Frank Gehry misses the mark

Is Frank Gehry Losing It? Eyesore Will Snarl Laurel Canyon from Sunset to SF Valley

In Archive by Jill Stewart

Below is an open letter by real estate agent Rory Barish, co-founder of Save Sunset Blvd., in which Barish decries the City Planning Department’s upbeat recommendation for “8150 Sunset,” a vast structure a developer wants to squeeze onto the famously gridlocked corner of Sunset and Laurel Canyon/Crescent Heights.

Don’t miss the 8150 Sunset hearing spectacle tomorrow, Tuesday May 24 at 9 a.m., LA City Hall, Room 350, which will be crawling with lobbyists.

Barish says the L.A. City Planning staff is knuckling under to a disaster-in-the-making, going so far as to minimize the tremendous new traffic backups and other negative impacts, in thrall to Frank Gehry.

Gehry or not, this looks to be a mess in the making. We’re talking about 333,903 square feet and 16 stories, replacing a low-slung shopping area. Whether you commute across Laurel Canyon or along Sunset  — or not — gigantic developments are coming soon to congested corners in your community.

By Rory Barish, co-founder, Save Sunset Blvd.

Please read the staff recommendations below and see the link. This whole thing was fixed from the beginning. I am going to the public hearing on Tuesday under the pretense that my word and many many others might make a difference. But there has already been a decision (Read the L.A. City Planning Department staff’s report on 8150 Sunset here).  What a slap in the face.

The biased, incomplete and false information in the EIR report written by the developers’ people is giving the city of L.A. an invitation to satisfy their thirst and desire for density, density, density. Thank you, Garcetti.

The developers have shown no mitigations in many circumstances, but the developers and City get around it by saying that there are little to no impacts to mitigate. This project, as proposed, will further create dangerous traffic conditions for LAFD and County Fire, LAPD and Sheriff – Sunset Blvd., Fountain Ave., Crescent Heights and Havenhurst — and for everyone in the surrounding areas in both West Hollywood and Los Angeles!

Gee what a nice “community benefit” to be left with, forever. I wonder how much money buys the public’s safety and welfare?

What I was also stunned about in all of my reading was the (Los Angeles) Conservancy’s October 2105 letter to the City. See the letter here.

Townscape Partners has shown bad faith in everything they have done from the beginning, installing parking arms at the site to bankrupt the small businesses, forcing them to move (they could not break some leases), telling the neighborhood that they would go back to the drawing board with a smaller project — and coming back with a much larger one. And making the Los Angeles Conservancy think that they were working with them — and then totally disregarding and disposing of them.

These are among many other examples demonstrating the arrogance of the developers.

The city is breaking the law by giving the developers exceptions to off-menu REQUIREMENTS. They do not meet the requirements of the Transit Stop but the City of LA is giving them a pass on that. The city is giving to the developers the people’s crucially needed traffic island — to  help the developers meet their “open space” requirements. See the 8150 Sunset Los Angeles Planning Department staff report here.

Big conflict of interest here. This is blatant disregard for the communities of L.A. and West Hollywood in terms of safety, welfare and preservation of historic treasures and the skyline.

When Charles Munger had plans to build Green Hollow Square in Brentwood, originally a condo plan but then housing, retail,restaurants, office space, underground garage and a house, he wanted to tear down the mid-Century Barry Building built and designed by Milton Caughey in 1951. With neighborhood support in Brentwood, which was worried about traffic impacts as well, the community prevailed and the Barry Building was saved.

City Council member Mike Bonin did the right thing, and said he would not support demolition of a building officially deemed culturally and historically significant. The late council member Bill Rosendahl said that the city needed to listen to its council members.

They expressed concern about the proposed development’s potential for increasing traffic congestion, destroying neighborhood character and threatening a landmark with demolition.

Why do the same rules not apply to the historic Lytton Savings and our neighborhoods? Does the city of Los Angeles play favorites to different neighborhoods? The demolition of Lytton Savings is unjustified when mitigation is available with other alternatives.

And tearing down this building will result in significant adverse impacts to L.A.’s postwar heritage.

If demolition is allowed, the City will also be in violation of CEQA’s policy, which is to take all action necessary to provide the people in this state with historic environmental qualities and preserve for future generations examples of major periods of California history.

To this end, CEQA requires public agencies to deny approval of a project with significant adverse affects when feasible alternatives or feasible mitigation measures can substantially lessen such affects.

But CEQA does not matter here, the law does not matter here — only big money and Gehry’s name do. The city and the developers are above the law.

Why can’t the council members of our community stand up to the city and the developers? (Here is Councilman David Ryu’s letter complaining about the size of the project in early May.)


Rory Barish