LA SITE PLANNING - The politicians at LA City Hall are constantly telling us we’re in the middle of a housing crisis, but the folks at LA City Planning don’t seem to have gotten the message. How else can you explain the department’s approval late last year of a hotel project that involves the demolition of 40 RSO units at 1719 Whitley in Hollywood? While the decision to demo housing for hotel rooms would be troubling under ordinary circumstances, the history of this particular project makes City Planning’s approval hard to believe.
This project was already challenged in court, and the City lost. Apparently unable to accept the idea that these 40 RSO units still remain standing, City Planning has started the process all over again.
This 10-story hotel was originally approved in 2019. At that time, United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles (UN4LA) found it hard to believe that the City was ready to allow the demolition of 40 rent-stabilized units to make way for a hotel. UN4LA appealed the determination. The City denied the appeal. In 2020, UN4LA filed a lawsuit to overturn the City's approval of the project. In 2022, the courts granted UN4LA’s petition, and ordered the City to revoke approval of the project. The City appealed the decision, but in June 2023 the appellate court upheld the ruling. UN4LA thought the matter had been settled.
Unbelievably, after all of this, on December 20 LA City Planning published a new determination letter essentially approving the same project all over again.
How this is possible?! After all the rhetoric about keeping people housed and preventing displacement, how can City Planning throw away 40 RSO units to make way for a hotel? How can City Hall credibly claim that they’re trying to provide housing accessible to low-income families when approvals like this demonstrate that City Planning has no commitment to preserving existing housing stock?
Unwilling to let the City of LA get away with this shameful act, UN4LA has filed an appeal. The date for the hearing has not yet been set.
(Casey Maddren is president of United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles (UN4LA [www.un4la.com]) and a CityWatch contributor.)