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City Planning Once Again Fails to Do Its Job, United Neighborhoods Files Complaint with DA and AG

VOICES--City Hall is supposed to play by the rules.  Our elected officials, City employees and City commissioners have a legal duty to uphold the law.  When they knowingly fail to execute that duty, they need to be held accountable. 


 
That's why United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles (UN4LA) has filed a complaint with the L.A. County District Attorney and the State Attorney General asking them to investigate the Department of City Planning (DCP) for possible violations of California Government Code Section 1222, which says:
 
“Every willful omission to perform any duty enjoined by law upon any public officer, or person holding any public trust or employment, where no special provision is made for the punishment of such delinquency, is punishable as a misdemeanor.”
 
UN4LA believes that the Department of City Planning (DCP) violates the law routinely, but our complaint is based on plans by developer Relevant Group to build a cluster of party hotels in Hollywood.  The DCP has already approved the Dream 1, Dream 2, Thompson and tommie hotels.  They're currently considering an application for a fifth hotel at 1600 Schrader.  All of these projects are within a one block radius of Selma and Wilcox, all of them will be offering live entertainment, and all of them will be making alcohol available on every floor from the lobby to the rooftop deck.  While Hollywood is known as an entertainment center, City Planning has ignored the fact that this is also a densely populated residential community.  These hotels will bring more booze to an area that's oversaturated with alcohol and more disruptions to a neighborhood where late night noise is already a problem.  
 
State law says clearly that developers must seek approvals for a project in its entirety, rather than breaking it up into smaller segments to ask for piecemeal approvals.  Relevant has done this repeatedly with their applications for these hotels.  To begin with, fundraising brochures show clearly that Relevant intended to build both the Dream 1 and Dream 2 hotels, along with the restaurant Tao, as far back as 2014.  But instead of presenting the entire project for consideration, they started construction on the Dream 1, and then submitted an application for Tao along with a one-story retail building.  After beginning construction on that project, they came back with another application for a second hotel, the Dream 2, on the same site.  
 
In an insulting display of arrogance, Relevant submitted their application for the restaurant/retail project using an LLC named "6421 Selma Wilcox Hotel".  City Planning ignored the strange discrepancy and approved the restaurant/retail application.  Then with that project under construction, Relevant came back with another application, now asking for approval of an eight-story hotel.  Rather than calling out the developer's deception, the City Planning Commission okayed the hotel project.  The Commission had ample evidence to show that Relevant was seeking piecemeal approvals, and the Commission knows this is illegal.  But instead of doing their job, a majority of Commissioners voted to approve the project anyway.  
 
And this is bigger than just the Dream 1 and Dream 2.  Relevant is either the owner or a party-in-interest for all five of these hotels.  UN4LA believes it's clear that, by building a cluster of hotels around Selma and Wilcox, all of which offer restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and live entertainment, Relevant intends to create their own nightlife hub in a dense residential neighborhood.  And rather than looking at the cumulative effects this cluster of party hotels would have on area residents, the DCP has approved each project individually, blithely insisting that impacts from construction and operation will be negligible. 
 
UN4LA believes it's time to hold the Department of City Planning accountable for failing to protect citizens from dishonest developers like Relevant.  That's why we've filed this complaint.  We're asking law enforcement officials at the State and County level to investigate the series of approvals that the DCP has handed to Relevant, and to impose the maximum penalty possible on City Planning officials who have knowingly failed to execute their duties as prescribed by law.  

Research shows that alcohol density is linked to violent crime, and Hollywood's crime rate is already far higher than the citywide average.  The health harms related to alcohol are well-known.  And in spite of promises to the contrary, live entertainment on the rooftop of the Dream 1 has already been a disruption in the Hollywood community.  Based on Relevant’s past record, it's hard to give any credibility to the reassurances regarding noise mitigation measures for the other four party hotels currently in the pipeline.
 
(Casey Maddren is president of United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles and can be reached at
cmaddren@gmail.com or 323 462-7804)

-cw