By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
Facing public opprobrium and the likelihood that their plans would be sent back for revision at tonight’s Planning Commission meeting, the partners attempting to renovate 8899 Beverly Boulevard ditched their plans to keep poor segregated from wealthy residents by forcing them to use special entries and keeping them out of the swimming pool.
The plan sounded a little too much like Jim Crow to some in the West Hollywood community, which was built on tenants’ rights to begin with.
Once the point was made, the developers, Townscape Partners and Angelo Gordon & Co., quickly dropped the hot potato, saying that the city already agreed to the plans, but they would gladly change now that the city has changed its thoughts.
The partnership, called Beverly Blvd. Associates, issued a statement:
“We have worked tirelessly over the last several years to craft a project that provides an extraordinary public benefit by building significantly more affordable housing units than would otherwise be required for a project this size.
“The City of West Hollywood previously recommended comparable amenities, which we had agreed to. If the City now feels that shared amenities and access best meet the needs of the residents of the affordable housing units, we are more than willing to accept those conditions of the project.
“We look forward to continuing conversations with the City of West Hollywood, affordable housing advocates and our neighbors to make this housing a reality.”
Apparently, the developers heard “separate but equal” when they say the city insisted on “comparable amenities.” They indicate surprise that the city actually meant “shared and equal access.”
The idea of segregating the poor from the wealthy in buildings allows developers to use the low-income housing to build larger, denser or higher end buildings than otherwise possible under state law.
The developers made it plain they were adding low-income units – and more than required by zoning law – to smooth the way to approval of their plans to increase the size of the 8899 Beverly building by almost 100 percent and to build 32 luxury condominiums.
Other changes to the plans as they evolve are making the low-income units smaller, removing some of the free standing townhouses planned to replace them. There will be 17 low-income units with a pool accessible to them.
Rather than build the three low-low-income units they were quoted above as saying they “worked tirelessly over the last several years to craft a project that provides an extraordinary public benefit by building significantly more affordable housing units than would otherwise be required…” the partners would pay a simple $1 million into the city’s housing fund to build three units elsewhere.
It still sounds like elitism, still looks like discrimination, still looks ugly from a Wehoan’s point of view.
The Planning Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente, south of Santa Monica Boulevard.