Calling Out Mr. Casden and LA Planners: Sepulveda Expo Project Not Ready to ‘Leave the Station’
- 15 Jun 2012
- Written by Ken Alpern
LA TRANSPO ADVOCATE - As the Expo Line ridership zooms up, and the Expo Line extends west to its Phase 1 terminus at Venice/Robertson in Culver City and the Westside on June 20, another due date is now suddenly upon us: June 18th is the end of public comment/input for the Draft EIR for the large Casden Sepulveda Project. The Draft EIR website, and the numerous presentations presented by the Casden Associates engineers and traffic experts, describe a project with several underground parking levels for over 2000 parking spaces, over 500 residential units (including 59 potential senior-affordable units) to be included in several towers that range from 7-15 stories in height, and over 250,000 square feet of residential commercial floor area (including restaurants and a possible Target store)
The land on which this project is being planned is currently zoned for industrial use and could be a prime location for commuter/job destinations such as offices, restaurants and a host of commercial and industrial uses, and is next to the future freeway-adjacent Exposition/Sepulveda Expo Line station. Because of transportation and health-related issues (it is right next to the 405 freeway), concerns about changing the zoning to allow residential use abound.
My own outlook as a grassroots advocate for improved and innovative transportation/planning policy in the City and County of Los Angeles, as an advocate for mass transit and improved transportation/mobility, and (perhaps most of all) a physician draws me to the conclusion that this site is particularly troublesome for residential use—especially for children who might live for months or even years next to the 405 freeway.
Residential living at this site has two big problems: first, as protected and ventilated as the air would be inside those apartments, the prolonged outdoor exposure of individuals (particularly children) in the adjacent outdoor open space is one that would lead to asthma and a host of other ailments in these individuals. Second, with children comes car trips—lots of car trips—for school and sports and shopping—which would greatly aggravate local and regional traffic patterns.
And with this project designated to be a transit-oriented development geared to reduce our overreliance on automobiles, it’s a fair question to ask what (if ANY) residential use should be considered at this site—because despite the likely need to scale this gigantic project DOWN because of its lack of sufficient access/egress on busy Pico and Sepulveda Blvds, and because of its impact on the traffic on those two boulevards, the need to affordable housing still exists.
There are only FOUR possible residential uses that TRULY involve a project that guarantees high transit use and reduced prolonged exposure of children to the very poor-quality air at this freeway-adjacent site: senior affordable housing, student affordable housing, limiting housing only to those who work at or within walking distance of this project, and a hotel.
It should be mentioned that this project could be one that blends well into the Pico Blvd Commercial Corridor that extends eastward to the Westside Pavilion Mall, as well as one that spruces up the Pico/Sepulveda intersection into an upscale Westside destination. Furthermore, since the future Expo Line station there likely will be the station used by regional car/bus commuters from the Valley to the Westside to the South Bay, more parking and other commuter amenities would be ideal.
But for now, the alarm bells are going off in grassroots organizations from both CD11 and CD5 (it exists at the western border of CD5 but is right at the eastern border of CD11), and the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee has passed the following motion:
“The CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee has concerns that the Casden Sepulveda Project (ENV-2008-3989-EIR, State Clearinghouse No. 2009061041) at the intersection of Exposition, Sepulveda and Pico (11122-11150 Pico Boulevard and 2431-2441 South Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles, California), as currently proposed in its DEIR, will:
1) Create inappropriate overdevelopment that is too large and is of a residential density that is out of character for the area.
2) Lacks appropriate input by, and mitigations for, the immediate and regional neighbors affected by the traffic and parking impacts of this project.
3) Not encourage the creation of transit-oriented businesses more suited to our modern economy, such as businesses that create jobs in media/technology, medical/scientific technology, manufacturing or other industries easily accessed by mass transit.
4) Not encourage the creation of a Westside Regional Transportation Center, which should include the following components:
a) A major parking structure to supplement the capacity of the structure already being built by Metro for the future Exposition/Sepulveda Expo Line station, and
b) Adequate bicycle and pedestrian amenities, and
c) An efficient bus/rail transfer station, and
d) An effective and convenient multimodal transportation facility to serve the needs of the greater Westside.
This location, at such close proximity to the 405 and 10 freeways, provides a unique opportunity for specific transportation-focused land use purposes, and to help solve our Westside transportation problems instead of exacerbating them.
Therefore, the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee strongly requests the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles Planning Department reject the requested entitlements and variances until a revised project is planned and drafted which addresses the community’s concerns about impacts, mitigations and appropriate land use.
Therefore, the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee also asks for a new DEIR alternative that has no residential component, and which includes the aforementioned Westside Regional Transportation Center as a central component of this project.”
My neighborhood council, the Mar Vista Community Council, and my homeowners association, the Westside Village Homeowners Association, have also weighed into the issues of mega-density of this project, the lack of industrial space and open space of this project, lack of transit-related amenities, and health-related issues that have led to their opposing residential use for this project.
The time is now for the Planning Department of the City of Los Angeles, for Metro, and for the Expo Construction Authority to weigh into a process that avoids the “spot zoning” that this project currently is for this land parcel and to advocate for a project with sustainable and reasonable land use to benefit this neighborhood and the entire Westside region.
And it’s time for US to weigh in, either as individuals or as part of a grassroots organization. Please send all e-mail input to Elva Nuno-O’Donnell at firstname.lastname@example.org and send letters before June 18th to:
Ms. Elva Nuno-O’Donnell
Major Projects, Environmental Review Section
City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning
6262 Van Nuys Boulevard, Room 351
Van Nuys, CA 91401
At this immediate time, this site should remain zoned as M1 (industrial use only) until a better and more suitable project can be designed—but the potential for this site to be used to benefit both the developers and the Westside remains excellent, and is worthy of both our time, thought and discussion.
(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) Graphic credit: la.curbed.com
Tags: Ken Alpern, LA Transpo Advocate, Expo Line, Westside, Casden Project, Sepulveda Project
Vol 10 Issue 48
Pub: June 15, 2012