ALPERN AT LARGE - While it’s known by just about anyone who’s ever studied the City of Los Angeles that rule-breaking, rule-skirting and rule-violating are more the norm than the exception (a norm that some folks might reference as a paradigm called “corruption”), every once in a while something new happens to surprise even the most cynical of CityWatchers. In this case, it’s the Casden Developers pushing for a major zone tract change and a slew of variances without even completing its legally-mandated EIR process.
Fortunately, the neighborhood notification process is also legally-mandated but not so avoidable, so those of us who got this stunner of a newsflash can now spread the alarm (and it IS being spread like wildfire) throughout the Westside:
Before releasing the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), and without responding to the comments made by the community to the Draft EIR (DEIR), and against the urgings of CD5 Councilmember Koretz’s office, the Casden Developers are pushing for a major zone-tract change and slew of associated variants for its Westside development (next to the future Exposition/Sepulveda Exposition Light Rail Line station, and at the intersection of Pico/Exposition/Sepulveda) at a Planning Hearing scheduled for Wednesday, December 5, 2012.
Of course, these are the same Casden Developers who tried to slam through its DEIR with very little initial outreach earlier this year before the community raised an outcry.
Of course, these are the same Casden Developers who have a sordid history of influence peddling and political pay-to-play in the City of Los Angeles.
Of course, these are the same Casden Developers who have a dreadful relationship with the two Westside Council Districts (CD11 and CD5), as well as the Exposition Construction Authority building a light rail line next to the property that the Casden Developers wish to build upon.
Of course, these are the same Casden Developers that know darn well that the 538-unit development and 260,000 square feet of retail planned at this location by Casden is just so huge (I like to reference a former MVCC Boardmember’s description of this project as a “Godzilla” of a development) that everyone with a planning degree, a transportation degree, or even a shred of common sense knows it’s unworkable from the outset.
That the EIR process is being thwarted is almost certainly prima facie evidence that this project is just too darned big for this land parcel—which is a real shame, because this location (as well as the Pico/Sepulveda intersection) is an excellent location for some development because of its proximity to the Expo Line, Pico and Sepulveda Blvds, and the I-405 and I-10 freeways.
But a tall glass of beer on a hot, sun-parched day is not the same as getting a case of beer slammed down your throat, which is what this project clearly is to all who’ve watched it evolve over the past few years.
I’m not the only one that would like part or all of this land parcel to be utilized to create a Westside Regional Transportation Center to accommodate the intermodal transportation connections that would be well-suited for this strategic location, but unfortunately the land is owned by one of the most ruthless, uncompromising developers in the City.
And connected. Oh, yes, Casden and his clan are very-well connected.
So it’s hoped that any bypassing of the EIR process is fought by the community and by the political powers that be, and disallowed by a Planning Commissioner who respects that EIR process.
Many of us Westsiders also dread a future 13-2 City Council override of the Planning process by a City Council that’s “influenced” by Mr. Casden and his money, so it’s also hoped that during this political season we can see the mayoral, CD11 and other political wannabees fight this dreadful breach of Planning protocol and law.
The hearing will be at the West Los Angeles Municipal Building Hearing Room (Room #200) on Wednesday, December 5 at 10:00 a.m., at 1645 Corinth Avenue (Santa Monica and Corinth), Los Angeles, CA 90025.
Yes, it’s during a part of the day that most of us who work for a living are really unable to attend—but it’s our neighborhood, our quality of life, and our future that’s most directly impacted by the size and manner that this development is being inappropriately slammed through.
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and 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.)-cw