San Pedro could get a hotel next to historic Warner Grand theater

Posted · Add Comment
The historic Warner Grand Theatre can be seen on the right.

The 80-room hotel would have a rooftop deck and bar

San Pedro’s historic movie palace, the Warner Grand Theatre, could be getting a fancy neighbor. Plans presented at an October 17 joint meeting of the Northwest, Central, and Coastal San Pedro neighborhood councils show the seven-story boutique hotel that would rise on a now-vacant lot at the corner of Sixth Street and Pacific Avenue.

The hotel’s designs, by Axis GFA Architecture + Design, attempt to incorporate elements of the Warner Grand and surrounding buildings, such as zig zag banding and chevron patterns. The hotel will also have a neon blade sign, as the theater does.

In addition to 80 guest rooms, the structure would also hold a 2,000-square-foot restaurant and a rooftop deck and bar.

Property records show the parcel is owned by an LLC connected to West Hollywood-based development firm AJ Khair, which was a developer on the recently opened La Peer Hotel on Melrose.

The firm also has a hotel in the works on Wilcox north of Franklin Avenue in Hollywood.

AJ Khair declined to answer questions about the project, and a timeline for the build-out of the hotel has not been announced.

The Warner Grand is a landmark movie theater designed by B. Marcus Priteca in what the Los Angeles Conservancy calls a “Classical Moderne” style. The interiors are Art Deco all the way, with Deco tile and lighting fixtures.

Like many old movie houses, it went through a series of names and programming changes in the decades since its 1931 opening. It was purchased by the Department of Cultural Affairs in 1996, and is now used as a venue for a variety of events.

The lot where the hotel will rise has been vacant since 2015, when a fire destroyed a commercial building on the site, Urbanize LA notes.

Groovy midcentury with bomb shelter asks $1.4M in the Valley

Posted · Add Comment
The open living and dining room includes a dual-sided stone fireplace.

The house also has terrazzo floors and walls of glass

This stylish modern residence in Granada Hills was built in 1960, the same year that an American spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, worsening relations between the two nuclear superpowers.

Perhaps that explains why, per the listing, a bomb shelter was constructed beneath the house (it now serves as a particularly well-insulated basement). Other features of the home have also been updated, but the property retains plenty of Cold War-era features, including vaulted ceilings, terrazzo floors, and soaring walls of glass.

The roomy house has 4,095 square feet of living space, with five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. Other interior features include a light-filled entry room with living ferns, clerestory windows, and a two-sided living room fireplace framed by an impressive wall of stone.

The home sits on a half-acre lot near the Knollwood Country Club. The parcel includes a grassy lawn, a covered patio, and a swimming pool and spa.

Asking price is $1.399 million.

Front of house
Front entry
Living room
Kitchen
Bedroom
Bomb shelter basement
Per the listing, the basement was built as a bomb shelter.
Swimming pool

LA leaders seek to expand rent control

Posted · Add Comment
Around 631,000 units in Los Angeles are covered under the city’s rent control ordinance.

But without passage of a key ballot measure, that could be tricky

In Los Angeles, where more than half the city’s renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, local leaders are looking for a way to get more units of housing covered by the city’s rent stabilization ordinance.

On Tuesday, councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Herb Wesson introduced a motion asking city staff to “evaluate the city’s RSO” and to provide “recommendations on how to expand the city’s ability to help more renters.”

Right now, the rent control policy, which limits yearly price increases to between 3 and 8 percent, covers roughly 631,000 units across the city. That’s close to 44 percent of all homes and apartments in LA, both rented and occupant-owned.

But elected officials want to bring more units under the policy’s fold.

“We have a moral obligation to make living more affordable in Los Angeles,” said Wesson in a statement. “By taking a fresh look at the RSO, we have the opportunity to do right by our city’s residents, property owners and next generations.”

In less than two weeks, California voters will weigh in on Proposition 10, a ballot measure that would repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which limits the ability of cities to place certain units under rent control.

Under Costa Hawkins, rent control can only be applied to housing built prior to 1995. In LA, the date is even earlier because the law freezes in place an October 1978 cutoff that was part of the city’s ordinance when the law went into effect.

If Proposition 10 passes, LA leaders could move that date up, applying rent control provisions to newer units. The restrictions could also be applied to single-family homes and condos, which are also exempt from rent control under Costa Hawkins.

But last week a Los Angeles Times poll found that only 41 percent of likely voters favor the measure, making its success in November uncertain at best.

If Proposition 10 fails, Costa Hawkins could still be repealed or restructured by state legislators. But in the meantime, it’s unclear what local officials could do to expand the provisions of LA’s rent control policy to more tenants.

“If Costa Hawkins isn’t repealed, this motion will produce no results,” says Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Yaroslavsky, who sat on the City Council when LA’s rent stabilization ordinance went into effect, argues that Costa Hawkins presents barriers to rent control expansion that would be difficult to surmount.

In rare cases, landlords have voluntarily placed apartments under the restrictions of the policy. Last year, the developer of a residential tower in Hollywood agreed to put all 210 of the building’s units under rent control after tenant advocates objected to the project because it would require demolition of an existing complex.

Yaroslavsky says the council could use zoning change approvals as “leverage” to get more developers to do this, but that adding rent stabilized units on a “project-by-project basis” wouldn’t adequately address the city’s affordable housing woes.

LA officials haven’t clarified how they’ll continue efforts to expand the city’s rent control policy if Proposition 10 fails; the City Council voted 13-1 to endorse the measure Tuesday.

Sweet Studio City one-bedroom condo seeks $435K

Posted · Add Comment

Hardwood floors, a private patio, and its own citrus tree

The Valley is known for garden-style complexes with their midcentury charms, like this one in Studio City. The sweet Traditional condo building dates to 1955 but the one-bedroom unit up for sale here looks much more 2018.

Located more or less on the border between Studio City and Toluca Lake, the ground-floor residence holds hardwood floors and an updated kitchen with granite counters and a tile backsplash.

The 741-square-foot dwelling only has one bedroom, but it is a spacious one. The bathroom still retains a few vintage-looking touches, like a mint green sink.

There’s even a little outdoor space—a private back patio with a citrus tree and room for lounging.

The unit comes with a designated parking space. It’s asking $435,000 with HOA dues of $342.

2018 Los Angeles voter guide

Posted · Add Comment

A cheat sheet for Los Angeles County residents casting votes in the November 6 general election

On November 6, Los Angeles County voters get to cast ballots in the 2018 general election.

The ballot includes a handful of measures that may direct the future of housing and transportation statewide, including Proposition 10. If passed, the contentious measure will roll back restrictions on rent control in California, where nearly one in three renter households puts more than 50 percent of their income toward housing.

There are also key decision to make locally. If you live in Santa Monica, you’ll pick three people to represent you on the City Council, and if you’re an Inglewood resident, you’ll choose whether to keep Mayor James Butts in office.

Here is a guide to who and what is on the ballot in the November general election in Los Angeles County, with a focus on the issues that Curbed covers. We’ve selected the propositions and elections that will have an impact on housing and infrastructure in Los Angeles.

But if those aren’t not enough to lure you to the ballot box, there are two other big reasons to vote: You’ll have a say on whether Sen. Dianne Feinstein remains in office—and you’ll help elect California’s next governor.

There’s still plenty of time to cram. Polls don’t close until 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you’ll be out of town on November 6, request a vote-by-mail ballot (the deadline to apply is October 30).

Until then, here’s your cheat sheet. Study up, then vote.

California

Proposition 10

In what could be a boon to renters, this measure would give cities the ability to expand rent control, including potentially to newer apartments buildings. It would do that by repealing Costa Hawkins, a 23-year-old state law that puts limits on how cities like Los Angeles enact rent control. One of the law’s provisions? A rule that says LA can’t apply rent control to buildings constructed after 1978.

See how this measure would change rent control in Los Angeles.

Proposition 5

Should older homeowners who purchase a new home get a break on their property taxes? That would happen if Proposition 5 passes. It would allow homeowners in California who are 55 and older to tie the property taxes for their new home to the taxable value of their old home.

Explore how this measure would benefit older homeowners in California.

Proposition 6

Also known as the “gas tax repeal,” Proposition 6 would undo a hike on the tax that drivers pay at the pump. The tax increase went into effect less than one year ago but is poised to generate lots of money for big transit projects, including the construction of a train station near LAX.

Dive deeper into what the gas tax repeal would mean for transportation in LA.

Proposition 1

This measure asks voters to authorize the state to borrow up to $4 billion to pay for affordable rentals for low-income Californians, the construction of denser housing near public transit, and home loans for veterans.

Will all that money help alleviate the state’s housing crisis? Learn more here.

Los Angeles County

Measure W

County officials want voter approval for a tax that homeowners and other property owners would pay in order to fund the collection, treatment, and recycling of rainwater that otherwise flows into the ocean.

The measure doesn’t have widespread support; discover why here.

Santa Monica

City Council

Scooters. Development. Traffic. Seven candidates are running for four-year terms in office in Santa Monica, and they have taken stands on issues like these. In interviews with Curbed, they’ve also laid out their priorities for the city.

Read the Q&As with candidates here.

Measure SM

For years, builders, city leaders, and residents have fought over the pace and scale of development in Santa Monica. The dust is starting to settle, but the debate isn’t over. This measure would make it tougher for developers to erect denser, taller buildings.

Dig into how this measure would impact Santa Monica.

Inglewood

Mayor

For better or worse, Inglewood is changing quickly, and depending on your point of view, Mayor James Butts deserves the credit or the blame. Now, he’s up for reelection, and four residents want to unseat him.

Learn more about Butts and his work in Inglewood—and his challengers.

Endorsements

The following is a list of local publications’ and advocacy groups’ endorsements for the November 6 election.

Publications:

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Daily News

Political and advocacy groups:

Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles

Green Party of Los Angeles County

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Los Angeles County Democratic Party

Los Angeles League of Women Voters

The Republican Party of Los Angeles County

Sierra Club, Los Angeles Chapter

Stonewall Democratic Club

Santa Monica ballot measure would require ‘supermajority’ vote for taller, denser buildings

Posted · Add Comment

Would it put an end to development wars—or bring them back?

Development battles in Santa Monica have largely fizzled out. Now, two City Councilmembers seeking reelection say they want to end the building wars for good.

A measure on the November 6 ballot would require developers to get the approval of a “supermajority” of the Santa Monica City Council to deviate from the city’s building height and density limits.

If Measure SM passes, for the next 10 years, developers wanting to build taller or denser would need a “yes” vote from five of seven members of the City Council. Right now, the threshold is four votes.

That’s an important distinction, says Kevin McKeown, who co-sponsored the measure with Sue Himmelrich. Both councilmembers are seeking reelection.

Historically, votes on some of the biggest, most high-profile development projects in Santa Monica have been split, McKeown says.

“Measure SM eliminates those squeakers that previously got through on the barest majority vote,” he says. “It is significantly more difficult for a developer to earn that fifth vote to go beyond our adopted plans.”

Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day oppose Measure SM. They argue it would actually incite more fights over development.

“I was so looking forward to having an election on the ballot where we would not have development wars,” Davis said in June, when the council discussed it. “Now we are voluntarily inviting election wars.”

“The circus is coming to town again,” O’Day said. “Here’s the sideshow for development fighting.”

Two years ago, a far more extreme proposal to curtail building heights in Santa Monica appeared on the ballot. Measure LV would have subjected any new construction taller than 32 feet—the equivalent of two stories—to voter approval.

That measure was defeated at the ballot box, with more than 56 percent of residents voting against it.

But McKeown says it would be a “mistake” to ignore the 44 percent of residents who voted in favor of Measure LV.

If developers want “to exceed our limits in any way, they’d better come to us with a truly spectacular project,” he says.

Measure SM has an exemption for housing projects that are 100 percent affordable and projects on school district property. And, according to the Santa Monica Lookout, the measure wouldn’t affect development projects that have already been proposed.

The measure was placed on the November 6 ballot measure on June 26 on a 4-2 vote of the City Council.

“The premise of this supermajority provision is that if something is a really good idea, it will get five votes,” Davis said at the time. This measure “isn’t getting five votes tonight.”

“By its own definition, it might not be a very good idea,” she said.

Drake reportedly buys 1950s ranch home in the Valley

Posted · Add Comment
The newly purchased home, with the YOLO estate on  the left.

Right across from the “YOLO estate”

Drake may be expanding his portfolio of Los Angeles-area real estate. Variety reports that the Grammy-winning artist paid $4.5 million for a house that neighbors his “YOLO estate” in Hidden Hills.

Drake purchased that over-the-top residence in 2012 for $7.7 million. In 2016, it was widely reported that he had paid $2.85 million for a 1950s ranch house across the street. Officially, that house is owned by the Richard Fitzenwell Trust (which may or may not be a Bart Simpson-style gag name).

At the end of August, the trust closed a deal on another neighboring residence.

With the purchase of the new home, a roughly 2,450-square-foot ranch with three bedrooms, Drake adds more than 2 acres to his growing compound in the western San Fernando Valley.

It’s unclear whether the rapper or any members of his entourage plan to actually live in the home. Built in 1957, the residence looks to be in need of some interior updates, but boasts some nice features, including beamed ceilings and a brick barbecue.

Drake’s main house across the way, meanwhile, has a swimming pool complete with grotto, a mechanical bull, and a revolving bookshelf that leads to the master bedroom.

Even while making real estate moves in LA, Drake is also investing boatloads of cash into a behemoth megamansion in his home city of Toronto. It will reportedly include a pool and hot tub suspended above a full-size indoor basketball court.

Plans emerge to turn former West Hollywood brothel into boutique hotel

Posted · Add Comment
The Piazza del Sol at 8439 Sunset

A former brothel, the national landmark is located right on the Sunset Strip

The Sunset Strip’s hotel roster might be getting another addition. West Hollywood’s historic preservation commission is set to hear plans today to convert a 1927 office building, the Piazza del Sol, into a boutique hotel.

The four-story building houses roughly 56,000 square feet of offices and the hotspot restaurant, Katana. If the property owner’s plans are approved, the landmark building will function as an 36-room hotel with two restaurants and a rooftop pool and lounge.

The “Italian Rennaissance-style” Piazza del Sol is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the state historic register, and is a designated West Hollywood historic monument. It predates the Chateau Marmont and the Sunset Towers.

Built in 1927, the Piazza—then called the Hacienda Arms Apartments—operated as a luxury hotel. By the 1930s, it was the most famous brothel in the state, according to documents prepared by history consultants for the project’s review.

When Lee Francis, the madam who operated the brothel, was arrested in 1940, it marked the beginning of a decades-long decline and a handful of name changes for the property.

In the 1980s, the property was briefly owned by singer Rod Stewart, who hoped to make it into a luxury hotel. That plan was never realized and the hotel was sold. In 1983 a possible arson fire ravaged the structure. That same year, the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Property records show that the current owners, Mani Brothers, acquired the Piazza and an adjoining parking garage in 1999. The West Hollywood-based group owns a number of other properties on the Sunset Strip, including office buildings at 9000 and 9200 Sunset Boulevard.

City staffers are recommending that the historic preservation commission approve the conversion and rehab of the building. In a report, they write that “that the proposed work will help preserve the cultural resource without impacting its integrity.”

If approved by the commission, the plans would still need the approval of the full West Hollywood City Council.

Inside a ‘timeless yet modern’ home in Encino

Posted · Add Comment

Making classic and contemporary elements “play nice”

It’s not often that a client plays matchmaker for designers, but in the case of Los Angeles-based interior design firm Proem Studio and a homeowner in Encino, California, that’s just what went down.

Interior designers Ashley Drost and Marie Trohman each had their own practices when a homeowner approached them about, well, getting together. Drost had worked with the client on a previous home and Trohman knew the client personally. The client saw a partnership waiting to happen.

“It’s very unusual for somebody to be like, ‘Hey, designers, start working together’ because usually people have pretty big egos,” Trohman laughs. But the project brought them together, and Proem Studio was born. The Encino project was their first together and the rest was, as they say, history. “I know it’s not a normal way to start a business,” she continues. “But ever since, we’ve taken on six or seven other projects in LA and New York. So, [that client] was right.”

Custom chairs and a sofa from Croft House with white-linen cushions cut a more structural figure than the furnishings inside.
A dining table by Harbour Outdoor and director’s chairs by Skargaarden sit under the pergola. The barstools (right) are from Tolix.

The homeowners, a couple with two dogs, moved into the new-build house in 2016, which was developed by LA-based Jason Pietruszka. Trohman and Drost describe the home’s design as a mix between traditional and modern, something they referred to as California modern. Oak floors laid in a handsome herringbone pattern play nicely with the kitchen’s Shaker-style cabinetry as they do with the sleek painted-brick fireplace, with its built-in firewood storage; in other areas of the house, the flooring is composed of long, elegant oak panels, as in the entry and formal living and dining rooms, which the designers styled in a not-so-formal way.

Barstools from Lawson Fenning in Edelman leather line up along the kitchen island, while pendants from Circa Lighting hang above. The cabinets sport brushed-brass hardware from Emtek. Wishbone Chairs by Hans Wegner sit around the dining table.

In the kitchen, a statement marble backsplash and brass fixtures keep things current, and, throughout, the home’s color palette is largely neutral, which gives it a timeless feel. Outside, there’s plenty of room for entertaining, with a large, grassy yard, a pool, and an expansive patio.

Through all of their work together, the Encino project continues to stick with Drost and Trohman, particularly because of the collaborative and involved nature of their relationship with the homeowner. “[The wife] wanted to love every single piece that was going in there,” Trohman explains, noting that the wife took the lead on the design process. “She wanted everything to say something and she wanted things to jive, so she was really involved in every detail of the project.”

Lawson Fenning nightstands and leather Materia sconces flank a Restoration Hardware bed, in front of which sits a wood bench by Lostine. An antique Mallayer rug from Woven brings everything together.
In the master bathroom, a woven pendant by Palecek adds warmth and texture to the marble on the wall and floor. A vintage milking stool and a Lostine wooden ladder sit beside the bathtub, and a photograph by Alex Cave hangs on the wall.

Drost and Trohman helped the couple furnish basically every square foot, as their previous home was more midcentury modern in style. “We did a lot of classic midcentury furniture [in the previous home] which just wasn’t translating well in this style of house,” Drost says. “We sold everything that they had and started fresh.” They did bring along the Restoration Hardware bed and and the bedroom sconces, from Materia, as those pieces were more muted.

Proem approaches design by considering what the client has in mind and how they plan to use the space; where the light is coming from; and where clients’ things go. “[We’re trying to figure out] the nuts and bolts of what daily life in that home looks like, so that no matter what we put in there, it’s going to age well with them,” says Trohman. She mentions that they’ve never used the same brand throughout a home because “once you pull out one piece of furniture, it’s hard to replace because the whole thing falls apart.”

A Restoration Hardware sofa anchors the media room, behind which sits a custom console with a Croft House leather top. The console displays a ceramic Ben Medansky bowl and ceramic M Quan chains. Large doors open up the full length of the wall so the house has an indoor-outdoor feel.

In the Encino home, they started their work from the media room and worked from there, with a central feature being a really comfortable couch, from Restoration Hardware, that would be “forgiving for pets and wine spills.” This space, with the black-painted brick fireplace and bar, was the comfortable zone the couple needed—just off the kitchen—to watch TV, hang out with the dogs, and cook. Beside the media room and kitchen, a wall of sliding doors looks out onto the yard and its structural furniture.

Barstools by Lostine sit atop handsome herringbone-wood floors at the bar’s counter, where the client’s large collection of Scotch and whisky is on display.
A light fixture from Circa Lighting hangs above the billiards table. Stools from Lawson Fenning upholstered in Zak+Fox fabric sit under a Freddie Mercury photo from the client’s collection.
Two Lawson Fenning chairs covered in Zak+Fox fabric sit opposite a Chesterfield sofa. A custom black marble coffee table holds court at the center of the room, sitting atop an antique Mallayer Rug from Woven. Nestling beside the fireplace is a vintage chair from Nickey Kehoe. A floor lamp by Jason Koharik illuminates the sofa from the corner (right).

The client decided to forgo a formal entry and eating area in the dining room, and Trohman and Drost decided to flip the whole formal-dining-room idea on its head by making it one of the house’s most informal areas in the house.

“We did a billiards table, which we’ve never done before in a formal dining room, and that kind of pushed us into doing a whiskey gentleman’s lounge up front with a piano and a Chesterfield leather sofa.”

“What I really appreciate about this project is that there’s no filler in the home,” Trohman says. “I think sometimes it’s like ‘we just need a black cabinet, let’s find a black cabinet’ and ‘that one ticks all the boxes, so let’s use that one.’ I would say that nothing that was put in that home isn’t dearly loved by that client.”

LA’s haunted landmarks and their ghost stories, mapped

Posted · Add Comment
 Several ghosts supposedly haunt the Colorado Street Bridge.

For such a young city, Los Angeles does quite a swift business in hauntings (maybe it’s the specter of the film industry?). It’s not just creaky old West Adams mansions that have ghosts either—pretty much every tourist spot is also said to host a spirit or two or 17. For Halloween, we’ve collected 20 such landmarks and their accompanying ghost stories, in handy map form. Enjoy/beware!

Today is the last day to register to vote

Posted · Add Comment

Everything you need to know before the November 6 election

Today is the deadline to register to vote in the November 6 general election, when Los Angeles County residents cast votes for 11 state measures and a number of local ones, plus a new governor.

To vote in the election, your registration must be postmarked or filed electronically no later than today. To find out if you are already registered to vote, click here.

This general election might not seem as glamorous as voting for president, but there’s a lot at stake, including a potential repeal of California’s gas tax and a proposal to allow cities and counties—not the state—to regulate rent control.

But first, you’ve got to cast your vote. Here’s where you’ll find everything you need to know about voting on November 6, from when polls are open to how to find your polling place.

When to vote

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, but, if you are waiting in line to vote at 8 p.m. when the polls close, you’re legally allowed to vote. You’re guaranteed time off to vote, so take it! (Under state law, only two hours of it has to be paid).

You can vote early any time between now and November 6 at the Norwalk headquarters of the Los Angeles County Registrar. Nine additional early voting locations will be available the two weekends before Election Day (Oct. 27-28 and Nov. 3-4). Those locations will be posted soon on the county registrar’s website.

How to vote by mail

Voting by mail is still a possibility. The last day to apply for a vote by mail ballot is October 30. (The application must be received by the county registrar by that date.)

Once you’ve filled out your vote by mail ballot, you can drop it off at any polling place on Election Day, or at any one of 150 designated drop-off locations across the county.

If your vote by mail ballot is postmarked on or before November 6 and returned to the county registrar’s office by Friday, November 9, your ballot will be processed and counted. (But please, return your ballot on or by Election Day—don’t push it!)

Where to vote

Your polling place is listed on the back of your sample ballot, but if you’ve misplaced it, don’t worry. This state website lets you plug in your address to find out where you need to go. (If you’re in Los Angeles County, it sends you here.)

If you did not get a sample ballot, make sure you are registered to vote! Check your voter status here.

Get yourself to the polls

If you’re driving, note that parking rules will be “relaxed” within a one-mile radius of every polling location, says Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesperson Oliver Hou. That means parking meters, time limits, preferential parking districts, and street cleaning can be ignored for one day so you can do your civic duty.

Still deciding which way to vote?

You can access all of Curbed LA’s local election coverage here.

What about wearing my “Yes on 10” t-shirt?

Don’t. California has a law forbidding passive electioneering—i.e., wearing any visible campaign statements or carrying signs to a polling place. You will be asked to cover up any politically-charged signage on your body prior to voting.

What to do with your phone down while you’re voting

You can use your cell phone at the poll to access your sample ballot, apps, and to reference any notes you might have taken. And yes, if you feel you must, you can also take a ballot selfie. The in-booth photo is now legal in California.

In bustling downtown Santa Monica, rent-controlled apartments flipping to offices

Posted · Add Comment

Demand is high for office space in beach cities

Santa Monica-based architecture firm KFA Architecture announced this week that it’s leading the restoration and reuse of an 104-year-old landmark.

It’s a new chapter for the handsome brick building, located at Second Street and Arizona Avenue, in the city’s increasingly pricey and bustling downtown. The restoration will turn the Renaissance Revival-style building, once home to more than a dozen disabled and senior renters, into offices for businesses.

Office space in beach neighborhoods, including Santa Monica, as well as Venice, and Playa Vista, continues to be in demand, especially with start-ups and tech companies.

As part of the renovation, the three-story building at 1305 Second Street will be retrofitted for earthquakes, its brick facade and decorative cornice and corbel details will be restored, and a deck area will be added on the roof. Wilshire Skyline, in partnership with Kings Arch, Inc. owns and is developing the project.

Formerly named Mar Vista Apartments, the building, until recently, held 49 rent-controlled apartments. Eight of those units were rented by Section 8 tenants.

The building’s transition from a residential space was not smooth. In March 2014, Wilshire Skyline settled a lawsuit with a group of tenants who had sued alleging harassment. The residents had claimed that the owners were trying to push them out to rent the units at higher rates.

The settlement was aimed at improving conditions for tenants. The owners and management company agreed to receive training in fair housing practices, adopt written policies for making repairs, and halt the practice of offering commissions to employees who persuaded tenants to move out.

Then, less than one year later, in February 2015, the owners invoked the Ellis Act, a state law that allows owners to boot tenants from a rent-controlled building in order to take the building off the rental market.

The last remaining tenants left the building one year later. Fifteen of those residents were disabled or seniors, a report from the Santa Monica Rent Control Board shows.

An opening date for the offices has not been announced.

After heated town hall, LA councilmember ‘still committed’ to Venice homeless shelter

Posted · Add Comment
Venice is home to the largest concentration of homeless residents on the Westside.

The shelter could get a redesign but remains on track to open in 2019

After an acrimonious town hall Wednesday night in which residents shouted, booed, and chanted “recall,” Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin says he remains focused on building a temporary homeless shelter at a former bus lot in Venice.

“The Councilmember is still committed to helping reduce encampments in Venice by building bridge housing” at the Metro-owned site, Bonin spokesperson David Graham-Caso tells Curbed.

Bonin was joined by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore at Wednesday night’s meeting. Battling off jeers, the officials discussed plans for the 154-bed shelter, which would be funded through the mayor’s “A Bridge Home” program.

Announced in April, the initiative is aimed at developing temporary housing centers in each of the city’s 15 council districts to give homeless residents in those areas a place to stay while working with service providers to find permanent housing.

Another shelter in Bonin’s district is already moving forward at the Veterans Affairs campus in Brentwood. But the councilmember told the crowd Wednesday that roughly half of the 2,000 homeless residents living in his district are in Venice.

The neighborhood is home to the largest concentration of homeless residents on the Westside.

“Doing nothing is not an alternative,” said Bonin Wednesday. “We must act.”

Members of the audience voiced a legion of concerns about the project, from whether it would lead to an increase in crime in the neighborhood to whether it could attract more homeless residents to the area.

Garcetti, Bonin, and Moore tried to dispel these fears but were often drowned out by chants of “Venice says no.”

Residents of Koreatown also reacted with fierce opposition to a proposed shelter near the Wilshire/Vermont subway station. Councilmember Herb Wesson, who represents the area, eventually agreed to construct a shelter at a different site.

Graham-Caso says that Bonin and members of his staff are still reviewing input gathered at the meeting in Venice and are having conversations with residents.

Designs for the site, presented at the meeting Wednesday, “will likely change based on community feedback,” he says. “There will be a review process and series of public hearings after a [new] design is finalized.”

Plans for the project call for 100 beds for adults, located in a large canopy-like structure with a climate-controlled interior. An additional 54 beds for homeless youth would be located in portable trailers similar to those at a Downtown LA shelter near the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.

That facility opened in September and is the first—and, so far, the only—shelter built through the Bridge Home initiative.

According to Graham-Caso, a design change won’t stall the Venice project. He tells Curbed that the council office aims to open the shelter “around the spring of 2019.”

Another hot and dry winter for LA?

Posted · Add Comment
A forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts drought conditions will persist in Southern California.

An El Niño may be developing, but it’s not likely to soak Southern California

Los Angeles is in for another hot winter, with little chance for relief from drought conditions that now exist throughout California, according to a new forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That’s in spite of a probable El Niño event, which could bring above-average rainfall to the southwestern United States. The NOAA estimates that there’s a 70 to 75 percent chance that an El Niño develops in late fall or early winter, but it’s likely to be a weak El Niño, meaning that it’s less likely to bring higher than average rainfall to Southern California.

Two winters ago, even a strong El Niño, which many meteorologists predicted would cause torrential downpours and flooding in Southern California, failed to bring even above-average rainfall to the region.

“California’s tricky,” Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, told reporters Thursday. “Even [in 2016] when folks thought the stronger El Nino would tip the odds pretty strongly towards wet, that didn’t really pan out.”

This year NOAA climatologists are hedging their bets, predicting neither a wetter-than-average nor a drier-than-average winter for most of California.

Halpert says the agency is more confident that temperatures will be hotter than normal. In fact, warmer temperatures are in the forecast for every state west of the Mississippi.

According to a temperature outlook from the National Weather Service, there’s a 76 percent chance that temperatures near Downtown LA will be near or above average this winter, and only a 24 percent chance that they will be below average.

Warmer weather certainly won’t ease drought conditions in the region. California relies on snow from the Sierra Nevada mountain range for much of its water supply, and if temperatures aren’t cold enough, some of the precipitation the mountains do get this winter could fall as rain.

Thanks to a wet 2017, current drought conditions aren’t nearly as bleak as they were two years ago, but a dry winter could exacerbate the issue considerably.

Halpert says that a key factor in the wetness or dryness of California’s winter will be the number of atmospheric rivers, or streams of water vapor, that develop above the state during the season.

“Six to eight is kind of the ‘holy grail,’ says Halpert. “At this point we don’t really have the ability to predict those.”

Chairman of LA’s Olympics organizing committee lists Beverly Hills estate for $125M

Posted · Add Comment

If sold at that price, it would be LA’s most expensive home

A home built for sports and marketing executive Casey Wasserman wants to be a record-holder. The Wall Street Journal reports the sprawling contemporary Beverly Hills estate will come on the market with a $125 million price tag.

If it sells for that much, it would be the county’s most expensive house, unseating a Malibu property that Hard Rock Cafe founder Peter Morton sold earlier this year for $110 million.

The three-acre Beverly Hills compound is owned by Wasserman, an entertainment and sports executive who serves as the chairman of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2028 Games.

The property was originally three separate parcels—two owned by Wasserman’s grandparents (the Hollywood studio mogul Lew Wasserman and his wife, philanthropist Edie Wasserman) and one owned by Frank Sinatra.

The house, named Foothill Estate, was built in 2016 and designed by Richard Meier and Partners Architects. Its communal spaces include a “great room” with high ceilings and large automated steel and glass doors that open onto a lawn, dissolving the barrier between indoors and outdoors.

Four bedrooms plus the expansive master suite are upstairs, while staff quarters, a gym, and a screening room are on the first floor. 10- and 12-foot-tall ceilings run throughout the house.

The grounds include a tiled, 85-foot infinity pool, a pool house, and an area for outdoor dining.

Listing agent Stephen Shapiro of the Westside Estate Agency told the Journal that Wasserman was selling because of frequent travel for his role on the Olympic Committee.

Casey Wasserman is a board member at Vox Media, Curbed’s parent company. Vox Media board members have no involvement in Curbed’s editorial planning or execution.

Measure W: LA’s parcel tax for stormwater recycling, explained

Posted · Add Comment
The county wants to institute a parcel tax to clean up water that flows into the ocean.

What would it do, and why is it on the ballot?

Measure W seeks to create a special tax for parcels located in the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, which covers the majority of Los Angeles County. The tax revenue—which homeowners would have to pay—would pay for projects, infrastructure, and programs to capture, treat, and recycle rainwater.

If “The Safe, Clean Water Act” passes, parcels within the flood control district would be taxed at a rate of 2.5 cents per square foot of “impermeable area” (i.e. paved or built-on surfaces that that prevent “stormwater and urban runoff from entering the earth,” like concrete patios).

There would be some exemptions available for properties owned by “qualifying low-income seniors,” government-owned parcels, and those owned by nonprofits. Property owners could apply for credits to pay reduced taxes if they capture or treat stormwater themselves.

Input your address in this online calculator to get an estimate for how much you’d pay if the measure passes.

Who’s behind it?

The parcel tax was proposed by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. In July, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to put the measure on the ballot.

What impact will it have on Los Angeles County?

If the parcel tax is approved, it would raise an estimated $300 million per year for such projects in the LA County.

That money would be doled out to the flood district and cities in the county for projects and programs.

The back story

County officials have said that this tax is needed to help the county and the cities it contains comply with federal water quality laws that require them to capture, treat and recycle runoff.

“The Federal Clean Water Act requires us to clean up our stormwater, but it’s an unfunded mandate,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said at the July 17 supervisors meeting where the measure was approved for the ballot. “We’ve got 88 cities in the county who have been unable to fully address water quality issues because there is no source of funding, and the deadline to meet the requirements is getting closer and closer.”

Arguments for:

  • Approving the measure “will strengthen the county’s capacity to improve water quality and increase water supplies, effectively prepare for emergent environmental and natural hazards, and address the threat of climate change,” county documents say.
  • Urban runoff is a significant source of water pollution. By capturing and treating stormwater, the county could reduce that type of pollution.
  • Approving the measure would help the county use to its advantage billions of gallons of water that would otherwise just run into the ocean.
  • Upgrades to our water system are overdue and much needed.
  • Creating a funding source for stormwater cleanup required by federal law now would help the county avoid expensive penalties later (potentially hundreds of millions of dollars) for not meeting those standards.

“L.A. County is heavily reliant on imported water and faces an uncertain future. Storm water capture systems are a sound investment in our water security efforts.” —Mark Pestrella, director of the LA County Department of Public Works

Arguments against:

  • The measure doesn’t outline specific projects that the money would go toward or any project costs.
  • The parcel tax doesn’t have a set end date, which concerns critics. County residents would have to vote again to end it. Though official wording includes a provision for the county Board of Supervisors to reevaluate the need for the tax in “a period no longer than 30 years,” there are no guarantees the tax would necessarily end at that time.
  • Though property owners who capture stormwater can apply for credits to reduce their taxes, they must essentially reapply for the credits every two years—a process which some say is onerous.

“There are no guaranteed projects, no objectives for capture, no timeline and no guarantees of what the money will pay for. It’s kind of like a blank check,” Los Angeles County Business Federation Advocacy Director D’Andre Valencia told the Long Beach Business Journal

Who supports it?

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • Los Angeles County Supervisors Hahn, Kuehl, Solis, and Ridley-Thomas
  • Friends of the Los Angeles River
  • Los Angeles County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO)

Who opposes it?

  • Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed)
  • California Taxpayers Association
  • Valley Industry & Commerce Association
  • Pasadena Chamber of Commerce

For more information:

 
 
DMS