Silver Lake church-to-hotel conversion gets Planning Department blessing

SILVER LAKE — A plan by Silver Lake business woman Dana Hollister to turn a now vacant church into a 25-room boutique hotel with a restaurant and rooftop garden was approved by a Planning Department official. But Hollister’s request to serve and sell a full line of alcohol – a potentially lucrative source of revenue – and allow for public dancing were denied.

The decision made public in a letter today will help move the Griffith Park Boulevard project forward, with its supporters saying it will provide much needed hotel rooms to Silver Lake while also preserving and reviving the  former Pilgrim Church, a 1931 Romanesque-style building on that looms over surrounding homes, apartments and businesses. But nearby residents waged an active campaign to oppose and scale back the hotel, which they said will worsen traffic congestion, deplete street parking and increase noise in the tightly packed neighborhood.

It appeared that Associate Zoning Administrator Jim Tokunaga was trying to shield residents from noise and congestion by denying the project’s request to sell and serve a full line of alcohol in the restaurant, bar and guest rooms. He also turned down a request to allow public dancing.

While the use of the site as a hotel “may be appropriate, “the sale of alcoholic beverages on the site”changes the nature of the hotel from a low key boutique hotel in a residential area into a destination hotel with special parties and entertainment,” Tokunaga said. Public dancing “could potential attract more members from the public exacerbating a lack of parking in the area not only for the potential customers for area residents.”

Tokunaga’s decision can still be appealed by Hollister or residents and is subject to further review by the city.


  1. A big part of the parking problem must be people using their garages for storage not parking cars there. I see lots of empty driveways and garages in this area.

    • Totally agree. Lots of unused garages. But where will their yoga sanctuary/decompression space/free form art overflow go??

      • That is sometimes an accurate observation. However, incorrect often at least as I have observed. Most of the usable ones are used on the block of Lucile where I live and some that I am amazed people can get their cars into. However, there are a great many residences in the neighborhood that have none at all, have garages that are in disrepair (and I would agree that the owners should be required to fix them up), or were built when cars were much smaller than they are now and therefore not usable.

        Please, snide comments really don’t help a civil discussion, and I’m sorry to see that you stooped to that, Moody. I’m very disappointed. And I would like to point out that more than a few of us argued for the ex-church to be converted at least in part into yoga, dance, and art space. If Ms. Hollister had decided to do something more civic minded like that, it would help with your concerns. I suggest you contact her and help make that argument. That would be a much more positive step in my opinion.

  2. Excited for this!

  3. I like the idea of Hollister using the nearby compound she lives at for parking for her hotel. There is plenty of space and if it was all serviced by a valet service it wouldn’t necessarily even be noticed by either the neighbors near the hotel or near Hollister’s compound.

  4. Poor Dana and Fast Eddie. Well, maybe Steve Edelson will come in now and buy the property from the Presbytery of the Pacific? That way he can develop this into Los Globos of West Silver Lake? Oh wait, you need approval to serve alcohol… shoot, what to do, what to do?

  5. I imagine they will eventually get the liquor license.

    This parking/congestion uproar is such a charade. This is the type regulation that is bad for the community as a whole. What an antiquated way to go about regulating businesses.

    This type of regulation artificially drives up the cost of property in the area, squeezing out those without bigtime $$$. It’s been happening in SF for a decade or so now.

    What the nimby’s don’t understand is that the business will find a way to supply parking if parking is not readily available. They have to in order to have a successful business.

    We also need to get past the concept that everyone in LA owns a car, take a look at the stats, car buying and miles driven are flat….NOT INCREASING. Additionally, you who own homes and rent that do not have a parking spot on site are not entitled to a free public parking spot anymore than a patron of a local business.

    Let’s keep denying valid business licenses to those who will bring much needed revenue to our city, smartttttt….

    • SO with you!!!

    • I assure you that parking and congestion is no charade. If you lived here or worked here you would know that. These types of regulations were put in place to help make communities work and in this case I think that is exactly what happened. (By the way, where do you live and work? I am a close neighbor to the ex-church.)

      It’s interesting that you attempt the argument (without anything to back it up that I can see) that these regulations drive up the cost of property. The developer made the argument that her development would increase (aka drive up) the value of property. Perhaps you and she should discuss this since certainly both of you can not be correct.

      And as to those who are not wealthy being squeezed out, just the contrary is what we neighbors of the ex-church, those would be squeezed out if your assertion were true, argue would happen if the development went forward. We are quite sure that those of us with very modest means which is true of everyone I know in the immediate neighborhood of the property are much more likely to be able to afford to stay in our homes with the city’s decision. We would be even more likely if the buildings were to become a church again rather than a hotel.

      I wish the folks moderating these conversations would indeed do something about the insults including this post. Clearly, the writer does not have a leg to stand on if he/she needs to resort to these tactics. Insults do nothing to encourage civil debate and discussion.

      To another of your points, I never heard anyone say that we residents have more of a right to a parking space than others. At least I can assure you that I have never said that. What I heard stated over and over wast that there is not enough parking now and that this project will only make that problem worse. Please, check your facts. Interestingly enough, it seems that only attempt to reserve parking for the residents has been a failed attempted to implement residential permit parking. It seems that not nearly enough of us support it to gather enough signatures, I being among those who did not sign. So, we neighbors on average at least seem to totally agree with you. Again it would be much more helpful if you would check your facts before writing things that are so incorrect.

      • I live within walking distance of the church. I walk by it at least a couple times per week. I’ve lived in the area for over 10 years now. I’m extensively familiar with the surrounding area, so I’m not sure why you assume I am not based on my post.

        Also, I have no idea what inaccuracies and insults you claim that I have made…

        Perhaps you misinterpreted my anti development regulation comment. Yes, the addition of a vibrant hotel with an appealing nightlife scene would likely improve property values for nearby homeowners. This type of business will attract more business and a desirable audience to the neighborhood. That does not make my anti development regulation comment incorrect.

        Bullshit anti development regulation and policy like we have here is pure protectionism. It’s meant to protect existing business owners who are too lazy to compete for customers. This means homeowners, and consumers get the shaft while the government props up existing businesses that don’t want to try hard to win your business.

        I was saying this is the same type of anti development mentality that restricts companies from building and providing affordable housing that the market is demanding. Have you seen LA rents lately? Have you seen what’s happening with home prices.

        This type of policy is destructive to those in los angeles that want to make it their home, build a family, and buy in by purchasing property.

        …parking… lol

  6. What is Jim Tokunaga smoking? He’s worried that because of drinks and dancing….those folks who want to drink and dance will take a parking spot from someone who….wants to buy shoes at undefeated? Let’s get this straight, a destination hotel that brings people into the neighborhood…..is bad for neighboring businesses?

    I am going to go out on a limb here guys, I’m guessing surrounding businesses would do anything for a destination hotel that constantly brings more potential customers walking by their storefronts,

    it’ll be great when the city gets planners that don’t operate on antiquated planning principles.

    • I think based on the documentation that Mr. Tokunaga sent out, he was very attentive to all parties and to the law. That he has done excellent work on this. I’m know insulting him is not warranted and I’m sure it will not help your cause, whatever it is. I also think you misinterpreted or misunderstand the parking issues. Perhaps if you lived here you would get a better idea. BTW, where do you live? Also, I’m not sure I understand why you feel the only issue is with respect to other businesses, but I assure they are only a fraction of the justified concerns over the proposal.

    • Sounds like the parents in the movie Foot Loose they did not want alcohol or dancing as it might lead to Gawd knows what.

  7. She still got partially what she wanted and now we will have a boutique hotel in the center of SL. Sweet!!

    • But it might not pencil out for her if she can’t have alcohol and night club revenue…….

      • As a resident who lives in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development I’m very pleased with Tokunaga’s decision.

        Like the majority of my neighbors, I’m not really surprised that Hollister’s emphasis on alcohol-fueled event revenues fell flat when finally made to face the realities of community disapproval and misalignment with the commercial and neighborhood land use policies promoted under the City’s General Plan.

        No one should feel bad for the developer. Throughout the process she relied exclusively on encouragement and support from personal and political friends, employees and paid consultants, and in the end this just insulted her from the voices that really mattered – the people who actually live in the neighborhood.

        Whatever happens next, Tokunaga’s decision sets a great precedent for the importance of sincere community engagement, and has re-affirmed my faith in the civic process.

        • Thank you for taking the time to write this thoughtful comment. There is a recent vocal faction in Silver Lake that is very focussed on personal financial gain via a transient/locust economy, e.g., alcohol sales, short term rentals, at the greater expense of the majority of residents interested in community and neighborhoods. They would rather destroy our communities, ply outsiders with drinks, and personally profit from the mythos of Silver Lake than actually make it a better place to live. I’ll take ethics, civility, civic engagement any day.


    • It’s 150 feet from Sunset Blvd and shares the block with nothing but businesses. It’s only the people who live in this commercial pocket, stupidly expecting it would never change from it’s current state, that are opposed.

      • Well, that’s totally untrue. I don’t live in that pocket and I totally oppose the project. But I’m glad for at least this partial victory. Also, there are people who live on the blocks on both sides of the street. You might want to get your facts straight so you can really understand the point of view of those so directly impacted. And accusing us of being stupid is extremely rude and inaccurate. I’d say it applies more to one who spouts off without knowing the facts.

        • I meant to type on both sides of the church (rather than street) on both Lucile and Griffith Park.

        • There are people that live on the corner of sunset and vine. There are people that live on the corner of sixth and main downtown. What exactly is your argument?

    • Your caps lock key appears to be malfunctioning.

  9. All right, now we can have what we really really want in that space, a Dollar Tree retail outlet, with maybe a nice swaps meet every weekend. Thank you Bert and Ernie you are the best you saved the neighborhood.

  10. As someone who is a Joni Mitchell fan, I’m sorry to say the solution is for someone to OPEN UP A PARKING LOT. I’m a local and rarely go to the Junction b/c I can never find a parking spot for a quick jaunt (yes, I know where to find parking spots for longer durations).

  11. What hotel does not have a liquor license? Maybe 5 locations for serving was a stretch but the parking was taken care of and if you use the logic of no alcohol here then what about neighboring restaurants with no parking? Something else was a play here.

    • exactly. it’s protectionist, government interference. Jim Tokunaga is the face of ugly government business in this case. i hope someone stands up for what’s right.

      • It sounds like Jim Tokunaga has done alot more work gathering input and opinions from people who will actually have to live next to this thing than you ever will. Just because you believe that there should be a hotel and wet bar on every residential block in Silver Lake doesn’t mean the majority of residents agree with you.

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