Preservation or affordability on Sunset?

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Curbed LA has a story today about the possibility that the city will deem the Hollywood Reporter building on Sunset a Historic Cultural Monument and thereby prevent a developer from moving forward with plans to build ~300 hotel rooms, ~190 condos and and ~700 apartments on the site.

I appreciate interesting architecture. But I think the time has come to make the trade-offs inherent in preservation explicit.

We are living through a full-blown housing affordability crisis. We’re not even building enough units to keep pace with population growth, let alone put a dent in existing rents.

With respect to my fellow smaller-scale developers, absent some major changes to the zoning laws and building codes, we’re not the ones who are going to solve this crisis. It’s simply not possible to add thousands of units 4-8 units at a time.

The solution, like it or not, is large complexes, where one developer can add hundreds or thousands of units of housing in one shot.

Currently, the only places the zoning allows for these huge complexes is along commercial streets like Sunset.

In this case, we have an obviously obsolete office building (it’s been vacant for years!) taking up land that could be used to add materially to the city’s housing supply.

We need to ask ourselves what’s more important: The aesthetic sense of the preservationists among us, or the ability of working and middle class people to continue to live in our city?

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