After a nearly four-year process, a contract expenditure of $122,000 and myriad meetings of community members and city commissioners, city staff has recommended several relatively minor recommendations to provide incentives for multi-family historic resources. The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) supports the four recommendations but believes that a much more robust program could be initiated to bolster the city’s commitment to historic preservation while maintaining its supply of affordable housing.
Like the unanimous support voiced by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, the WHPA strongly supports the establishment of a “Historic Apartment Preservation Program” as outlined on Page 30 of the Page & Turnbull/Place Economics report (Attachment A in the council packet). The City of West Hollywood has the financial resources; for instance, it made a $7 million purchase of the one-acre of vacant land at Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Boulevard (ultimate usage still to be determined), and a $2.5 million purchase of the former Coast Playhouse across from City Hall.
The WHPA understands that funds received under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program could be used for historic preservation projects. However, the issue of providing “gifts of public funds” continues to muddy such potential usage. We urge the City Council to support the HAP in principle and to direct staff to continue exploring funding opportunities that will maintain our city’s historic infrastructure. It’s all about good planning here – planning that supports the cultural memory of the city as well as the residents who depend on affordable, well-maintained housing and those owners of historically designated properties who provide it.