Los Angeles and Beverly Hills are gearing up for what looks like a super passive-aggressive battle that's nominally over a possibly historic multifamily apartment building that's got one foot in LA and another in Bev Hills, but is really about the mutual hatred shared by two neighboring cities (maybe!). Owners of the property containing 332-336 N. Oakhurst Dr. want to tear down apartment buildings on the site and put up 37 condos, says the Beverly Hills Courier. This is where the story gets shaaaaady. So much shadiness it all has to be in list form:
· Beverly Hills has put forth "intense efforts" to preserve the buildings, which might be historic and are located in an area that could theoretically be a historic district, possibly even on the National Register of Historic Places, according to information garnered through BH's Historic Resources Survey conducted last year.
· The buildings' "vulnerable tenants" are also a concern, as they are likely limited in their housing options should their homes disappear, and probably can't afford to buy one of the condos planned to go up on the site.
· They're also vulnerable because the property owner seems awful. A filing with LA's Department of Planning from April 2014 charges that the owner was intimidating tenants, not offering money for relocation, and violating the Ellis Act, which is the state law that lets landlords kick out tenants when they're converting their properties. The kicker: last month, the property owner boarded up the buildings with people still living inside.
· LA was supposed to be waiting to make its decision until BH figured out what to do about the project, but now suddenly, "the Los Angeles Planning Department has determined that the developers can go through with the project."
· This totally blindsided Beverly Hills officials. According to Bev Hills' interim city manager, "The last information we had from [Los Angeles'] staff before receiving this decision was that the application was on hold at the request of the project's developer pending discussion with our Planning staff on how to address the concerns Beverly Hills raised on the environmental assessment." Sneaky!
· LA did make conditions on its approval that the developer get the green light from Bev Hills before they begin to build, "So until the Beverly Hills Planning Commission approves something on the Beverly Hills portion, there isn't a lot the developer can do," says BH's senior planner, adding that BH won't be handing out demo permits until the project gets approval from Beverly Hills's own Planning Commission. So essentially, LA's move didn't really do anything except kind of shift this mess off their plate and piss off Bev Hills in the process.
· And pissed they are! The Beverly Hills Courier sees this whole thing for what it really is: "the City of Los Angeles is exercising its will over the citizens of Beverly Hills – much as in the days when Beverly Hills opted not to be annexed by L.A. during the water battles early last century. One might think, 'Here we go again,' but this time its not water they want. Its [sic] Beverly Hills – a City with a reputation so valuable that nearby neighborhoods call themselves, 'Beverly Hills – adjacent,' to gain cache[t]." Yup, LA's coming for you, BH. One historic building at a time.
Beverly Hills's Planning Department is now scrambling to figure out how to respond. The BH City Council could appeal the decision, and have just called a special meeting for tonight to vote on the matter.
· Beverly Hills News – City Seeks Council Meeting to Appeal to LA Planning for Building in Both Cities [BC]
· Being Poor in Beverly Hills, the Most Unequal City in California [Curbed LA]