Mayor Meeting

City Planning Commission Approves Controversial NoHo West Mega-Project, Residents Ignored Again

In Archive by Patrick Range McDonald

The City Planning Commission approved on Thursday the controversial NoHo West mega-project slated for the Laurel Grove section of North Hollywood, but did not appropriately address nearby residents’ concerns about overwhelming traffic caused by the oversized development. Once again, citizens were largely ignored by city officials.

“They didn’t listen to us on the issues most important to us,” said Laurel Grove Neighborhood Association president Diann Corral after the meeting, referring to the planning commission. “And they didn’t take into consideration that it would be the biggest residential development in the Valley.”

Throughout L.A. City Hall’s approval process for NoHo West, a gigantic mixed-use development with 642 luxury residential units proposed for 6150 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, longtime residents have called for important traffic mitigations for their low-slung, middle-class community. But the city’s Department of Transportation, the city’s planning department and City Councilman Paul Krekorian have all essentially turned a deaf ear. Now the City Planning Commission joins that list.

At the City Planning Commission meeting at Van Nuys City Hall, North Hollywood residents consistently testified that NoHo West would create serious traffic impacts — in fact, even several enthusiastic backers of the mega-project talked about the desperate need to provide substantive traffic mitigations for the community.

“We urge the city to address the traffic issues,” Emmanuel Lutheran Church pastor Patricia Lowe, an avid supporter of NoHo West, told the planning commissioners.

Tara Miller, a nearby resident and another backer of the mega-project, later added. “I’m truly in favor of this project…But there are serious traffic issues that are being swept under by the EIR.”

NoHo West mega-project - image from initial study

NoHo West mega-project – image from initial study

 

Yet when it was time for city officials to speak about traffic impacts, they appeared more concerned about how mitigations would effect NoHo West rather than the surrounding community. Councilman Paul Krekorian, who made an unusual appearance before the planning commission, offered nothing substantive during his testimony.

“This is a conversation [on traffic] I will have at City Hall and with the developer,” Krekorian told the commissioners.

Yet Krekorian has already been meeting with the developers, Merlone Geier Partners and Goldstein Planting Investments, for months, and no serious mitigations have come out of those numerous closed-door talks.

Corral was surprised Krekorian appeared.

“It’s like the developers pulled out the big guns,” she said.

Longtime residents were also displeased that the developers want to construct a tall, dense apartment complex that will loom over a community filled with single-family homes — and will further add to traffic congestion. The planning commissioners appeared unconcerned.

“We felt there was a disconnect there,” said Corral. “They didn’t do anything additional. They just approved about everything that was submitted.”

In the meantime, Merlone Geier Partners and Goldstein Planting Investments stand to make $25.2 million annually from the 642 luxury rental apartments on the site — and millions more from office and retail space.

With such millions on the line, it may explain why Krekorian made the peculiar move to show up at a planning commission meeting to express his full support for the developers and NoHo West — commission president David Ambroz said he had never seen a City Council member in three years.

NoHo West now keeps moving through the development process, heading for the City Council’s Planning and Land-Use Management Committee. Will residents finally get what they need? Or will L.A.’s broken and rigged planning and land-use system ignore them again?

“We’re going to keep plugging away,” said Corral, “and we’re going to see it through.”

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