Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1350 Hayworth Continues: Will Outcome Be Affordable?

Once again, residents of the Edward H. Fickett, FAIA designed, Hollywood Riviera and other supportive neighbors attended the City Council meeting as 1350 N Hayworth Avenue found itself back on the Council’s agenda after the continuance from the September 6, 2011 Council meeting. The neighbors were not alone as the developers and architect, Jay Vanos, who presented to the chamber a second version of their proposed plans to Council, were in attendance. Everyone was there for the same reason; what is the fate of 1350 N Hayworth Avenue, and whether it affordable?
West Hollywood City Council meets to discuss 1350 N. Hayworth Ave.
First to present was staff who basically presented more of the same re-hashed, re-tooled Staff Report.  Noted was the fact no one from City Staff reached out to any of the neighbors of Hayworth or the historical Hollywood Riviera next door.  Council member Land was the first to question the communication to residents during the latest 6 months of redesign of the proposed development.  Staff replied they were not specifically told to do so.  Nor did staff take much of the public comment all ready presented last year when reviewing the recent designs while working closely with the developer and architect for months.  Did they not hear the comments and take notes from prior meetings like the rest of us?  They came across looking foolish.  This, after a Planning Commission meeting on the basics of Land-Use last week addressing bias, community input and other basics of Staff reports and responsibilities? Clearly, McIntosh needs to evaluate her staff.

Residents and Council seemed to have a similar perspective of a building with less mass and better suitability to the street. The developer has a right to build and entitled to build a four-story building due to the ordinance litigation originating in 2007.  Regardless, the same elephant sits in the room.
Land Questions Staff on Resident Outreach with Design
As conversation from Council commented, Heilman noted that anyway you have it, development at 1350 N Hayworth Avenue is going to happen and never would affordable housing be a part of this particular site, whether we liked it or not.  Mayor Duran had a different perspective stating the issue would only find itself in further litigation.  He may be right and Heilman could be overwhelmingly wrong.

Simply put, affordable housing could most certainly be accommodated on that site located at 1350 N. Hayworth Avenue.  They just have to buck up the cash and pay off the developer for wasting the people’s time and the developer’s time and efforts.  The city is no immune to litigation and this particular case is a “WOW-sa!” kind of unique situation that has long lasting recourse judicially. It would make most sense to evaluate the pros and cons of settling with the developer and pay the guys deserved money due and give the neighbors some dignity within preserving cultural heritage.
Hogan and Arevalo Discuss
This would be time litigation would actually be embraced by the community!  Versus shudder and ask, how did we get into this mess?  Again it all questions City Manager, Arevalo and City Attorney, Michael Jenkins abilities to drive the ship properly and wisely with economic restraint and thoughtful legal advisement.  Same tune, different channel.

Mayor Duran started his conversation by addressing the litigation involved with this particular site due to the Moratorium Ordinance initiated by Duran and Prang in 2007, suspending all demolition permits.

Take note this battle between City and developer began in 2007.  It is now 5 years since the developer applied for their demolition permit.  The City tried to shut them down early on and the developer’s rightfully fought back.  To a small degree you have to appreciate the spirit for taking on the city management and legal counsel to let the courts ultimately decide.  The City was wrong and the judgment was appealed in favor of the developer. The City had no other choice than to work with the developer or pay them out.  No one seems to be happy with the litigation and time involved.
(L-R) Prang, Duran, Arevalo, Land & Heilman
With public and Council support of retaining the charm and significance of Hayworth Avenue, it’s important to note Hayworth Avenue is, for the most, one of the last untouched and preserved streets in West Hollywood.  You walk down the sidewalk and gain a true sense of the community with its eclectic nature of historic buildings and glow of yesteryear.

Why not stop this ‘Mad Max’ of a train and let everyone get off, instead of going back to the table and having the developer not budging on a four-story design because of legal entitlement, and the neighbors and council only finding the mass and scale of a three-story building suitable for a historic neighborhood?
John D'Amico pensively reviews plans
When Council member D’Amico was on Planning, he was successful in transforming the beautiful Hancock Firehouse into affordable housing.  That made sense fiscally as well as part of a true effort to create affordable housing through sustainable measures.  That’s what redevelopment is all about, introducing development through initiatives that make sense to everyone involved.  The 1350 N Hayworth Avenue site is a very unusual site having a historic building next door and an ongoing litigation with the developer.

The City actually has a chance of doing good on something gone bad.

In the case of 1350 N Hayworth Avenue, everyone who has been involved with this for the past five years is certainly fed up with the continuance given to the agenda item so the City can crack open the same demons as last year and the year before and the year before that…

This is the one time you say, buck up and PAY!

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