Despite deep concerns among North Hollywood residents about the controversial NoHo West mega-project at 6150 Laurel Canyon Boulevard near the 170 freeway, Los Angeles City Council member Paul Krekorian made clear on Tuesday, July 26, at a public hearing that he fully supports the oversized development that’s located next to a low-slung, residential community. Once again, City Hall appears to be siding with deep-pocketed developers.
At a well-attended L.A. planning department hearing at Van Nuys City Hall, Karo Torossian, the director of planning for Council member Krekorian, testified that Krekorian backed NoHo West as proposed. Torossian and his boss, who represent North Hollywood in Council District 2, were unmoved by local residents’ worries that the mega-project would destroy the character of their neighborhood and create nightmarish traffic problems.
“We are concerned about the six-story apartment building,” said Diann Corral, president of the Laurel Grove Neighborhood Association, at the hearing. “It’s not in keeping with the character of our neighborhood.” She also added that no traffic mitigations had been offered to residents.
Merlone Geier Partners, a San Francisco-based firm, and Goldstein Planting Investments, a Los Angeles-based firm, are the developers behind NoHo West, a project that features a whopping 1.6 million square feet of retail and residential space with 742 rental units. It’s a massive project that the developers have been pushing hard at City Hall.
Merlone Geier employees, including chairman Bradley Geier and partner Peter Merlone, have given $6,500 in campaign contributions to L.A. politicians between 2008 and 2015, and the developer paid $240,182 for a City Hall lobbyist to schmooze with the City Council, the planning department and the building and safety department.
Goldstein Planting Investments employees have spread around $7,400 in campaign contributions to local pols between 2009 and 2015, and the firm shelled out $174,349 for a City Hall lobbyist to meet with the City Council and city agencies.
During the hearing, the developers seemed to wave off community concerns, going so far as to tell residents what was best for them.
“The neighborhood needs to grow,” a representative for the developers said at the hearing.
But many residents sounded a similar theme — while retail development was welcomed, the proposal to jam 740 rental units into two large towers with no traffic mitigations was not. One resident testified, “Density is a buzzword of developers. It is their profit point. But in a neighborhood, it is a killer.” Another resident said, “Your decisions today will affect my life.”
Residents also believed the traffic studies in the project’s environmental impact report were inaccurate with bad data.
There was little mention, however, about the health impacts of building NoHo West next to the 170 freeway — according to top scientific researchers at USC and UCLA, children and pregnant women who live in freeway-adjacent homes, known as “Black Lung Lofts,” are more likely to suffer serious health problems. The L.A. City Council continues to ignore the serious public health problem and approve such housing.
But that’s what happens in L.A. broken planning and land-use system. Developers spread around big cash at City Hall, and expect profitable favors in return from City Council members no matter what local residents have to say. Since 2000, the real estate industry has contributed at least $6 million to the campaign war chests of L.A. politicians.
Enough is enough. We need to reform L.A.’s broken planning and land-use system, which is what the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative will do.
In fact, the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. City Council, Mayor Eric Garcetti and numerous neighborhood groups all agree that reform is desperately needed.
Join our citywide, grassroots movement by clicking here right now to donate any amount you wish, and follow and cheer our efforts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Developers and their politician pals will do anything to defeat our reform movement and continue their wrong-headed policies. But together, we, the citizens, can create the change that L.A. needs!