Over a decade in the making, the City of West Hollywood is finally proposing the new changes to codes and zoning that will greatly improve the process for opening and operating a business in West Hollywood.
The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has been advocating for these amendments for years. Our work on The Small Business Initiative was used as a tool to help provide input and collaborate with the City’s Economic Development Department (EDD) on what would be helpful for new businesses to open such as parking requirements, as well as the process and fees related to special event permit applications.
Excerpt from the City staff report:
At its April 17, 2017 meeting, City Council directed staff to initiate an analysis of the feasibility of reducing commercial off-street parking requirements. Parking is an ongoing concern for businesses in West Hollywood. The results of the Small Business Survey and discussions with commercial real estate brokers confirmed that reducing parking requirements for businesses is one policy that the City can change to benefit business owners. Current parking requirements can make it very difficult to open or operate a business in a built-out environment like West Hollywood due to the lack of available parking options and associated costs of leasing off-site commercial parking. These requirements also make it challenging to change land uses for existing properties resulting in properties remaining vacant longer than desired.
The proposed amendment would right-size the existing base parking requirements to align with the specific development pattern and transportation network of West Hollywood and the types and size of businesses that locate in the City. The proposed amendments account for changes in the City’s land use and transportation patterns and reflect the evolving local and regional economy. Additionally, the amendments are informed by a number of recent studies conducted in West Hollywood, including a study of parking utilization by business type, analysis of the City’s on-street parking utilization, analysis of parking credit district data, and discussions with parking garage and valet operators. These amendments will remove the undue burden that requires businesses to provide excessive, yet underutilized off-street parking.
Proposed changes to parking tables per 1000 square feet (current requirements vs proposed) are as follows:
- Retail | 3 ½ to 2
- Fitness | 10 to 3 ½
- Hotel | 1 to .5
- Restaurant | 9 to 3 ½
- Office | 3 ½ to 2
- Nightclub | 15 to 5
Second, the proposed amendments update the change in use provisions to allow a change in use from one commercial use to another commercial use within an existing building or tenant space that is 6,000 square feet or less without requiring additional parking. This amendment is particularly important in a compact, built-out city such as West Hollywood, where land is at a premium and off-street parking not tied to an existing business is very limited.
SPECIAL EVENT PERMITTING PROCESS
Following the April 2017 Council approval of the updated Special Event permitting policies, City staff began an implementation and testing period. Some highlights of the Special Event Permit process include allowing businesses to hold a sidewalk sale, host a wine and cheese reception at an art gallery opening, have a restaurant buyout event, extended operating hours and/or a temporary Valet when nothing else in a business’ routine operation is changing and other minor events will no longer require a special event permit.
Certain activities which are components of an event such as an Encroachment Permit or Temporary Valet Permit may require specific permits- but, they no longer require a Special Event permit, reducing the costs and application requirements to the business.
Other creative changes include establishing a standard baseline for event duration that is flexible, adding an allowance for temporary low impact activations that do not require Special Event Permits, using impact as the key determinant for the extent of regulation and incorporating Director-level authority to be flexible based on impact and responsible event management.
In the 12 months since the inception of the pilot program, The Event and Film Division has reduced the number of required Special Event Permits issued by about 30%.
The next steps will be to codify these Special Event Policy improvements in the Municipal Code and amend the ZTA for proposed parking reduction through a series of hearings with policy makers. We need your voice at these hearings. Businesses should join the Chamber, come out and speak in support for both items.
THESE ARE VITALLY IMPORTANT ISSUES THAT EFFECTS YOUR BUSINESS – WE NEED YOUR VOICE TO BE HEARD!
Planning Commission - October 4th
City Council - November 5th
City Council Chambers
625 San Vicente Blvd.