Sofitel hotel drops plan to seek helipad permit

The Sofitel hotel, which drew the ire of area residents last year when it illegally allowed private helicopters to touch down on its rooftop landing pad, will not seek a temporary permit to allow non-emergency flights, the hotel manager said Tuesday night.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, who initially supported the granting of the temporary state permit, said in a statement Tuesday that he had changed his mind after meeting with neighbors and aviation consultants.

“I concluded that the community is not ready to support even a trial period and I believe that we should respect the community’s wishes,” said Koretz, who said he had “strongly urged” the Beverly Boulevard hotel not to seek the permit.

Last Friday, state Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky sent a letter to the California Department of Transportation, which issues permits for helipads, warning that allowing non-emergency flights at the Sofitel could set a bad precedent.

Since the 1970s, all Los Angeles buildings over 75 feet high have been required to have emergency helicopter landing pads.


Last year the Sofitel allowed at least one person to use the pad for non-emergencies — Hollywood producer Ryan Kavanaugh, whose company, Relativity Media, is headquartered nearby.

Residents in the West Hollywood neighborhood just north of the hotel complained to officials. In December, an aviation safety officer from Caltrans sent a letter to hotel management ordering that any illegal helicopter activity cease immediately.

It did cease. But earlier this year, the hotel announced that it planned to apply for a temporary helistop permit, which would allow for non-emergency landings and takeoffs. A letter sent to residents by a consultant for the hotel said that hours and flights would be limited and that flight paths would skirt their neighborhood.

No official application was submitted, but news of the hotel’s plans generated a new wave of protest.