Playa Vista Seeks $300 Million "Gift" from the People of Los Angeles via Massive Increase in What they're Allowed Build.
They seek OK for their Last Phase--the same project we overturned in 2007.
"Under the plan adopted in principle by the governing board of the L.A. Department of Water and Power, homes and businesses would pay a penalty rate -- nearly double normal prices -- for any water they use in excess of a reduced monthly allowance."
PLAYA VISTA: Concerns are reviewed a year after work on community was stopped when first study found flaws.
2/17/2009, Daily Breeze
By Kristin S. Agostoni, Staff Writer
More than a year after a court ruling halted Playa Vista's second phase, developers of the master-planned community are hoping a new environmental study will move the project closer toward completion.
Since an appellate court ruled in September 2007 that an analysis for the so-called Village contained flaws, the land targeted for shops, homes and offices off Jefferson Boulevard has sat dormant and mostly vacant.
The grading is nearly complete and half of the roads have been put into place, but the court issued a stop-work order until a handful of disputed land-use issues were reviewed.
Now those issues are being hashed out in a revised environmental impact report that will trigger a new collection of city approvals.
Residents have until March 16 to submit comments on the "recirculated" EIR, which analyzes a development identical to the earlier one - with 2,600 homes, 175,000 square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of retail and 40,000 square feet of community uses.
"We're moving forward with the plan that was approved by the City Council for The Village," said Playa Vista spokesman Steve Sugerman, adding that officials and residents are anxious to move on. "The court was pretty specific that all of the other areas (of the original EIR) were fine," he said.
The battle over The Village began not long after the council approved the project in September 2004.
Opponents, including the city of Santa Monica, the Surfrider Foundation, representatives of the Tongva/Gabrieleno Indians and groups dedicated to preserving the nearby Ballona Wetlands, said in two separate lawsuits that the environmental impact report was flawed.
In January 2006, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge had ruled that the city and Playa Vista provided the public and decision-makers with adequate information.
But the appellate court, which consolidated the cases and reviewed more than two dozen issues raised by opponents, singled out three "deficiencies."
The judges questioned the analysis of the project's effects on the Hyperion wastewater treatment plant, the treatment of human remains and artifacts dating back 3,500 years, and whether the city accurately described permitted land uses for the site.
On the latter issue, the court ruled that the EIR did not acknowledge that the proposed retail complex would "dramatically increase the amount of development permissible" on the property spanning 111 acres. Therefore, Playa Vista is required to seek a collection of land-use amendments.
Rex Frankel of the Ballona Ecosystem Education Project, one of the groups that sued, said he was pleased to see the new report acknowledge that the proposed land uses go beyond what is permitted - 108,050 square feet of office and light industrial space.
But Frankel also said he wants the analysis to include alternative plans that would adhere to the lower zoning threshold.
A community retail center still could be built, he said, but he'd like to see consideration given to other uses for the surrounding property, such as park space or a treatment wetland.
"The city has a lot of leverage right now to decide what is appropriate on this land," Frankel said. "We should have an honest discussion in an EIR. If you tell the truth, then the public at least knows we don't have to accept this project."
As for the treatment of Indian remains in the area, it's unclear what, if anything, will come from the revised report.
The area where most of the remains were discovered is now occupied by a drainage channel that was approved as part of Playa Vista's first phase and runs behind the land reserved for The Village. And as of December, the majority of the remains unearthed from the area have been reinterred nearby.
While opponents argued Playa Vista could have shifted the course of the channel to avoid a major burial site, the revised EIR states that "impacts to archeological resources would still have occurred" in four alternatives considered and that the channel might not operate as effectively.
On the Hyperion issue, the EIR says that new data indicates "there is less demand on the city's wastewater collection and treatment system than previously projected," and that the city has conducted studies on expansion plans, if needed, after 2020.
Sugerman said officials hope the City Council will reconsider the EIR this summer, and that construction would begin in mid-2010.
FIND OUT MORE
Los Angeles city planners are accepting comments on a revised environmental impact report for The Village at Playa Vista through March 16.
Submit comments to David Somers, Los Angeles City Planning Department, Room 750, City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, 90012, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Reference file
Review the report at http://cityplanning.lacity.org/ (the link is under the "environmental" section, then click on Draft EIRs), or at these libraries: Playa Vista branch, 6400 Playa Vista Drive; Westchester/Loyola Village branch, 7114 W. Manchester Ave.; and the Marina del Rey library,
4533 Admiralty Way.
To buy a copy, call 213-978-1355.