Fri, Jan

Neighborhood Council Presses for Documentation on West Harbor Project

RANDOM LENGTHS REPORT-On Dec. 21, 2020, the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council voted 12-0 to request that the West Harbor project include the council in the planning process of the project, which means sharing environmental impact reports and Coastal Development Permits.

Formerly the site of Ports O’Call, the new project will have restaurants and live entertainment, and is scheduled to begin construction in mid-2021. It is being developed by Jerico Development and Ratkovich Co., which are both part of the LA Waterfront Alliance. (Graphic above: Rendering of West Harbor project.) 

Greg Ellis, board member of the CSPNC, said that at the end of the council’s Joint Planning and Land Use Committee meeting residents wanted more specifics about the state of the project’s permitting process — particularly  the size of the proposed amphitheater and the amount of noise it will generate.

“We developed this motion which simply asked that West Harbor and the [city] council office provide us with a status report and status of where they are in their permitting process,” Ellis said. “We’d like to see copies of all of the applications so that we can review just where they stand, where they think they are in the process of getting their environmental impact reports done, or getting the appropriate statements of no response.”

Ellis said that after the council receives this information, it will figure out what position, if any, it will take on the project.

San Pedro resident James Campeau said this was the best approach to communicate with the project’s developers.

“It’s kind of evident that the community is just getting snubbed on everything,” Campeau said. “They’re just going to build it and forget about any community input.”

Board member Louis Dominguez said he initially thought the amphitheater was going to be small, but it was compared to the Greek Theatre, which is bigger than he thought.

However, Robin Rudisill, chairwoman of the council’s Planning, Land Use and Transportation Committee, said the amphitheater had been downsized from some 6,200 seats to 2,200 seats.

Board member Noel Gould said the developers are attempting to piecemeal part of the project. He said the developers keep talking about a separate environmental impact report, or EIR, for the amphitheater, while basing their overall EIR on the original plan for the project, which did not include the amphitheater.

“You can’t piecemeal CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act],” Gould said. “Everything has to be considered as a whole project, even if they decided that they were going to add the amphitheater to the project later. It has to be looked at as an entire project and what kind of environmental impacts are going to need to be mitigated or what’s going to need to be changed about the project in order to make it so that it doesn’t violate CEQA.”

Rudisill had reached out to the developers even before the CSPNC passed the motion but had not made much progress. Lauren Johnson, a representative of Jerico Development, told her that the project’s Coastal Development Permit was awarded through the Port of Los Angeles. As such, the project is operating under the 2009 San Pedro Waterfront Environmental Impact Report, as well as two project specific addenda. Johnson said that all these documents are public record.

However, Rudisill has not been able to find a copy of any of the documents. Rudisill asked Johnson where these could be found on Dec. 15, 2020 and has not heard back from her.

In addition, these documents do not necessarily negate the need for further CEQA permits. If there is sufficient environmental impact, a separate EIR could be necessary, as well as a mitigated negative declaration.

Rudisill also contacted the California Coastal Commission to verify what Johnson said. Dani Ziff, coastal program analyst for the commission, told her that since the project was in the port, it had to be included in the port’s 2018 master plan. The commission reviewed the project’s environmental documentation and Coastal Development Plan for consistency with the port’s master plan and Coastal Act policies and did not appeal the project.

CSPNC is not the only neighborhood council interested in the West Harbor Project. The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Port Committee hosted a joint meeting with other Harbor Area neighborhood councils on Jan. 4, 2021 and drafted a letter asking for a community forum on the project. Port Committee Chairman Frank Anderson said his council wants to know more about the project and he believes the community wants to know more as well.

(This piece posted first at Random Lengths News.)