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    HomeNewsPlanning Commission Votes to Move Viper Room Redevelopment Forward

    Planning Commission Votes to Move Viper Room Redevelopment Forward

    The West Hollywood Planning Commission concluded their meeting on Thursday, April 18th, discussing the application for the 8850 Sunset Boulevard development. This project has caused a major commotion in the West Hollywood community, with a room so full of attendees that many had to stand. Over 87 people signed up to speak their opinion on both sides of the matter Thursday night during Public Comments. After further review and questioning of the developers, the Planning Commission approved the recommendation to move the project forward to City Council with a split vote after roughly 8.5-hour meeting.

    West Hollywood Planning Commission meeting, Thursday, April 18, 2024 – WEHO TIMES

    The proposed mixed-use development is located at 8850 Boulevard, which will include 62 market-rate units, 16 restricted-income units, 6 street-level storefront units, rooftop dining, a public breezeway, a native nature display, and 90 hotel rooms. The historic Viper Room will be demolished and replaced with a new reimagined Viper Room, which will occupy one of the street-level units, with a public lobby showcasing music and art. The project has gone through 3 major revisions and is the most redesigned project in West Hollywood history.

    The West Hollywood City Planning Commission meeting had many local residents voice their concerns or speak their support over the 8850 developments on Thursday night. Residents in the surrounding area spoke against the project for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: noise pollution from the construction, the effect of its large electricity consumption on the power grid which already suffers frequent blackouts, the proposed height of the building, the lack of affordable housing the building provides, preserving The Viper Room, and the strain more cars will put on surrounding streets for parking and road congestion. Members of The Sheet Metal Workers Association spoke against the project for not using local companies and union labor. Tommy Black, the Viper Room’s current manager, embraced the project and assured the public that this would allow the Viper Room to continue and grow its legacy while still embracing the club’s roots. Unite Here Local, a Union for Hotel workers, showed support for the housing the project provides. Other residents stated their support for the project, hoping it would revitalize Sunset Boulevard and increase housing in West Hollywood. Many expressed their concern over the limited affordable housing, but many others felt that any affordable housing is better than no affordable housing.

    On Thursday, April 18th DJ Moore, a member of the 8850 Sunset Blvd. development group speaks to the West Hollywood City Planning Commission – Photo by Jake Crandall
    West Hollywood Planning Commission meeting, Thursday, April 18, 2024 – Photo by Jake Crandall
    West Hollywood Planning Commission meeting, Thursday, April 18, 2024 – Photo by Jake Crandall

    Following public comments, the Commission questioned the developers’ agreements, with many topics of clarification and concern. One topic of contention was the building breezeway, which is supposed to open to the public from 9 AM-3 PM, and the Viper Room Lounge Museum with a proposed time of 9 AM-5 PM open to the public is a point of concern for the planning commission. The commission felt the limited hours lacked merit for consideration of a public good. They also set out new conditions for curating the Viper Room art to make sure it is annually updated. The applicants discussed with the Commission how they are open to changing them if the later hours do not impact the safety of the residents. The new times will be decided later after further consideration. The Commission additionally questioned the viability of the limited number of parking spots, which was determined to be viable based on the building’s valet system, but is subject to further scrutiny and change. Parking challenges will be present in this area with the limited valet parking, which may encourage people to look for already strained street parking. The 16 affordable units will not have to pay for parking. The rest of the units will pay for parking on top of their monthly rent. Parking spaces will be limited with 1 parking spot for every two units, with a discussion of changing the ratio to a 1:1. The comment was brought up that other Hollywood restaurants and hotels are struggling or closing their doors since the pandemic. Additionally, the concern of other developments that had promised revitalization to Sunset Boulevard had demolished the previous buildings and left dirt lots where they stood after abandoning the project. The committee wanted to know what this development could accomplish that these other businesses struggle to achieve and have the developer guarantee they complete this project after it begins.

    West Hollywood Planning Commissioner Lynn Hoopingarner – Photo by Jake Crandall
    West Hollywood Planning Commissioner David S Gregoire – Photo by Jake Crandall

    In the final vote for 10C, where the Commission votes on whether to recommend the proposed development to City Council, 3 commissioners voted in favor of the development–Michael Lombardi, Mark Edwards, and David S Gregoire–One voted against–Lynn Hoopingarner.

    Three commissioners did not vote that night. Commissioner Rogerio Carvalheiro recused himself because he had a conflict of interest due to previous consulting work on billboards; Erick J Matos recused himself because he lives within 500 feet from of the development; and Stacey Jones was not present because she’s on maternity leave.

    Lynn Hoopingarner voted against 10-C, commenting, “In the development agreement finding number one is that the development agreement is in the best interest of the city, I can’t make that finding. I’m sorry, we absolutely need to build more housing, I think we can do better… We are being asked to approve and recommend to the council that this development agreement is correct it’s in the findings, and I can’t make that finding as it’s currently structured.”

    Commissioner Hoopingarner additionally is concerned over potential problems and errors in the plans with the building’s landscaping and native habitat display. Another major concern was the public goods’ lack of access and public utility, asking if the 5-million-dollar public benefits fund for the limited public space could be better spent on affordable housing.

    Commissioner Mark R Edwards voted for 10c. He believes that high-density housing will help the West Hollywood housing crisis while being eco-conscious. West Hollywood needs housing, and for this reason, he stated he supports any new housing. Commissioner Edwards has confidence that growing public transport in West Hollywood will solve the issues associated with parking and traffic, and trust concerns brought against the applicant will be solved as the project continues developing.

    Commissioner David S Gregoire voted in favor of 10c believing the development will not cause a noticeable impact on traffic. Commissioner Gregoire expressed his support for high-density housing believing this is a good location for the development.

    Commissioner Michael A Lombardi voted for the project stating it’s a good location for the housing that is desperately needed in West Hollywood, but added he wished there was more affordable housing in this project. He did state his concerns additionally the viability of this project’s completion. Erick J Matos recused himself from voting on the matter because his residency is 200ft away from the proposed development, and there was concern that due to the effects the building of the development will have he will not be able to be a non-biased opinion.

    The fate of the 8850 Sunset Boulevard development is now up to the City Council, which is expected to bring up the matter in the following months. It is expected that many of the issues that were brought up tonight inside the Planning Commission will be addressed leading to a City Council item. The majority of the Planning Commission concluded this project will help revitalize Sunset Boulevard and should be further reviewed by City Council with the errors in the plans deemed rectifiable.

    8850 will remain a divisive issue in West Hollywood, as many praise the project for adding desperately needed housing in West Hollywood with its additional potential to revitalize and help Sunset Boulevard. Many local West Hollywood residents spoke out against the project for its lack of merit to serve the public’s actual needs like affordable housing. Many residents are also concerned over its potential negatives and disruption to the local community and culture.

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    Jake Crandall
    Jake Crandall
    Jake Crandall is a gonzo journalist and photojournalist based out of Hollywood. A self-described beatnik from the Bay Area who is currently attending Santa Monica College.

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    Cy Husain
    Cy Husain
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    1 month ago

    We not only need this beautiful building but, we’re well into the 21st century kids & land here is very expensive, we need record breaking skyscrapers❗ In building our new mixed use structures we need to mandate that a significant % goes to affordable housing to keep people from becoming unhoused and, it’s build by local UNION labor. Also we need to use West Hollywood/Local Architects, CAD Designers & Simulators in our projects and, I’m currently busy organizing their UNION. With new Quantum Dot LED technology, entire buildings can be very efficiently lit up, rivaling what’s seen in Blade Runner.

    desgn
    Natasha
    Natasha
    Offline
    1 month ago

    This is great. I saw the Unite Here workers speaking in favor of the development because many of them want to rent in the building.

    Cy Husain
    Cy Husain
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    Reply to  Natasha
    1 month ago

    Now it is possible to be in favor of the project and OPPOSE non-union scab labor & crook contractors. NOT a hard concept❗
      :wpds_lol: 

    Curtis
    Curtis
    Offline
    1 month ago

    Does this $urpri$e anyone $$$$ ????

    Enough!
    Enough!
    Offline
    1 month ago

    Happy to see that stretch of Sunset revitalized replacing the rundown strip mall like commercial structures that are currently there.

    veto
    veto
    Offline
    1 month ago

    An 8.5 long meeting was brutal. Lots of grandstanding from the commission and unnecessary points. I agree with Victor. This was not ready for prime time.

    hahah
    hahah
    Offline
    1 month ago

    YAY!! Soon to be more vacant commercial real estate! Took a walk this morning and more and more transients/mentally ill on the streets every day. Starbucks felt unsafe this am to with some of them just standing ini the middle of the store.

    Jeff
    Jeff
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    1 month ago

    The planning commission always had the intention to approve the project. Why even have public meetings anymore?

    hahah
    hahah
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    Reply to  Jeff
    1 month ago

    lol so true. its a waste of time.

    Jerome Cleary
    Jerome Cleary
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    1 month ago

    The most controversial part of this meeting that went past 3 am is that the Unite Here Union members were hypocrites in speaking in support of this project that had construction union members speak in non-support cause the developer was going to use non-union, carpenters, electricians, and cement pourers. How can you be a Unite Here union member going against a project using non-union members? Then residents spoke about the power grid and transformers that go out on Larrabee and affect the whole neighborhood. Lastly, over 40 people had to leave this over 6-hour meeting and never got to speak… Read more »

    Cy Husain
    Cy Husain
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    Reply to  Jerome Cleary
    1 month ago

    It is possible to support these projects and, OPPOSE the use of outside non-union scab labor. We need to be ready to get in the face of contractor crooks & scabs with our pipe wrenches & crowbars (incase something needs fixing) to lovingly & politely let them know we’re NOT happy. Architects, CAD Designers & Simulators also need to be Local which we have and, the UNION is in the works. As for the Power Grid, we have environmentally friendly renewable energy sources & smart grid technology that has this covered.

    ReNewENGSkyScr
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