Life could soon get a lot easier for developers in West Hollywood

If approved, City staffers could OK smaller projects without Planning Commission involvement

Sierra Bonita Apartments in West Hollywood (Credit: Sierra Bonita Apartments)
Sierra Bonita Apartments in West Hollywood (Credit: Sierra Bonita Apartments)

West Hollywood’s Planning Commission approved a series of proposals during a Nov. 16 meeting that ultimately aim to ease the development process in the city, WeHoVille reported. The commission also approved an eight-unit apartment building on Norton Avenue and a five-unit condo project on Formosa Avenue during the same meeting.

In an effort to quicken the permitting timeframe, the commission approved a recommendation that would allow city staffers to sign off on smaller projects without having to turn to the Planning Commission for review.

City staff would be able to approve buildings of 10 units or less, with anything greater needing approval from the higher-up. Staff initially wanted the limit to clock in at 12 units. Currently, they can only approve projects with eight or less units.

In addition to a slow system, the city’s laws currently force developers to build to at least 90 percent of a lot’s capacity — meaning a lot with space for up to 10 units would have to house at least nine units. That’s been a cause for concern for developers who can’t realistically achieve that 90 percent capacity, while also leading to some odd-shaped projects.

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City officials are now ditching the 90 percent requirement and replacing it with a “no net loss” rule, meaning a developer can’t tear down an apartment building to replace it with a new building with fewer units.

City staff also recommended moving a key concession — an extra 10 feet in height in exchange for low-income units — to a different place on the menu of available concessions to make it less apparent to developers. Commissioners ultimately felt the change wouldn’t impact much considering developers are already very aware it exists, and compromised to move it further down the list.

These recommendations will head to the City Council for approval, likely early in 2018. [WeHoV]Natalie Hoberman