The Sunset Square community in which we live is an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) filled with 100-year-old craftsman bungalows and arboreal sidewalks. It’s also home to an elementary school, hundreds of happy dogs, and thousands of residents who appreciate the pedestrian-friendly character of our idyllic, family-oriented district. For more than a year, a coalition of outraged neighbors, school parents and small business owners have vehemently opposed a proposed shopping mall at 7445 Sunset Blvd, directly beside the school. This week, a City zoning administrator, Mr. Francisco Tovar, will rule on the validity of the applicant’s proposal.
The smart money is betting that Mr. Tovar will disallow the wildly inappropriate project. The neighborhood will enjoy a (temporary) reprieve.
For a minute.
And then there will be another inappropriately intense project invading our neighborhood. It’s called 7500 Sunset, and it’s meant to occupy two entire blocks, from Curson and Sierra Bonita all the way to the corner of Gardner Street. Instead of adhering to existing zoning and height regulations, the developers are proposing a five-story “mixed use” building, with retail on the bottom and luxury apartments above. They suppose that the community ought to reward them for making few improvements on their existing buildings — some would say “neglecting” their existing buildings. These low-slung retail shops, including Meltdown Comics, the Elderberries Cafe and Parisian Florists, will all be demolished.
The Sunset Square neighborhood has a multitude of concerns about 7500. The developers, Faring Capital, are known to local residents as the Illoulian family, who own large swaths of Los Angeles real estate. The Illoulians claim to be keenly interested in working with the community, getting feedback, answering questions. Indeed, the following invitation has been circulating around our neighborhood:
I am pleased to invite you to a community meeting to learn more about proposed plans for the mixed-use project at 7500 Sunset Boulevard. Spanning the two blocks between Curson Avenue and Gardner Street, this project will be an important part of the future of our neighborhood. Join us for a presentation from the project’s creators – FARING – and share your thoughts directly with the project team. Refreshments will be served, we look forward to seeing you there!
DATE: Wednesday – June 28, 2017
TIME: 7:00 – 8:00 PM
LOCATION: 1601 N. Genesee Avenue, 90046 (parking passes provided)
That the meet-and-greet is being held at the home of Fred Anawalt, owner of the eponymous lumber and garden store, might strike some as curious. As recently as last election cycle, Anawalt was being encouraged to run for the City Council seat now occupied by David Ryu, who, thanks to serial betrayals of his constituents, seems to have already resigned himself to not being re-elected.
Even more curious is Faring’s choice of community liaison. Their ambassador is John Gile, a professional bagman for local politicians and the disgraced former president of Friends of Runyon Canyon. Without Neighborhood Council approval or permits, Gile and his cronies tried to sneak a horizontal billboard into the park in the form of a basketball court, the community resisted, and the project was halted and terminated. Under Gile’s leadership, FORC cost City taxpayers nearly $250,000 in legal fees and settlements, and the group’s Memo of Understanding with the City was torn-up and re-written to prevent further chicanery.
That Faring would align themselves with someone who has previously demonstrated contempt for the concerns of the community calls their sincerity into question.
But we’ll give the Illoulians the benefit of the doubt. Even though previous meetings, including a contentious Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council hearing, have raised serious concerns about the size and scale of 7500, the Illoulians, with young Jason Illoulian leading the effort, have charged onward. We’ll assume they truly are interested in hearing and responding to community concerns over their mega-project. We’ll assume they’re willing to make changes — big changes — to their project in order to garner the support of our Sunset Square neighborhood.
If we could attend Wednesday night, here are some of the questions we’d ask:
+ Have you studied the impact 7500 will have on response time for Fire Station 41 — whose driveway is located about 50-yards from the project site?
+ How much additional response time is appropriate for our neighborhood? Another 30 seconds? A minute? [Current average time for the fire truck is almost 7-and-a-half-minutes.]
+ Have you studied the impact 7500 will have on Gardner Street, the main north-south artery connecting FS41 with the hills and, coincidentally, the street on which most parents drop off and pick up their children from school?
+ How will the presence of thousands of additional daily vehicle trips benefit the Sunset Square HPOZ?
+ How do you compensate the thousands of people who live south of the 7500 site for the obliteration of their Hollywood Hills view?
+ To which local politicians or PACs did you contribute this past election cycle? What local politician told you this is a good development for the neighborhood?
+ What happens to the City-owned parking lot adjacent to the site — and beside Fire Station 41?
+ When will you feel have enough?