AREA  DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

WE ARE MONITORING THE FOLLOWING PENDING PROJECTS IN THE AREA.  Each one is in a different stage of the entitlement process before the City.  WSSM will monitor these projects, submit comments during the environmental review process and will challenge those projects deemed to have a negative impact on our community that cannot be mitigated.  We are particularly concerned about the impacts that new development projects will have on the City's already over-taxed infrastructure and, in particularly on our streets and the flow of traffic. 

CASDEN PICO-SEPULVEDA/CEMENT FACTORY PROJECT: 


CASDEN PROJECT FEIR ISSUED NOVEMBER 2012.

LA CITY PLANNING DEPT. held hearing on Casden project Dec. 5th.  Written comments may be submitted for two weeks until Dec. 19th.  See Breaking News page of this website for info on where to send your letters!

 

JMB Realty announces plans to develop a 37-story office building with over 730,000 square feet at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars while scrapping plans to develop luxury condos there.   The developer received earlier approvals from the City to build two high rise and one 12-story loft condo building at the site of the former City National Bank and Constellation Club (formerly Sr. Pico to long-time residents).  With the changes in the real estate marketplace, JMB has unveiled drawings of a high rise office building instead.  The City's scoping meeting took place on July 13th .  The public had opportunities to  submit scoping comments that address the issues that should be studied by land use and traffic consultants as part of the project's draft environmental impact report documents. 

WSSM will not take a formal position on the project until the DEIR has been reviewed.  We have concerns about the added traffic and congestion that a building of this size will bring to the area.  We want to see  if and where the building exceeds what would be allowed under the Century City North Specific Plan.

The project location is 1950 Avenue of the Stars and is identified in City records as:  ENV 2004-6269-EIR-SUP1.  "Century City Center" project. You can read the project description as posted in the scoping notice at:

http://cityplanning.lacity.org/eir/nops/ENV-2004-6269-EIR.pdf

KEEP IN MIND THAT NEW DENSITY IN CENTURY CITY AFFECTS THE LOCAL TRAFFIC AND CITY INFRASTRUCTURE AS NEW DEMANDS ARE MADE ON OUR STREETS AND CITY SERVICES. 

A consortium of concerned businesses, landlords, residents and community organizations has joined together under the banner of "Save the Westside."  to raise concerns about the proposed JMB project.  You may be seeing lawn signs and may receive mailings from this group.  

WSSM hopes that all comments and concerns directed to the City in response to the JMB DEIR are considered by the applicant and the City.  Sadly, it has been WSSM's experience, that developers tend to ignore our concerns and, instead, plow ahead with their plans without seriously addressing our questions and concerns.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AREA  DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

WE ARE MONITORING THE FOLLOWING PENDING PROJECTS IN THE AREA.  Each one is in a different stage of the entitlement process before the City.  WSSM will monitor these projects, submit comments during the environmental review process and will challenge those projects deemed to have a negative impact on our community that cannot be mitigated.  We are particularly concerned about the impacts that new development projects will have on the City's already over-taxed infrastructure and, in particularly on our streets and the flow of traffic. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

10000 SANTA MONICA BLVD:

Miami-based developer Crescent Heights released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for their proposed residential project to be located on the eastern border of Century City where it joins Beverly Hills.  

Crescent Heights is finalizing their plans with the City for the construction of a building of up to 39 stories consisting of 283 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units ranging from 1600 to 2000 square feet in size, with an average price of $ 1.5 million.  The $184-million project  consists of a proposed 486,000-square-foot building that would rise 36 to 39 stories and could take six years to plan and construct according to a recent LA Times article.

The project's January 25th hearing was attended by numerous community representatives who supported the project as it is ALL residential and does not include commercial, office or retail uses.  In addition, the project will be built with energy efficient technology incorporated into all elements and is proposed to be one of the first projects in Los Angeles to build and operate a fully automated garage for tenants and guests.  Automated garages require less land, less digging/hauling of dirt and reduce air pollution and our carbon footprint by removing the need to drive around in a parking structure looking for a parking. 

While we continue to mourn the loss of the old WELTON BECKETT -designed headquarters building that was demolished by a former owner of the property illegally and without permits, the Crescent Heights project will bring a strong architectural statement to the eastern "entrance" to Century City.  The developer, Crescent Heights reached out to the community throughout the environmental review process in order to obtain community input and, as a result, at the time of the January 25th  hearing, none of the neighboring associations, including WSSM, spoke in opposition to the project.  We appreciate the effort made by Crescent Heights to come to our Board before plans were final and, as is so often the case, before this project was a "done deal."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CENTURY PLAZA HOTEL

New plan for Century Plaza hotel adds two 46-story towers

The $1.5-billion project by owner Michael Rosenfeld, who had originally planned to raze the Space Age hotel in Century City, would be one of the largest real estate developments on the Westside in decades.



LA TIMES - August 11, 2010|Roger Vincent and Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times

After backing down from a contentious proposal to demolish the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel, the owner has unveiled plans to construct a high-rise real estate development next to the Space Age landmark that would transform the tenor of Century City's streets and dramatically alter the skyline.

The $1.5-billion proposal calls for two 46-story skyscrapers holding hundreds of condominiums and offices to be built behind the renowned hotel on Avenue of the Stars. Nearly half of the guest rooms would be replaced by luxury condos as part of a top-to-bottom makeover.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

JMB Realty announces plans to develop a 37-story office building with over 730,000 square feet at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars while scrapping plans to develop luxury condos there.   The developer received earlier approvals from the City to build two high rise and one 12-story loft condo building at the site of the former City National Bank and Constellation Club (formerly Sr. Pico to long-time residents).  With the changes in the real estate marketplace, JMB has unveiled drawings of a high rise office building instead.  The City's scoping meeting took place on July 13th .  The public had opportunities to  submit scoping comments that address the issues that should be studied by land use and traffic consultants as part of the project's draft environmental impact report documents. 

WSSM will not take a formal position on the project until the DEIR has been reviewed.  We have concerns about the added traffic and congestion that a building of this size will bring to the area.  We want to see  if and where the building exceeds what would be allowed under the Century City North Specific Plan.

The project location is 1950 Avenue of the Stars and is identified in City records as:  ENV 2004-6269-EIR-SUP1.  "Century City Center" project. You can read the project description as posted in the scoping notice at:

http://cityplanning.lacity.org/eir/nops/ENV-2004-6269-EIR.pdf

KEEP IN MIND THAT NEW DENSITY IN CENTURY CITY AFFECTS THE LOCAL TRAFFIC AND CITY INFRASTRUCTURE AS NEW DEMANDS ARE MADE ON OUR STREETS AND CITY SERVICES. 

A consortium of concerned businesses, landlords, residents and community organizations has joined together under the banner of "Save the Westside."  to raise concerns about the proposed JMB project.  You may be seeing lawn signs and may receive mailings from this group.  

WSSM hopes that all comments and concerns directed to the City in response to the JMB DEIR are considered by the applicant and the City.  Sadly, it has been WSSM's experience, that developers tend to ignore our concerns and, instead, plow ahead with their plans without seriously addressing our questions and concerns.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LA CITY PLANNING DEPT. PROPOSING CHANGES

There are a number of major planning initiatives underway that will help to shape how our community and our city will look in the future.  Citizen input is important in the review of these initiatives.  WSSM plays a role in commenting on these plans whenever possible.  We invite you to attend city briefing meetings and learn more.  You may wish to comment as an individual  (in writing and/or at upcoming public hearings) and/or you are welcome to help our HOA to formulate our comments and responses to the city.  There are quite a number of plans moving forward, some prompted by a desire of the city to streamline its processes due to staff changes, some as a result of policy changes.  When adopted, these will impact the quality of life in the community.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Community Care Facilities/Sober Living Homes:  WSSM has been a strong supporter of the City’s new proposed ordinance to regulate businesses that operate for profit boarding houses, such as sober living facilities, parolee homes and licensed community care facilities, in order to maintain the quality of the City’s neighborhoods, while balancing the needs of the disabled.  While such facilities can play an important role in the recovery of those in need, their unregulated operation in single family zoned areas has created unacceptable (and sometimes nightmarish) conditions for neighboring properties.  Imagine living next door to a home where individual beds are leased out, with 20 or more residents who may need to park on the street, who gather outside to smoke, etc.  The new ordinance will outlaw the operation of boarding houses in single family zones.  We and other HOA’s have suggested ways to strengthen and improve the proposal which will require that those in a group living situation do so as a family type unit under a single lease agreement.  The ordinance passed the City Council’s  PLUM Committee (Land Use) on April 5th and will move before the full council shortly. 

For more information on the issue, visit the website for the LA Coalition for Neighborhoods who is leading the community effort:  www.LACoalition4Neighborhoods.org.  If you are aware of any sober living homes operating in our area and/or have related issues to report, please contact us:  wssmhoa@gmail.com.

MAY 2012 update:  ALL THOSE CONCERNED ABOUT COMMUNITY CARE FACILITIES LOCATING IN R-1 RESIDENTIAL AREAS SHOULD WRITE TO THEIR CITY COUNCIL MEMBER AND COPY ALL THE COUNCILMEMBERS TO URGE ADOPTION OF THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE incorporating the Sept. 2011 recommendations of the City ATtorney's office.  We do not support the options presented by the Planning Dept. in their March 2012 report.  


NOVEMBER 2012 update:  Because of the press attention given to four recent murders at a BOARDING HOUSE in operation in an R-1 residential property in the San Fernando Valley, the Council has realized that there are problems at these homes that need to be addressed.  At the location of the murders, it was discovered that there were 17 or 18 residents living in the home, in makeshift shelters in the back yard and/or in the garage.  The entire property was in disrepair, was filthy, and to access one bedroom it was necessary to enter through the window.  (The County specifies that each bedroom in a home must have a window; however, while it is implied that it must have a door, the property owner felt that it was only necessary to have a window.  Operators of some boarding houses, sober living homes and other group living situations often divide up existing rooms into smaller rooms so that they can rent out "private" rooms as opposed to shared ones. 

THE ORDINANCE WILL BE HEARD IN THE COUNCIL'S PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE ON MONDAY, DEC. 10, 9 am in City Council Chambers, City Hall.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


BUNDY VILLAGE: 

WSSM was part of a group of homeowners associations that opposed the BUNDY VILLAGE project as presented to the City.  It was never quite clear as to whether the developer's intentions were to build medical office facilities or whether his true intention was to construct hospital facilities.  At the time that the CityPlanning Dept. hearings were to have been held, the developer requested additional time.  At the same time we learned that he was reported to be having challenges with project financing. 

Before the additional traffic data that we requested was received that would have  included impacts on our area, the project was halted due to financing issues.  Widespread community input was an important factor in halting the approval process on this project.  We were committed to seeking significant downsizing of this project. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit the website at:

www.stopbundyvillage.com

BUNDY VILLAGE revisited:

New  owners have taken over the Bundy Village property and are developing their plans for a new proposal to the City.  In the same area, we have learned that the owners of MARTIN CADILLAC are planning a mixed use project for their land which is adjacent to the Bundy Village property. 

WEST LA and SANTA MONICA community leaders are all very concerned about the dangers of over-development in this area, particularly with the difficulties currently experienced with traffic in this area.  The notion that building large projects directly adjacent to transit will somehow alleviate the additional trips associated with these projects is not something readily accepted.  While some residents and / or employees of these projects will live use public transit, not all will do so.  We cannot pretend that building a project adjacent to transit will alleviate the traffic gridlock in the area.  Proximity to transit should not be used as a rationale for overbuilding!!!


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CASDEN PICO-SEPULVEDA/CEMENT FACTORY PROJECT: 


CASDEN PROJECT FEIR ISSUED NOVEMBER 2012.

LA CITY PLANNING DEPT. held hearing on Casden Project DEC. 5th.  Comments may be submitted for two weeks until Dec. 19th.  See Breaking News page of this website for info on where to send your letters!

The DEIR for the proposed CASDEN project was released and WSSM submitted written comments June 2011.  WSSM consulted with a professional traffic engineer and land use attorney as part of our review process.  (This is a good example of how the Board uses WSSM funds to identify potential impacts of newly proposed projects on our area and to seek mitigations when impacts are identified.)


At our WSSM June 5th Board meeting, we heard a special presentation on the proposed CASDEN project on the site of the former cement plant between Pico/Exposition and Sepulveda/ Sawtelle Blvds.   Casden proposes to build over 540 apartments, a 100,000 square foot Target Store and 50,000 square foot supermarket at that location across Exposition Blvd. from the post office.  The traffic impacts identified in their Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) show that of the 54 intersections analyzed, 27 will experience significant impacts.  Even after all available measures are implemented, 22 or the 27 intersections will still have unmitigated and unavoidable significant traffic impacts which could make our streets impassable and may send more cut-through traffic onto our residential streets.


Those attending our meeting conveyed serious concerns to the project representatives and urged that the project be reconsidered and downsized.  Comments relating to the preservation  of the current land use zone were also made so that the site can be used to attract and provide good jobs that need to be located on the light manufacturing zoned land.  The proposed project seeks to change the zone from light manufacturing to commercial so that retailing and residential uses can be placed there.  


Since the time of the presentation by Casden to our Board, we understand that there have been proposals to reduce some of the retailing in exchange for more apartment units and a possible added height to the residential portions of the property.  We await the final EIR and expect to oppose the project as presented or as amended. 

 

The DEIR is posted on the City’s Planning Dept website and can be found at:  http://cityplanning.lacity.org/eir/CasdenSepulveda/DEIR/DEIR%20Casden%20Sepulveda%20Project.html


                                      -------------------

WSSM submitted the following letter to the City as part of the scoping process that was written to give direction to CAsden and the City in terms of the areas that they should study in the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) being done on the project:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Westwood South of Santa Monica Blvd

Homeowner’s Association

Incorporated November 8, 1971

P. O. Box 64213

Los Angeles, CA  90064-0213

July 10, 2009

 

David Somers

Environmental Review Section

Department of City Planning

200 North Spring Street, Room 750

Los Angeles, CA  90012                    VIA EMAIL:  David.Somers@lacity.org

 

Dear Mr. Somers:

This letter is written on behalf of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Blvd. Homeowners Association representing over 3800 single family and condominium homeowners in the area bounded by Santa Monica and Pico Boulevards on the north and south, and by Beverly Glen and Sepulveda Boulevards on the east and west.  A number of our members attended the June 25th scoping meeting and workshop, have reviewed the Notice of Preparation and are very familiar with the project site.  We would like to request that the City take whatever steps are necessary to halt the review of this project until the West Los Angeles Community Plan has been completed.

We appreciate having the opportunity to comment as we have strong concerns about the nature of the proposed project, its proposed zone change, the loss of valuable M2 property, the appropriateness of this type of project in the identified location, the numerous negative impacts such a project will have on the traffic, “livability,” and quality of life in the area.  Additionally, we are convinced that alternative uses for this land, in conformity with the current zoning, should be evaluated as preferred project alternatives.  The placement of a transit center at the site in conjunction with other uses is one that deserves most serious consideration.  This property is uniquely situated to address a number of regional traffic needs and should be included in planning for the region’s short and long-term needs.  Sadly, rather than contribute to solving some of our transportation problems, this project will only add to them by creating new sources of trips and peak hour trips at a location already bottlenecked with traffic seeking to access the freeway or merely get across town – in all directions.  We would like our concerns to be fully addressed in the EIR documents for this project.

One of the most important aspects of the DEIR COULD BE the evaluation of project alternatives.  All too often we receive DEIR’s where the project alternatives selected explore options of interest to no one… and that clearly would never have a chance of being implemented.  This makes a mockery of the entire process.  We need detailed and honest examinations of alternatives and request that the process to define the project alternatives be based upon ideas suggested in our scoping letter and other similar correspondence from those in the community and that they be monitored throughout the DEIR drafting process to make certain that the alternatives are, indeed, workable plans that address the concerns raised during the scoping process. 

We recommend that a minimum of 5 alternatives be evaluated including:

1)      the proposed project.  Please include an analysis of the impacts of the loss of M2 property to the community and to the city.

2)      a similar project of significantly reduced density (both commercial and residential)

3)      a “no project” alternative (perhaps worthy of further discussion and definition since the cement plant is no longer planned to be operated there).  The “no project” alternative should also explore the possible sale of the land to a transit-related agency or a different property owner with interests in developing a public-private partnership to implement a project with the transit center alternative (see #5 below). 

4)      an alternative that fully complies with the current zoning status.  We would like to see a discussion of all possible uses under the current zone status which suggests a different mix of uses for this property.

5)      an alternative that complies with the current zoning status and that incorporates as part of the project a transit center concept and related transit center uses (institutional use).  This alternative should be explored from many points of view:  private, public / private partnership, etc.  Examination of potential sources of outside funding, govern-ment funding, multi-modal transportation funding, etc. should be explored.  Possible partnerships with relevant transit or governmental agencies should also be examined.  (Further discussion of the transit center is offered later in this letter.)

All project alternatives should anticipate a smaller, less dense project regardless of the eventual zone designation. 

Project Characteristics:  The scale, height, density and scope of this project are entirely out of scale with the area in which it would be located.  Impacts on adjacent residential neighborhoods, commercial concerns and nearby light industrial / manufacturing concerns would be permanent and impossible to mitigate.   No buildings in the area currently exceed four stories in height.  A 10-story project is truly out of scale.

The property in question, zoned M2, comprises a significant portion of our area’s M2-zoned land.  The community’s desire to protect such land has been raised in many venues over recent years.  It was the topic of Westside Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee discussion years ago.  Its preservation has been a key goal of those working to prepare the new West Los Angeles Community Plan.  Representatives of our organization have challenged previous attempts to locate “non-M” businesses in the area adjacent to the 405 freeway and appeared at Planning Dept. hearings to challenge efforts, for example, to establish a restaurant/bar business on Cotner Avenue not far from the proposed project site.  I should note that we were successful in that challenge. 

No changes in zoning should be contemplated before the WLA Community Plan is complete.  Any efforts to do so undermine that important effort and risk irreparably damaging the vision we have for our community.  In our recent comments to the Planning Dept. in response to the WLA Community Plan’s Notice of Preparation, we recommend exploration of the establishment of a “MOD” – a manufacturing-oriented district for the area.  This property could and should be the anchor for such a community plan area. 

The possibilities for an M development will foster higher paying jobs and provide certain types of businesses a place to locate and remain near to their West Los Angeles clients.  M-zoned land is in very limited supply.  We are unclear as to the rationale for requesting a re-zoning of the remainder of the block to C2-1 (with the project portion seeking Community Commercial status).  Why is this request being made when there are already structures present (Public Storage facility and the Los Angeles County Social Services building) and in operation.  What is the impact of their becoming legal, non-conforming uses?  Is it anticipated that either or both of these uses would be relocated in favor of a different use?

The establishment of freeway-adjacent housing is of grave concern for the negative health impacts such proximity can have.  Respiratory illness in both the young and old is a significant cause of disability and disease.  Rising rates of asthma, bronchial disease, and certain cancers are all indicators of the impacts of environmental exposures (in addition to whatever genetic susceptibilities may exist).  While we are not yet at the point in science where large populations may avail themselves of genetic engineering in order to reduce disease susceptibility, preventive measures such as locating housing and schools away from direct particulate and air pollution sources is possible.  The project DEIR should address this issue and provide any rationale for why LA City policy that discourages such placement of housing should not be followed. 

Housing is incompatible for the zone that exists on this property.  Even if the property were zoned for residential uses, and the location was not “freeway close,”  there remain other significant issues of concern having to do with the density of development/number of units, lack of infrastructure to support such density, open space needs, affordable housing allocations, senior housing needs, on-site amenities, etc.  Impacts on schools, police services, city services, emergency call response rates, resource availability (water, power, sewer, etc.) all need to be evaluated.   We must remember that a large number of units eventually translates into a large influx of new residents, a large number of new auto trips coming and going from the site (regardless of whether or not it is transit-route adjacent) and new demands for services.  A large retail establishment and market will also attract more vehicles to the site, contributing to worsening levels of service at already dysfunctional adjacent intersections and arterials. 

In-depth discussion of project mitigation measures is required as part of the DEIR documentation.   Traffic mitigations, employee public transit incentive programs, tree plantings, EXPO contributions, etc. should be explored.  After specific traffic estimates have been generated, it will be possible to determine which mitigation measures might be employed to diminish negative impacts.  These measures will include signal synchronization and dedicated turn lanes (left and right) for the immediate area and into and out of the project. 

The project should be required to fund and operate a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program for all on-site employees that will hopefully extend into the community serving nearby small businesses to allow for added efficiencies.   (This might be extended as far as the Westside Pavilion.)  The operation of a community shuttle has long been discussed as being a needed and worthwhile community amenity that would help to reduce local traffic trips and serve the elderly and others who choose not to drive.  Participation in the development of such a shuttle and in its operation with a fixed route that would connect the site with Westside Pavilion, Century City, UCLA Medical Center, local library, etc. is to be encouraged.  The timing of this project may enable its principals to participate in helping to fund the relevant feasibility studies used to determine routing and operation. 

Sidewalk improvements in the nearby area complement well the mitigation measures related to shuttle operation, tree plantings and the promotion of neighborhood businesses.  Sepulveda Blvd. lacks contiguous sidewalks going north from the project toward Olympic Blvd.  These sidewalks should be developed as well as those on Exposition and wherever lacking in the project vicinity in accordance with arterial corridor (or other appropriate) standards.

Traffic:  A project of this size requires a full Environmental Impact Report per CEQA requirements, and a comprehensive 24-hour traffic impact report, instead of the outdated peak-hour traffic counts currently utilized as part of LADOT’s outdated policy.  Impacts on all adjacent streets segments from the project entrances and exits must be evaluated as well as cut through traffic in nearby residential neighborhoods.   The ability of local residents to access their streets must also be examined on a street-by-street basis particularly for the landlocked neighborhood just south of the project. Impacts of density for all alternatives must be evaluated.  Street capacities must be clearly identified as well as the capacity for traffic on any involved intersections before and after proposed changes.  Alternative measures to mitigate failed intersections must be proposed and evaluated.

 The presence of the EXPO light rail line on the railroad right of way adjacent to the project will require analysis of the route both with “at grade” level crossings at Sepulveda and with a separated grade crossing.  Projections of added traffic (auto, bus and rail) at the site as a result of the operation of the EXPO line must be incorporated into all projections. 

Modeling must be done to demonstrate levels of service for intersections within a stated radius and mitigations for each intersection when project impacts cause a change in that level of service.   We would recommend that traffic analysis generated by the proposal to locate a Target store in downtown Santa Monica be reviewed to compare store size, expected traffic calculations and impacts with those generated in this environmental document.   

There must be thorough analysis of the development traffic impacts on the two nearby freeways – I-405 and I-10. That analysis must be more comprehensive than the typical perfunctory analysis that is done in the Congestion Management Program (CMP) section of a DEIR. Review of many DEIR’s has shown the freeway impact analyses to be treated as an afterthought with the minimum work done to barely satisfy the requirement.

Whatever the eventual project may be on this site, space must be dedicated for the installation of bicycle lanes that provide riders with a secure place to ride.  The importance of developing a network of bicycle lanes in the area connecting the EXPO line with local commerce and education facilities as well as to enable local residents to easily and safely access the stations from their homes cannot be overlooked.  If this means that the project boundaries must be moved inward from the street or earlier contemplated dedications, then so be it.  The complicated nature of the intersections adjacent to the project and the large volumes of traffic suggest that bicyclists deserve added protection in the approaches to and from this location and the EXPO line which we hope to encourage them to use.   These lanes should be designed to hook up with bike lanes on both Pico and Sepulveda and with whatever network of lanes is being recommended in the expected citywide bike plan including an anticipated EXPO right-of-way route.  The provision of bicycle lockers as part of this project and/or its transit center is needed to encourage riders coming from long distances to park their bikes and ride the transit.  The placement of convenient bicycle racks for project customers is also expected.

The proximity of this location to the EXPO route and the station to be located between Sawtelle and Sepulveda Blvds. requires that this project ask and address many additional questions as part of its evaluation.  This EIR must include an option for shared parking that supports transit users as well as providing parking for small businesses and restaurants nearby, perhaps with a “park and ride” or shuttle arrangement.  Most important is the provision of needed parking for EXPO transit users.  The EXPO DEIR locates approximately 200 parking spaces to be adjacent to the Westwood Blvd. station which places those spaces directly adjacent to R-1 homes in an area that has been recognized by the community as being land that should remain as open space.  Moving these spaces and whatever shortfall is projected for the Sepulveda station (after a DOT location parking structure is built) to the Casden site is desired.  (It is our opinion that the EXPO DEIR did not provide adequate parking for the rail operation at a number of the stops along the route, including our local stops from Palms to Sepulveda.) 

While current congestion psychology suggests that reducing available parking and increasing the cost of personal vehicle use will significantly reduce personal automobile use, we must make certain that this project provides adequate and free parking to its patrons.  The impact of having customers and/or employees searching for parking throughout the neighborhoods is unacceptable.  The Casden organization should develop strong positive incentives for employees and residents to use public transit, and not employ punitive measures to promote transit use, especially when our transit networks are so sorely lacking.

The Casden project could build upon the open space corridor / greenbelt proposed by the community by incorporating it into the future project to be built at this site.  The greenbelt could terminate within the project rather than at Sepulveda Blvd. and be a unifying feature that helps to reduce the division of the community that could occur with the construction of this project and the rail line.  Whether or not the greenbelt is continued into the Casden property, it is quite clear that the incorporation of additional open space into the project’s plans is needed.  If and when a project is approved, there will be an opportunity for the developer to implement project mitigations to benefit the community. 

One set of possible mitigation measures could be to make meaningful contributions to the urban forest in the nearby community.  Project conditions could and should require the plantings of trees, both large and small, on the greenbelt and on nearby City parkways completing plantings on Sepulveda Blvd., Sawtelle Blvd., Pico Blvd. Exposition Blvd., etc.  Of course, the project itself should be required to develop an extensive landscape plan that complements both the project and the community.  Large trees of indigenous species such as California sycamores make good shade and can create a lovely street canopy to reduce heat and energy costs while improving air quality.  Another mitigation condition and community benefit of the project could be the establishment of a community urban forest fund to generate income to support the trimming and care for area street trees and those on the greenbelt. 

This project proposal seems to ignore the presence of the adjacent transit stop other than to attempt to take advantage of its presence by increasing project density.  We do not believe that the mere presence of a single EXPO line will magically cause large numbers of prospective project residents to suddenly sell their autos and change jobs so that they can ride EXPO to work and move into the Casden property.  It will be a long time coming before connecting transit lines enable a truly comprehensive network of public transit options that can justify the reduction of parking in residential projects and the adoption of the assumption that just because someone happens to live on or near a major transit corridor that they will, in fact, use public transit.  Therefore, all traffic analysis done for this project must be done without the influence of rose-colored (and somewhat delusional) glasses.  We will continue to support the growth of public transit options and routes, but also realize that shifts in behavior of large populations take time…  and in the meanwhile we are all stuck in traffic.

There is a marked lack of specific transit-oriented development or transit-oriented features within this project that should be consistent with a commercial development adjacent to a rail station.  Providing rider amenities is an important component of any transit-oriented development.  This is especially important in this location which has an almost island-like quality located between very busy streets and the freeway with few linkages to adjacent properties.    

We would like to go into detail in our comments on the inclusion of a transit center in this project and how such a center would be highly compatible with the manufacturing land use designation on this site.  In fact, the residential component of this project might best be moved to a nearby location leaving genuine M uses on the site with the transit center.  Why a transit center? 

The incorporation of a transit center into the project to be built on this site is a proposal we support and present for evaluation.  This recommended alternative for DEIR review resulted from the unique location of this property.  It is directly adjacent to the EXPO light rail line under construction that will connect downtown LA to Santa Monica and all points in between.  It lies at the intersection of two major arterials:  Pico Blvd. (east/west) and Sepulveda Blvd. (north/south) in one of the most congested areas of the county, where traffic studies routinely identify nearby intersections to be operating at “F” levels of service.  It also borders Sawtelle Blvd., a major freeway alternate route connecting Culver City with West Los Angeles and the Veterans Administration property, hospital and clinics.  The property runs alongside the 405/San Diego Freeway, the major north/south transportation artery in the state and region connecting metropolitan Los Angeles with the San Fernando Valley and South Bay communities.

This location is served by all three major bus service providers in the area:  Metro, Santa Monica Blue Bus and the Culver City Municipal line.  The LAX FlyAway bus passes by on its current route from Westwood Village to the airport.  This provides the opportunity for seamless transfer amongst providers as well as between connecting routes on a single provider’s service and offers connections to EXPO and the entire regional light rail network.

Because of its size (a parcel of this size is unusual), location, and proximity to key public transit routes, the use of this parcel must be carefully considered from a planning and land use perspective.  Potential uses under the current zone, which allows manufacturing and institutional uses, should be seriously explored and should incorporate the establishment of a transit center.  Once the zone is changed from M2 to C2, options under M2 become less desirable to the owner/developer and too costly for institutional/transit uses.

Addressing our area’s and region’s transportation needs is a major priority for citizens and government and a growing priority for the business community as well.  To allow this property to be developed without addressing the community’s and region’s needs and without incorporating truly transit-supportive components, is to allow the loss of key pieces needed for the construction of a functioning public transit network.  Project alternatives that incorporate the transit center should be given priority. The loss of the opportunity for the beneficial use of this land presents the loss of an irreplaceable asset in the assemblage of our Westside and regional transportation system.  

Project alternatives should explore consideration of the transit center as a public entity, as a possible public-private partnership and other models.  Alternatives for funding via grants, government projects, etc. must be explored and the relevant agencies and community leaders involved.  No consideration of re-zoning of this property should take place: a) before completion of the WLA Community Plan and, b) before all potential funding mechanisms can be explored to determine feasibility.  It should be noted and understood that this may extend the project review process, however, such accommodations will need to be made to develop resources that may be necessary to realize this important goal.  

Lying at the western edge of the West LA Pico business corridor, this property could be used to promote transit use for the entire community, particularly if a local circulator / shuttle is developed as recommended in the WLA Community Plan.  Few properties in the area are large enough to allow for significant underground parking (or for the construction of an above ground parking structure).  The location could provide additional parking for EXPO, could serve as a source for auxiliary parking for local businesses, etc.  The provision of parking for EXPO is particularly important because it can replace the surface parking slated for the Westwood Blvd. station which could then be developed into much-needed community open space/greenbelt instead.  The removal of surface parking between Overland and Westwood will also improve traffic flow on both those streets where parking cars would otherwise need to merge in and out of traffic.  The location could also provide park and ride space for carpoolers

Additional transit center amenities could include:  services for transit riders, transit route information, ticket sales, bicycle parking and storage lockers and other bike-friendly amenities, carpool drop and pickup location, newsstand, refreshments, etc. creating user-friendly access to public transit.

Finally, while public transit services on the 405 freeway connecting the Westside with the San Fernando Valley and South Bay and points along this north/south artery have yet to be developed, they will be a reality in the future.  This parcel is most ideally located to provide linkage with future public transit on the 405.  We must plan now for this eventuality.  This linkage cannot and must not be lost.

Since we have been told that a Target store is the prospective tenant for the large commercial space in this project, it is entirely appropriate to request that an economic analysis be done to determine what negative impacts may be experienced by the local merchants in the community with the occupancy of a Target nearby.  Many communities across the country have turned away Target and other discount department store establishments because of the concern that their mass marketing will create a retail climate in which smaller retailers are unable to compete.  It is the intention of our community to support and enhance the neighborhood oriented small businesses within the Pico/Westwood Neighborhood Oriented District directly to the east of this project.  The nature of a Target store encourages customers from near and far to drive to the store, park in its lot, shop and leave the premises.  That would make this a very odd selection of tenants to place in a development that is meant to be transit oriented.  Those shopping at Target tend to depart carrying a cart full of merchandise, not likely to be carted home via EXPO.  The Target presence will not encourage pedestrian activity and it may, in fact, hurt local business by drawing away customers and by contributing to traffic that will make it difficult for small business customers to access these establishments.  Review of the Santa Monica environmental documents for the proposed downtown Target may shed some light on this discussion of economic impacts.  Exploration of this issue should be included in the DEIR. 

It is difficult to assess the impact of a supermarket at this location since there are numerous such outlets in the area.  The proposed market would be a larger-scale market than the Ralphs on Olympic or National or the Vons on Sepulveda nearby.  There is a large Ralphs Market not far to the west, as well, at Olympic and Barrington. We have numerous Trader Joes shops in the area with a new TJ opening on Olympic near Stoner shortly.  A Whole Foods store is located at National and Barrington, and a Smart and Final right across Pico from the project.  Many in the area would say that we are better served by having a number of smaller markets dispersed throughout the community rather than being faced with the prospect of a larger market siphoning off customers and resulting in the loss of the smaller outlets thus leaving people no choice but to increase their travel distance and time to access the Casden project market.  

What do market research studies show will be the impact of this market and the customer share it will attract?  One would suspect that it will result in shifting customers from one market to another as the total number of residents projected for the Casden project, while significant for the area, is not adequate to support a large sized supermarket.  

Our community is exceedingly sensitive to issues related to signage.  We have active appeals before the City Planning Dept. related to signs on both Westwood and Santa Monica Blvds.  Because of our sad experiences of becoming hosts to illegally placed signs in the area, signs posted during the City’s moratorium, signs placed in violation of our community plan, etc., we will insist upon strict and clear sign conditions.  The project documents should not expect to incorporate the placement of any offsite signs on the property, including those on or consisting of billboards, rooftop signs, free standing signs, signs affixed to buildings or walls and/or supergraphic signage.  No digital signs, either offsite or onsite shall be permitted.  Economic projections as to how this project might “pencil out” should not include income from any of these sources. 

None of the allowed illuminated onsite signs should be allowed to shine measurable light onto the residential neighborhood areas to the south and to the east of the project.  Sign plans should be reviewed before approval by the CD 5 office with input from WNC and its member associations.  The DEIR should analyze traffic hazards and the aesthetic impacts, including nighttime light and glare, and shade and shadow for any proposed signs within the stated guidelines.

We expect that this project will demonstrate complete compliance with AQMD rules and regulations pertaining to air quality during construction and the eventual operation of the final project.

Sustainability:  We note that many projects coming before the city tout their desire and/or intention to meet Silver LEEDS standards.  We request that this project, once defined, go farther to incorporate measures that exceed such goals.  Our recent negotiations with the Westfield Corporation in relation to their Century City project sought to establish higher recycling and water conservation standards.  The residential portion of that project will include a third (“purple”) pipe to encourage re-use of certain water for irrigation purposes (which might tie in exceedingly well with the nearby greenbelt). 

 There is currently no design review board for this area of Pico Blvd. but ongoing community plan discussions suggest that the community seeks to improve the quality and appearance of future development (and current buildings) in the area.  The placement a sizable project on this site, being the first development east of the 405 freeway makes it a “gateway” development for the Pico corridor with the potential for setting the tone for the balance of the street.  We do not wish to see a project built here that resembles a giant box dropped onto the property from outer space.  This site and our community deserve better.  We seek a project that is well-integrated with its residential and business neighbors and one that serves as a transition from the freeway.  Pico Blvd. is our neighborhood thoroughfare and, as such, we must require insist upon visible and open access by pedestrians from Pico.  A tiered project exterior should be contemplated to diminish the monolithic presence presented in project drawings.  Reduced height and size will address some of the negative impacts of the massive structures seen.  Additional pedestrian entrances for retailing are needed for all street frontages.  Greater setbacks from the street are needed and should be designed with well landscaped and ample sidewalks.  A pleasant pedestrian experience should be the goal; one should not feel that they are an ant beneath a large block when traversing adjacent to this project. 

We would have additional and more detailed comments on the variables related to this project had we been able to review the project information online.  Copies of the project Initial Study Checklist and project development plans were not provided to our association or neighborhood council.  We were unable to locate the Notice of Preparation on line on the City Planning Department website; links to the project case number indicated that there were no scanned documents available.  The Initial Study Checklist, usually distributed at Scoping Meetings and with NOP’s, was not included with the materials we received.  Perhaps the City or applicant would like to distribute these documents for a specified period allowing us the opportunity to make formal comment on them for consideration in the environmental review process to take place.  Something should be done to rectify this situation.  It is both unrealistic and disrespectful of our time to expect community members to visit the downtown planning offices in order to review the project information.

 We are appreciative of the cooperation of Planning Dept. staff and look forward to working with the staff and representatives of the developer in the hope that a project can be developed that addresses this community’s concerns and the objectives of the developer.  However, we remain resolute that a zone change and community plan change is not appropriate for this site, certainly now during the drafting of the WLA Community Plan and most likely looking into the future.

 Thank you for your consideration of our comments.  Please keep us informed as to future meetings, hearings, deadlines, and opportunities for participation pertaining to this project.

 

Sincerely,

 

Barbara Broide

President

 cc:  L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz, CD 5


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 CENTURY PLAZA HOTEL

New plan for Century Plaza hotel adds two 46-story towers

The $1.5-billion project by owner Michael Rosenfeld, who had originally planned to raze the Space Age hotel in Century City, would be one of the largest real estate developments on the Westside in decades.

LA TIMES - August 11, 2010|Roger Vincent and Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times
After backing down from a contentious proposal to demolish the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel, the owner has unveiled plans to construct a high-rise real estate development next to the Space Age landmark that would transform the tenor of Century City's streets and dramatically alter the skyline.
The $1.5-billion proposal calls for two 46-story skyscrapers holding hundreds of condominiums and offices to be built behind the renowned hotel on Avenue of the Stars. Nearly half of the guest rooms would be replaced by luxury condos as part of a top-to-bottom makeover.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The project Final EIR (FEIR) has been released (MAY 2012) and we await City hearings to take comments from the community.  We will be reviewing the FEIR and invite your participation in this process.  The FEIR is posted on the PLanning Dept. website:

 http://cityplanning.lacity.org/eir/CenturyPlazaMixedDevelopment/FEIR/index.html

Project lead staff for the City:

Hadar Plafkin
City Planner/Environmental Review Coordinator
Los Angeles Department of City Planning
200 North Spring Street, Room 750
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax: 213.978.1343

hadar.plafkin@lacity.org


Circulation Period:July 21, 2011 - September 06, 2011
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

10000 SANTA MONICA BLVD:

Miami-based developer Crescent Heights released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for their proposed residential project to be located on the eastern border of Century City where it joins Beverly Hills.  

Crescent Heights is finalizing their plans with the City for the construction of a building of up to 39 stories consisting of 283 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units ranging from 1600 to 2000 square feet in size, with an average price of $ 1.5 million.  The $184-million project  consists of a proposed 486,000-square-foot building that would rise 36 to 39 stories and could take six years to plan and construct according to a recent LA Times article.

The project's January 25th hearing was attended by numerous community representatives who supported the project as it is ALL residential and does not include commercial, office or retail uses.  In addition, the project will be built with energy efficient technology incorporated into all elements and is proposed to be one of the first projects in Los Angeles to build and operate a fully automated garage for tenants and guests.  Automated garages require less land, less digging/hauling of dirt and reduce air pollution and our carbon footprint by removing the need to drive around in a parking structure looking for a parking. 

While we continue to mourn the loss of the old WELTON BECKETT -designed headquarters building that was demolished by a former owner of the property illegally and without permits, the Crescent Heights project will bring a strong architectural statement to the eastern "entrance" to Century City.  The developer, Crescent Heights reached out to the community throughout the environmental review process in order to obtain community input and, as a result, at the time of the January 25th  hearing, none of the neighboring associations, including WSSM, spoke in opposition to the project.  We appreciate the effort made by Crescent Heights to come to our Board before plans were final and, as is so often the case, before this project was a "done deal."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 MASONIC LODGE (LIBERAL ARTS LODGE) / APPLICATION FOR A CELLULAR TMOBILE INSTALLATION successfully challenged. 

WSSM filed an appeal on behalf of the residents and businesses near the Masonic Lodge in response to the City's approval of a cellular telephone installation on the rooftop of the Masonic Lodge at 2244 Westwood Blvd.  The appeal hearing was held before the West Los Angeles Planning Commission on Wednesday, April 2oth with residential and commercial reps attending and testifying.

The WLA Area Planning Commission ruled in favor of our appeal and has denied the application for cellular installations atop the Lodge.  At the hearing a number of  residential and business neighbors spoke, as did Barbara Broide and Marilyn Cohon on behalf of WSSM.  Chris Koontz, Planning Deputy for CD 5 provided important testimony to help support our case.  It was a well earned victory for the community. 

HOA members interested in helping to track cell issues and to help encourage the city to establish new regulations governing cell installations, particularly in the pubic right-of-way are invited to get involved!  

We look forward to meeting with Lodge representatives to address the remaining issues. 


                                               --------------------------------------

        Summary of Issues Raised at Meeting with Masonic Lodge

                                         

On August 25, 2010 a meeting was held at L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz’ offices, regarding a number of issues residents and a business had with the Masonic Lodge on Westwood Boulevard.

 

Those present included: Jay Greenstein and Christopher Koontz of CD5; Amy Julien representing T-Mobile; Bob Ruvelson, Dr. David Jimenez, and Rusty Roten representing the Lodge; Nancy Catullo representing Pasina’s Restaurant; Walt Maynes and Mitch Okmin representing residents on the block behind the Lodge, Glendon Avenue; and Marilyn Cohon, Barbara Broide, and Bob Cimiluca representing Westwood South of Santa Monica Blvd HOA.

 Following is a list of issues raised, in no particular order:

  • A lot of alcoholic beverages are typically brought into the lodge. But it is not known if the renters have an ABC one-day permit or not.
  • There are many underage drinkers. Security provided at the rental does not interfere with the drinking.
  • There is no one in charge.
  • There is no one from the Masonic Lodge who is present during the event.
  • There is usually lots of noise coming from the Lodge.
  • The Lodge has only six parking spots on its property, and has made no arrangements to have off-site parking elsewhere.
  • There is a lot of littering on Glendon Ave
  • Although there is Permit Parking on Glendon, the City does not enforce it at night, so cars congretate on Glendon. Party goers will use the cars as a place to drink and litter.
  • Some of the partygoers urinate on lawns.
  • Some partygoers were using a fence in front of a resident’s home as a perch on which to loiter. The resident felt compelled to take the fence down.
  • One resident spent $17,000 to put in new windows, in an attempt to abate the noise from the Lodge. It did not work.
  • Mitch Okmin reported that he discovered empty beer cans stacked on his patio and children’s swing, indicating that the revelers had climbed over the wall.
  • Pastina’s would like to get a more detailed schedule of upcoming events posted on the internet.
  •  The residents feel that putting a cell phone antenna on the roof of the Lodge would be yet another negative effecting their property value. They do not want the antenna so placed.
  • Pastina’s reported that on some occasions, limousines park outside her restaurant, and people enter the vehicles, stay a while, and emerge adjusting their clothing.
  • When the shooting at the Lodge occurred, meetings were held with the community, and the Police, and some agreements were struck. Those agreements were never fulfilled.
  • It was stated that the residents on Glendon needed a point of contact at the Lodge when events are in progress.
  • The Lodge promised more transparency of their scheduled events. Their web site still says “Event Booked”.
  • Signage was requested, posted on the wall, which refers to the noise abatement ordinances.
  • Signage was also requested, posted on the back door, which says that the door must be kept closed.
  • The residents asked for the rental agreement to be enforced with regards to noise abatement, which is a city ordinance, rather than Item 11 on the agreement. In other words, the Lodge person in charge can call the police if noise is too high, rather than having the neighbors call the police.
  • The guard service should be warned that whenever a large van or truck is parked in front of the Lodge, it potentially is a barricade, and foretells a potentially dangerous event has been scheduled, such as what occurred on September 4 of this year.
  • The guard on duty needs to read the signed Rental Agreement prior to the event, so that he knows what the renter has agreed to.
  • Can the Lodge or Tmobile explain the signficance of the 500 foot radius drawn on the charts.
  • The residents have proposed that the paper on the health effects of the transmission towers  be passed on to the Lodge.



 WELLESBOURNE:

This new bar/pub opened at the former site of Anna's Restaurant at the corner of Pico and Kelton in mid-December.  There were initial problems with crowds and late night noise which the owner has been made aware of. and has pledged to improve.   Arrangements for off-site parking and a safer valet location have been requested by WSSM.  We also notified the owner that it was our understanding that they must offer food service and cannot operate solely as a bar.  The kitchen has been completed and a limited menu is available during specified hours.  

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LA City Sign Ordinance revisions  sent to City Attorney's office from  PLUM Committee Dec. 5, 2011: 

Proposed changes to the ordinance made at the Dec. 5th meeting essentially gut the purpose of the 2002 ban on new signs and will result in an explosion of new signage without the requirement that OLD EXISTING signs be removed when any new signs are erected.  The industry has proposed that they be allowed to instead make a contribution to a "community benefit fund."  ALSO problematic is the proposal that the LA Zoo be allowed to be its own sign district and the request to allow signage in City parks.  Years of meetings and compromise and work appear to be have been scratched.     Watch for updates and opportunities to comment. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Make a free website with Yola