month ago

Bring it on. We should be trying to increase our density and housing stock and stop fighting progress. If we don’t progress, we’ll be left behind.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  TheRealZam

I am all for high rises on main streets/boulevards. But when you work hard, save enough money to by a home in a residential neighborhood where all the homes are one and two stories… and then all of a sudden (due to the city’s failure to act) the state allows a SEVEN story high rise next to your home, that DESTROYS YOUR PROPERTY VALUE. My home is by biggest investment. NO ONE is going to buy my home for what it is worth today if tomorrow someone builds a SEVEN story building next to my house. The state has basically… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by JF1
dario
dario
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

if you can build a higher density building on your site, you won, as the land will be worth more than your home…

Last edited 1 month ago by dario
Morty
Morty
1 month ago

What a mess the city council created. I’m in favor of taller buildings on main thoroughfares where traffic can be accommodated but putting a 7 or 8 story building on streets like Ashcroft or Huntley is just ridiculous. Where are people going to park and how will basic services like sanitation be handled. It is almost impossible to park on either Huntley or Ashcroft after 5pm right now. Also, the Huntley project proposes going down 2 stories for parking. I do not know of a single apartment building in West Hollywood that has dug down 2 floors for parking. We… Read more »

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Morty

I agree….build taller on main boulevards not in residential neighborhoods where they are totally out of scale. And the bigger issue than parking is that it lessens the value of the surrounding homes. That’s people’s investments. Their retirement. No one is going to buy my two story home when they build a 7 story high-rise right on top of me. I worked really hard and scrapped by for years to buy my home and then the state is allowed to do this! All because our elected officials FAILED to act! (and continue to fail).

Morty
Morty
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

The good news is there is now an approved plan in place and hopefully nobody is building a 7 or 8 story high rise next to either of our homes.

Bastian
Bastian
1 month ago

Thoughts on whether the delay by unite here puppets was intentional to provide union construction jobs?

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
1 month ago

The hypocrites in the City whine and complain about not having enough housing, and when a developer wants to build more housing, within City and within State law, they fight it. Once the freeloaders are here, in their life-long rent controlled dumpy apartments, they suddenly don’t want anyone else here. Who do they think is going to pay the taxes and be able to afford to shop in our city?

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

(repeating myself here) I am all for high rises on main streets/boulevards. But when you work hard, save enough money to by a home in a residential neighborhood where all the homes are one and two stories… and then all of a sudden (due to the city’s failure to act) the state allows a SEVEN story high rise next to your home, that DESTROYS YOUR PROPERTY VALUE. My home is by biggest investment. NO ONE is going to buy my home for what it is worth today if tomorrow someone builds a SEVEN story building next to my house. The… Read more »

:dpb
:dpb
1 month ago

It’s very convenient that the city administration “delayed the adoption of the state’s Housing Element in 2021” and “opened the door for developers to circumvent local zoning requirements.” It’s also convenient for those receiving developer kickbacks and the one running for County Supervisor at the time and that one who was planning her run for Weho City Council and sleeping with a very connected developer, very good for the incoming City Manager that would have another loophole to impress his developer passé who he then put one on a hiring committee for city planner. And don’t forget our current council… Read more »

Robert Steloff
1 month ago
Reply to  :dpb

You are 💯 SPOT-ON!!

LeShawn
LeShawn
1 month ago

This state law is great. More residential towers, please! This idea that we should keep WeHo short and low-density is ridiculous.

Ugh
Ugh
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn

We’re the 4th most densely populated city in the state.
A state with 40 million people.
City officials need to fix this zoning catastrophe ASAP.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn

(repeating myself here) I am all for high rises on main streets/boulevards. But when you work hard, save enough money to by a home in a residential neighborhood where all the homes are one and two stories… and then all of a sudden (due to the city’s failure to act) the state allows a SEVEN story high rise next to your home, that DESTROYS YOUR PROPERTY VALUE. My home is by biggest investment. NO ONE is going to buy my home for what it is worth today if tomorrow someone builds a SEVEN story building next to my house. The… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by JF1
LeShawn
LeShawn
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

Think of it on the bright side! If your parcel were also zoned to allow a tall residential building, the value of your property would be a lot higher. A developer would be willing to pay several million more for such a piece of land compared to one simply zoned for a single-family home.

Last edited 1 month ago by LeShawn
JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn
  1. It’s not zoned for that. 2. Once your property is sandwiched next to a high rise the developer is going to know you’re stuck. No one is going to buy that single family home next to that at fair market value and so the developer is only going to offer slightly more than what anyone else will pay for it hoping you take what you can get and get out. It’s not a bright side…at. all.
LeShawn
LeShawn
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

First of all, such dense zonings is clearly what Californian cities are going to be moving towards, either voluntarily or forced by the state. This builders’ remedy workaround is just the beginning. Secondly, I don’t think you understand how much developers are willing to pay for a highly valued piece of land on which a residential tower can be built. Go check out neighborhoods in Vancouver such as the West End or Kitsilano where developers are willing to pay $10 million plus for a solid parcel of land where they can build a huge tower. It’s a win-win situation because… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by LeShawn
JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn

So screw some people to benefit others…I get it. Like I said above..there is plenty of places to build towers. Residential single family neighborhoods is not one of them. Start with the commercial corridors…then pick up the discussion after those opportunities are maxed out…will be decades from now.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn

You’re very generous with other people’s retirements/investments.

Morty
Morty
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn

Just FYI, LA is not Vancouver. Also, most of your argument is mute because WEHO now has an approved plan in place and developers can no longer build 7 or 8 story buildings on tight residential streets like Huntley or Ashcroft. We are all in favor of more housing but building tall buildings needs to be in locations where there is parking and infrastructure to handle the increased traffic not to mention the ability for workers, contractor subs, etc to park.

Michael V
Michael V
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn

LeShawn, What about the quality of your life here?0″ Coming home from work after a long day once you drive through the horrendous LA traffic, finally hit the outskirts of WeHo and then it takes you another 45 minutes to an hour to get to your house/apartment/condo in WeHo, you’ll be wishing those thousands & thousands of cars for all those towers that got built would just go away. But at that point, welcome to your new life sitting in your car for hours. Towers over a certain height only benefit the developers who could are less about the quality… Read more »

LeShawn
LeShawn
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael V

Why do you assume I have a car (I don’t)? I walk and take public transportation to get where I need to go within and outside of West Hollywood. My quality of life would be greatly improved if the city were full of residential towers, increasing the supply to the point where a condo, likely in one of the older buildings, were affordable for me to purchase. Any resulting increases in traffic could be easily bypassed by bus lanes (which WeHo and LA have been happy to build; see La Brea) or perhaps one day even the K Line extension.… Read more »

Morty
Morty
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn

Yes, we are selfish because we don’t think it’s appropriate to build high rise towers in inappropriate locations. I hate to break the news to you but most of these new high rises are expensive apartments they are not new condo buildings. Maybe rents in older buildings will drop but these apartments except for those low income units will probably be at market rates. Supply is only one issue that creates these high costs. California is the most expensive state in the country for building homes and apartments. When I built my house in 2018 I had to add things… Read more »

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