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Residents Weigh In on Culver Boulevard Development Project

Increased traffic and quality of life issues are chief concerns among residents.

The proposed project at the site of the vacant lot known as “the Triangle” was a source of contention at last night’s meeting of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa's Planning and Land Use Committee.

The planned site, at 138 Culver Boulevard, would consist of a 72-unit residential, primarily apartment, complex with 16,000-square-feet of retail space, including two restaurants, a bike shop and a grocery store. The project would also have two levels of underground parking and is being developed by Legado Companies, a real estate development firm.

“The intent is to make the project a great success and to grow from there,” said Derek Jones, Legado’s chief operating officer.

Jones was on hand to present the plans to the council and to hear from residents. People spoke of their concerns regarding increased traffic in the neighborhood, and the impact such a project might have on their quality of life.

“I’m not opposed to the development,” said Elise Slifkin-McClure who lives in Playa del Rey. “I’m opposed to overdevelopment.”

She also mentioned her concerns about “the lack of an EIR,” or Environmental Impact Review.

Jones told the committee there needed to be clarification regarding the EIR.

“We’re not proposing that there be no EIR,” he said. “I think there is a misunderstanding here.”

He said “at the end of the day, it is the Planning Commission’s call.” However, he said a Mitigated Negative Declaration, or MND, has been done since “the project won’t have a severe environmental impact that can’t be mitigated.” A traffic study and a soil analysis have also been conducted, he said.

“There shouldn’t be the assumption that a MND is not equal to an EIR,” Jones said.

Michael Gemme, who said he represented many renters in the area, spoke out against the project.

“The traffic impact alone is enough,” Gemme said. “Now we’re going to put that many cars there? Ridiculous. We have to fight this as hard as we can. Please keep Playa del Rey the way it is.”

Other residents expressed concerns to Jones that Playa del Rey not become “another Manhattan Beach.”

Committee Member Cheryl Burnett and Playa del Rey resident said parking is a big concern for many neighbors.

“It’s a huge issue for the community if there is one car per unit,” she said.

There would be guest parking for residents and one hour of free parking for the retail space, but he did not recall the total number of parking spaces that will be available, Jones said. While he will not yet name specific retailers, Jones said he has received letters of intent from “very strong” retail tenants.

“There are some people here I'm not going to make happy,” Jones said of the development. "But I think we can be very flexible when it comes to enhancing its fit with Playa del Rey."

He said construction for the project should take approximately 16 months. The committee plans for Jones to make another presentation with story boards and more detailed design plans at a meeting in the near future. Committee member Pat Jones also asked Jones to send the committee the traffic study to make it more accessible for area residents to read.

Mary Killean May 23, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Playa del Rey is rich in biology,wildlife and ecology. To have 3 major construction sites and NOT do an environmental study (EIR) would be neglectful and foolish, as protectors and stewards of our land. A Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) is NOT the "same thing" as an EIR and is not enough to look at all negative impacts these projects will have on the environment. As residents and advocates we must firmly stand on the request for EIR's on all three Delgado projects. This important step cannot be "skipped".
Elise Slifkin-McClure May 23, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I completely agree with Mary. I am quoted in the above article, and my statement was in response to the Legados Company Developer, Derek Jones stating his opinion that a request for an EIR is often used as a "delaying tactic" for developments. I stepped in to challenge that, given the enormous impact the three developments will have on the quality of life for the entire community-the residents and the wildlife of Playa del Rey. The adverse effects on our air quality, traffic and noise generated will be immense, and an EIR is essential!
Svein Mikkelsen May 24, 2012 at 08:42 AM
Derek Jones is quoted as saying “We’re not proposing that there be no EIR, I think there is a misunderstanding here” and then later "There shouldn't be the assumption that a MND is not equal to an EIR." It seems it's Mr Jones who misunderstands. There is quite clearly a distinct difference between a MND and an EIR. Playa del Rey is home to a large community of Angelino nature lovers who have chosen their hometown for its unique reflection of Los Angeles values. It seems to me it is in Legado Companies' interest to put at ease the minds of the many residents of PdR who are concerned for the future of their beloved, one-of-a-kind community. Concerns which appear warranted when Mr Jones is quoted as saying "The intent is to make the project a great success and to grow from there." I for one would like to know what entails "a great success" when it comes to environmental impact, not to mention changing the daily lives of the members of the Playa del Rey community who seem to have a dramatically different idea of what purpose Playa del Rey serves. Mr Jones clearly states their intentions to "grow from there," will we as a community have more or less say then than we do now on that growth and the future of our priceless Playa del Rey?

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