Tuesday, November 4, 2008

WHAT WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED IN 20 YEARS:
OPEN SPACES SAVED;
TRAFFIC DISASTER PREVENTED!

11/4/2008

When we first began fighting the onslaught of mega-developments that out-of-town builders were planning here, the threatened traffic gridlock would have been staggering. City planners told us the traffic on Lincoln Blvd/Highway 1 would DOUBLE. Traffic on the 405 Freeway, which is now a virtual parking lot, would increase by 28% from Playa Vista alone!

By working with our partners and friendly elected officials, we have scaled back what would have been a disaster to much more manageable growth. We didn't get all that we wanted, but, for example, we saved 2/3rds of the Playa Vista/Ballona Wetlands. We still have a chance to save another 10% of this site. We preserved blufftop trails and the Cabora Road trail system. And we cut the size or eliminated many of the other major projects: Fully 60% of the new car trips per day that were on the books in 1989 have been cancelled!


TABLE OF DEVELOPMENT-TRAFFIC PROPOSED IN OUR AREA IN 1989:

(the traffic totals come from an L.A. City Planning department report from 1989)

PROJECTS IN 1989

CAR TRIPS PER DAY

OUTCOME

LAX Northside and

Continental City

72,705

37,000

Both Not Built due to changed LAX plans

LAX 55 Million annual passengers Expansion

18,950

18,950 trips (more growth was proposed in the late 1990's that was cancelled)

Howard Hughes Center

37,350

Around 30,000 trips completed

Playa Vista

200,000

Cut to 79,000 trips due to State Parkland Purchase; Only around 25,000 trips completed so far

Marina Marketplace (Gelsons)

18,293

18,293--completed

Marina Place Mall

34,699

Cut to around 10,000; now CostCo/Albertsons/Sav-On center

Corporate Pointe

12,859

Around 5,000 completed

Sepulveda/Slauson offices

13,914

cancelled

Santa Monica Commons

17,231

cancelled

Marina Del Rey redevelopment

25,056

Approved but mostly unbuilt

TOTALS

488,056

BUILT: 107,243

CANCELLED-REDUCED:

286,549

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

REMAINING TO BE BUILT: 94,265

54,000 AT PLAYA VISTA, 25,056 IN MARINA DEL REY

plus Hughes Center buildout of 4 remaining lots


SOME BACKGROUND:

In 1985, the City Council which was very-friendly with developers approved the "Big-4" super-sized developments which surrounded the communities of Westchester and Playa del Rey. The only concession offered by these developers was that they would pay to widen most of the major roads in this area to the width of a freeway--or 10 lanes across. What made the plan fall apart was the discovery in 1988, (after voters elected a new councilperson to represent us at city hall,) that the money promised to fix traffic problems was less than half of what was required. That meant that taxpayers would have to fork over $100 million to fix problems, while these developers stood to make billions in profits.

(Also, note that in the table above, traffic totals are for the entire day, while in the article below, traffic totals are for each rush hour. Normally, to convert rush hour car trips into daily trips, multiply by 10.)


City Cites 2 Highrise Projects Over Funding Shortfall

By Rex Frankel

(originally printed in the Westchester Journal September 29, 1988)

The traffic management plan created by former Councilwoman Pat Russell in 1985 was denounced by City officials and Russell's successor Ruth Galanter last Thursday as giving special favors to two local high rise projects, the Howard Hughes Center and Continental City. Galanter criticized the granting by Russell in 1986 of development agreements for the two projects which lock-in traffic improvement fees at one third that to be paid by all other new businesses.

Representing the City Dept. of Transportation, Haripal Vir said the Coastal Transportation Corridor Specific Plan (CTCSP) will come up about $100 million short of its target of raising $191 million for traffic improvements from developers of commercial and industrial projects in the area bounded by the San Diego Freeway, Santa Monica City limits, the Pacific Ocean and Imperial Highway. Vir told the approximately 50 audience members that "only a change in land use can ultimately balance the development and transportation infrastructure" in the area. Galanter agreed, stating that reducing densities of Westside building projects was the major issue in her successful campaign against Russell last year.

The traffic fund would pay for the widening of most non-residential streets in the area, including Lincoln and Sepulveda Blvds. The plan also recommends that Falmouth Avenue in Playa del Rey be continued north from the edge of the Bluffs to Admiralty Way in Marina Del Rey.

One audience member shouted that "the whole ordinance should be scrapped." Others didn't like the proposed continuation of Falmouth and the widening of Lincoln and Sepulveda, while others opposed elimination of parking along major streets and loss of local businesses to the proposed street widenings.

The $191 million figure was the estimated amount needed to widen local streets to accomodate the total buildout of all commercial and industrial property in the Westchester, Playa del Rey, Del Rey, Mar Vista and Venice areas to at least 3 to 1 density. (For comparison, building densities in Downtown L.A. average out to 3.5 to 1 density.) This buildout would have caused creation of 34,560 rush hour vehicle trips. The Hughes Center and Continental City projects will create 10,300 of these trips. Adding the 9800 trips planned by Playa Vista and the 7500 planned at the LAX Northside project--a total of 27,600 rush hour trips will be created by these 4 projects. High rise construction on Century Blvd. will add several thousand more trips.

Galanter criticized the approach used by Russell's CTCSP as saying that " 'any amount of growth is OK as long as we keep widening streets and improving intersections to handle it.' I don't accept it and I believe very few of my constituents do either."

Galanter told the crowd to expect more public hearings on the revisions to the CTCSP in early 1989.

The changes to the CTCSP recommended by the City Transportation Department are as follows:

1. Raise the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) fee charged developers of new commercial and industrial projects from $2112 to $5690 for each additional rush hour vehicle trip created. The 20-year development agreements enacted for the Hughes Center and Continental City by Russell lock in these fees at the lower level. The report recomends prohibiting the setting of these TIA fees in future development agreements.

2. Cut the amount of time to pay the fees from 20 to 10 years.

3. Make new local-serving commercial projects, such as markets and mini-malls, pay TIA fees at 30% of that charged the more-regional commercial projects, such as offices and hotels. The DOT report cites a study showing that 70% of the area's traffic passes through and only 30% is locally generated.

4. Require widening of streets or improvements to intersections before a building can be occupied.

5. Modify the concept of "in-lieu credits", which are traffic improvements paid for directly by the developer which theoretically benefit the surrounding community, too, and are credited against the TIA fee. Both the Howard Hughes Center and Continental City projects make extensive use of these credits, further cutting into the city's ability to raise the needed $191 million.

6. Find ways to make LAX pay TIA fees for its proposed expansion from handling 40 million annual passengers to 65 million.

7. The report also suggested making now-exempt residential developments pay TIA fees if they generate "significant" amounts of traffic.


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