8150 Sunset development

LA Council Approves Frank Gehry’s 8150 Sunset Development Despite Neighborhood Concerns

In Archive by Patrick Range McDonald

The Los Angeles City Council approved today the controversial 8150 Sunset development that’s raised the ire of many community activists who believe the development is still too big and will ruin neighborhood character and cause even more nightmare traffic at the gridlocked intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights boulevards.

Located at 8150 Sunset Boulevard, the mega-project is the brainchild of developer Townscape Partners, who hired famed architect Frank Gehry. For months, community activists railed against the luxury housing mixed-use project, demanding that it be scaled down. Historic preservationists also wanted the Lytton Savings building on the site to be declared a city landmark and saved.

Orrin Feldman

Orrin Feldman

At today’s Council meeting, Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council member Orrin Feldman said the 8150 Sunset development is “steroidal-like” in size and that City Hall’s development approval process “has done everything” to ensure that the mega-project was approved against the wishes of the community.

“We don’t want to see overdevelopment,” said Feldman, “and that’s what this is.”

L.A. City Council member Paul Koretz of District 5 seemed to agree, saying, “It’s still large, and doesn’t fit well into this area.” Yet Koretz said District 4 Council member David Ryu tried his best to scale down the project, and, therefore, the 8150 Sunset development should be considered for a vote.

Ryu, who represents the district that 8150 Sunset is located, had strong words for City Hall’s development approval process, which the Coalition to Preserve LA and many other neighborhood groups say is broken and rigged in favor of deep-pocketed developers who each spend hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions and politically connected lobbyists to bend city planning rules and win City Hall approvals.

“The Planning Department must revise how the city implements the state’s density bonus law,” Ryu said.

He noted that the “scale and impact of development” is one of the most important issues facing Los Angeles, and that City Hall was “disproportionately incentivizing” developers to build bigger and bigger mega-projects.

Ryu said he “did not support” the City Planning Commission’s approval of 8150 Sunset, and demanded that Townscape Partners work with the community.

In recent weeks, the council member said he managed to decrease the size of a 15-story residential tower, widen sidewalks, decrease the number of housing units and add more affordable housing. But, he noted, “I did not get everything I wanted.”

The City Council then approved the mega-project.

The 8150 Sunset approval comes days after a damning Los Angeles Times report that shows how a developer spent hundreds of thousands in campaign donations that benefitted City Council members and Mayor Eric Garcetti to win City Hall approvals to build a residential mega-project known as “Sea Breeze” that the City Planning Commission had rejected.  The revelations have rocked City Hall, with the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office saying it will look into the matter.

Many community activists have said that the Sea Breeze mega-project is just one glaring example of how City Hall’s planning and land-use system is rigged and broken and favors developers over the needs and concerns of ordinary Angelenos — and, therefore, desperately needs reform. 8150 Sunset provides another example.

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