The West Hollywood City Council voted Monday to reject the proposed development of a retail and office complex on Sunset Boulevard after residents complained that it would increase traffic on the congested thoroughfare.
The city Planning Commission had approved the four-story 75,000-square-foot commercial complex for a one-block area between Horn Avenue and Sherbourne Drive on Sunset Boulevard. However, in September the Shoreham Heights Neighborhood Assn., which represents neighbors of the project site, appealed the commission's decision.
After the council's 4-1 decision to reject the development, Sibyl Zaden, president of the neighborhood organization, said, "I am totally ecstatic. I am happy for the city and I am happy for the neighborhood. The people can have a voice."
The only dissenting vote was cast by Mayor Alan Viterbi, who agreed with the developer that "the main source of our problems (traffic) is outside our boundaries."
Impact on Traffic
Zaden said she opposed the project because of the impact it would have on traffic and parking in the area and because the city's study of the traffic impact, conducted by the Spagnola Group, a private engineering firm, was inadequate.
"We don't feel the traffic report was reflective of the conditions that exist in that area," Zaden said. "We're not against development. We're concerned about the circulation and safety of the neighborhood and the city, and that's why we took such a strong position."
Other complaints by residents ranged from obstruction of apartment views to an overtaxed sewer system.
Developer Ali Ebrahimi of Ersa Grae Corp. of Santa Monica, said, "There is no way on earth we can do anything about traffic on Sunset. That's a regional problem. If the building is one story or less, it won't significantly impact traffic."
Some area residents said they were disappointed with the council's decision.
Gary Fowler, a 17-year resident of Shoreham Heights, said, "We lost a golden opportunity to solve a myriad of problems, like parking for Spago" restaurant.
The restaurant, 1114 Horn Ave., has long been a source of traffic and parking congestion in the neighborhood.
As part of a good-faith effort, Ebrahimi agreed to provide 60 free parking spaces for Spago employees.
Ebrahimi expressed his disappointment in the council's decision, saying, "We don't know what to do. We have met every single city requirement and spent several hundred thousand dollars to date" on the project.
He added, "This sends the completely wrong signal to all developers."