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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Vote on R.D. Olson Hollywood hotel project pushed back amid accusations of homophobia

Union protesters raised concerns about executive with anti-gay ties
May 22, 2017 02:30PM

Olson CEO Robert Olson and renderings of the hotel at 6409 West Sunset Boulevard

The Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) has delayed a vote on R. D. Olson’s plans to build a a 21-story hotel on Sunset Boulevard. But the developer can’t blame the NIMBYs this time.

The delay came in response to a campaign by local labor union Unite Here Local 11, which objects to the project on the grounds that one of the company’s executives has ties to the “anti-gay” Christian fundamentalist group known as Legatus.

The executive, Bill Wilhelm, has since resigned from Legatus, according to a statement cited by Beverly Press. The Newport Beach-based firm will also be a sponsor of Orange County’s LGBT Pride Parade.

Council member Mitch O’Farrell recently came to R.D. Olson’s defense.

“In my experience, there has been nothing homophobic about R.D. Olson’s approach to this project,” he said in a statement. “My record reflects that I believe in fair wages and good working conditions, but as a gay man, I am extremely disappointed that Unite Here has sought to drive a wedge within my community in this way.”

Unite alleges that there are issues beyond homophobia too, such as the project’s size and potential noise impact. The most recent plans call for a 275-unit hotel complex. On the ground floor, there would be up to 1,900 square feet of commercial space, and four levels of subterranean parking below, according to city documents.

The PLUM Committee will pick up the project again next month. [Beverly Press]Cathaleen Chen