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WeHo hotel agrees not to pursue chopper request

April 6, 2011 12:00:05 AM PDT
Helicopters are common sights in the skies over Southern California, but most people don't have to deal with them landing in their neighborhood on a daily basis. Some homeowners in West Hollywood feared that could become a very noisy reality.

The residents who live in one West Hollywood neighborhood describe it as an oasis of solitude - until last fall when a new visitor started to quite literally drop in.

"Our entire house shook. It was loud, and it's frightening," said Lorelei Shark of West Hollywood.

Lauren Meister, president of the West Hollywood West Residents Association, says the ruckus was coming from a helicopter flown by Hollywood producer Ryan Kavanaugh, who had begun making frequent landings atop the Sofitel Hotel.

Like most buildings in the city of Los Angeles that are over 75 feet tall, the Sofitel is required to have an emergency helipad on its roof. But the landings, the residents say, were no emergencies.

"Apparently this is just becoming a convenient place for this gentleman to land all day and night. If he's not happy with the traffic here, then maybe he shouldn't be coming in from Malibu," said Robert Cherno of the Beverly Wilshire Homes Association.

Kavanaugh and the Sofitel ended the landings when Caltrans and the FAA received complaints. But the residents say the hotel wanted FAA permission for non-emergency use of the helipad, something L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz had endorsed on a temporary basis.

"If we wanted to be living by an airport, we would live by LAX," Meister said.

Koretz said in a statement on Tuesday that because "the community is not ready to support even a trial period," he has urged the hotel not to proceed with its request.

"The hotel has agreed not to pursue approval of this service."