COMMUNITY CONCERNED - A growing number of residents and businesses in the Westlake neighborhood are voicing concerns over Mayor Karen Bass’ proposal to convert the historic 15-story Mayfair Hotel into a permanent homeless housing facility. With an estimated cost exceeding $83 million, residents are questioning the project’s financial feasibility and long-term impact. The Mayor’s office is attempting to railroad this project through with not one public notice, not one community meeting and no outreach to the predominantly Latino neighborhood.
For years, the Westlake neighborhood in downtown LA has been at the forefront of efforts to provide housing solutions for the homeless population in Los Angeles. The area already hosts permanent supportive housing and interim housing, actively contributing to addressing the homelessness crisis in the City. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mayfair Hotel was utilized as a part of Project Roomkey, temporarily housing hundreds of unhoused individuals. However, the repercussions of this initiative continue to reverberate throughout the community.
In July 2022, the Mayfair Hotel concluded its involvement in Project Roomkey after serving as a site for two years. The property’s proprietors subsequently sought over $11 million from the City for extensive damage to the building and its furnishings during this period. In addition, the Los Angeles Fire Department was called numerous times to respond to fires in the building, along with a large number of overdoses and other medical emergencies. The Mayfair Hotel is located one block from the John Liechty Middle School and two blocks from Esperanza Elementary School.
“In stark contrast to the community outreach for a planned 30-unit temporary shelter in Westwood and a high-profile homeless projects in Woodland Hills that were approved used solely for families and single mothers and Seniors, which is not even being considered for this site, Los Angeles leaders have inexplicably failed to extend any form of notification to our community, let alone organize a single community meeting,” said Eileen Cohen, a long-time property owner in Westlake.
“The latest proposal from the Mayor’s Office aims to acquire the Mayfair Hotel, converting it into a permanent interim housing facility. The plan envisions accommodating over 2,000 individuals within the next two years, creating a constant influx of residents in and out of the neighborhood. We know that this project will not just keep people inside the property but will likely cause new encampments and those that prey on them to take up shop outside it as well. Despite the scale and potential impact of the project, community engagement has been non-existent, leaving residents feeling unheard and marginalized,” added Elaine Alaniz, President of the Westlake North Neighborhood Council.
The Westlake community is united in its call for a more inclusive and transparent approach to the Mayfair Hotel homeless housing conversion. This project’s future impact on the neighborhood, its residents, and the broader Los Angeles community warrants careful consideration and thorough public discourse. This project would create the largest concentration of homeless housing outside of Skid Row.
A comparison of Westlake to West LA and Woodland Hills shows a contrast between these neighborhoods:
[Recent Town Hall Update: At a recent town hall, the Deputy Mayor listened to the concerns of LA’s Westlake Neighborhood stakeholders regarding their plea to retain the historical integrity of the building and the potential consequences of hasty decisions affecting the fabric of the community. The Deputy Mayor acknowledged their concerns and emphasized the differences between the current proposal and the previous “Project Room Key.”]
Deputy Mayor of Community Engagement, Jared Rivera, City of Los Angeles
(Elaine Alaniz is the President of the Westlake North Neighborhood Council.)