Pustilnikov strikes again with ‘builder’s remedy’ in Beverly Hills

16-story project filing comes after flurry of applications in Santa Monica

Beverly Hills City mayor Lili Bosse and 125 Linden Drive (Google Maps, City of Beverly Hills/Public domain/Wikimedia Commons)
Beverly Hills City mayor Lili Bosse and 125 Linden Drive (Google Maps, City of Beverly Hills/Public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

The builder’s remedy debacle has landed in the elite city of Beverly Hills.

After Santa Monica failed to present the state with a new housing plan in time, developers flocked to submit a flurry of so-called “builder’s remedy” projects. Under state law, these projects do not require any approval from city council or planning commissions: in other words, they, in theory, get an automatic greenlight if 20 percent of the units are classified as affordable.

Now, L.A. developer Leo Pustilnikov has submitted a builder’s remedy project in the city of Beverly Hills — a 16-story development with 200 units, according to a copy of the application obtained by TRD. It’s the only builder’s remedy project the city has received to date, a city spokesperson said.

It’s not Pustilnikov’s first dalliance with builder’s remedy — earlier this year, the developer filed a builder’s remedy project to build 2,300 residential units in Redondo Beach, after that city also failed to produce a state-approved housing plan and fell out of compliance. That project is likely to face more scrutiny, given it falls in the purview of the California Coastal Commission.

In Beverly Hills, Pustilnikov filed an application to build a roughly 260,000-square-foot development in the Golden Triangle at 125 Linden Drive, on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard. The developer bought the site — part of which is vacant, the other part a parking lot — for $16 million in 2019, records show.

Under state law, builder’s remedy projects do not have to face approval or discussion and “bypass zoning codes,” as long as 20 percent of the proposed units are designated as affordable and the state has not approved a housing plan, according to a UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs analysis.

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Beverly Hills is at least the third Californian city to face the builder’s remedy repercussions. In January, the California Department of Housing and Community Development denied Beverly Hills’ housing element plan — a state mandate that requires cities to outline specific housing goals and objectives.

More than 120 jurisdictions in L.A., Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties have housing plans that have yet to be approved by the state, according to the L.A. Times. San Francisco is also at risk of entering noncompliance.

California’s Department of Housing and Community Development did not respond to a request for comment, but confirmed to the Los Angeles Times earlier this week that Beverly Hills’ latest housing plan has still not yet been approved by the state, putting it in noncompliance.

Projects could still be challenged under the California Environmental Quality Act, or face other legal challenges. The city of Santa Monica has hired attorneys to help fight the builder’s remedy projects, though it’s unclear what avenues they have to block them.

Pustilnikov, who owns the AES power plant in Redondo Beach, also did not respond to a request for comment.

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