An Update on the Century Plaza Hotel
As you may have seen in the news, the developer of the Century Plaza site has come up with a new proposal for the site. The developer has begun showing the design to various neighborhood groups and expects to officially file the plan with the City in the next few days.
First, the good news – in fact, the very good news: the historic Century Plaza Hotel will be saved and restored! The initial proposal for the site called for tearing down this landmark which would have been a travesty. The new plan goes in a completely different direction and instead makes the restored hotel the centerpiece of the site – as it should be.
The new plan also proposes significant additional development on the site. Now that we have the developer’s plan for the remainder of the site, the next stage of the process begins, as the community takes part in a process of comment and review. An environmental impact report and a traffic study will be prepared, and every aspect of the proposed project including traffic, infrastructure, compliance with the specific plan, shade/shadow, etc., will be open for review.
Councilmember Koretz notes, “I invite – indeed, I strongly urge – neighbors of the project to become involved and to evaluate what has been proposed, and to share ideas, questions and opinions. I have not given any approval to the proposed project – in fact, we are just starting to take this all in regarding this newly revealed proposal. We need to review the project, its impacts, and its relationship to the Specific Plan. No decisions have been made, nor are we even remotely close to making any such decisions – that will not happen unless and until the community has had its chance to weigh in and help us formulate our position.
“I am thrilled about the saving and restoration of the Century Plaza Hotel – this has always been my top priority. The rest has yet to be decided, and I look forward to a healthy process involving vital community input.”
The proposal has not yet been submitted to the Department of City Planning, and when it has been submitted, Councilmember Koretz and his office will work with the Department to make certain that all the project information is available for public scrutiny and comment.
Don’t Fall Into the Gap
Sparks fly as workers cut the rebar from the Sunset Bridge; pieces of the bridge will be captured by the loaders below. The concrete will be crushed and reused in the project and the rebar will be recycled. Photograph Courtesy of Metro © 2010 LACMTA
The southern half of the Sunset Bridge over the 405 Freeway has been successfully demolished, as part of the overall project to widen the northbound 405 through the Sepulveda Pass.
When work on this bridge is completed, the expanded, seismically enhanced Sunset Bridge will be widened by approximately 30 feet. It will contain additional lanes to improve area traffic flows, and its columns will be repositioned to accommodate the additional freeway lane created by the project.
With the temporary absence of a southern half, traffic now crosses over on the remaining northern half of the bridge, which currently has two lanes going in each direction. Once a new southern half to the bridge has been constructed, the northern half will be demolished and replaced.
Meanwhile, preparations for demolishing the northern half of the Skirball Center Bridge are being made, with no dates yet set for the actual take down. Some adjustments have been made in response to communications from the local community, city council and city departmental offices. To improve traffic flow across the bridge, there will now be two lanes (not one) crossing westbound, with one going eastbound. Credit goes to Metro for thinking outside the box: to make room for a second westbound lane, they came up with the solution of removing some of the existing sidewalk used by pedestrians, and replacing it with temporary sidewalk that is placed to allow for more roadway.
You can get updates on these parts of the project and all other construction and traffic aspects of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project by visiting http://www.metro.net/projects/I-405/ or signing up to receive e-mail updates by sending your name and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A view of the Sunset Bridge on the first night of demolition. Photograph Courtesy of Metro © 2010 LACMTA
Creating Jobs and Boosting the L.A. Economy
Last Friday, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved several initiatives in order to stimulate the city’s economy during tough times.
The Council waived the business tax for the next three years for businesses that come into the City of Los Angeles and make more than half a million dollars in annual gross receipts. Smaller businesses were also granted tax relief through the extension of a current tax break until December 31, 2012.
Advocates for these efforts said that these actions will make Los Angeles more competitive with other cities, and that 55,000 jobs might be created as a result of passage. Susan Bursk, President & CEO of the Century City Chamber of Commerce, noted that, "The Century City Chamber of Commerce supports the business holiday tax to encourage new businesses to come to L.A. and create new jobs, and also asks our elected officials to look at incentives and ways to recognize those existing businesses and companies who have paid taxes to the city for many years."
Councilmember Koretz said that passage sends a message about Los Angeles that “the city is becoming more business-friendly."
Westside Subway Extension Update
The Westside Subway Extension is one of the most important projects aimed at meeting L.A.’s current and future transportation and environmental challenges while easing some of our worst traffic woes.
When it’s completed, the Westside Subway Extension promises to transform the Westside and our entire region. The subway is intended to provide a high capacity, high speed transportation option serving local residents and the 300,000 people from other parts of L.A. County who commute to the Westside every day to get to work.
A crucial step in the process for the Westside Subway Extension is the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR). The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority – Metro – is now nearing completion of the Draft EIS/EIR and is aiming toward its release by early this Fall.
Once it’s released, there will be significant opportunity for public scrutiny and comment. (Throughout the process, there has been substantial community input about the project.)
For more information about the project, please visit this Metro link: http://www.metro.net/projects/westside/.
Understanding Your City Government – sometimes it ain't easy!
(First in an occasional series)
What Are Final Maps?
Above is a typical Final map item as seen on a Council Agenda.
Have you ever glanced at a City Council Agenda?
One item you may see on many agendas is "Approve the Final Map and Accept the City Engineer's Report." What may not be obvious is that these development projects are already approved and sometimes already built!
To understand how this works, you have to know about a state law known as The Subdivision Map Act. The Subdivision Map Act regulates the process by which a parcel of land is divided into multiple parcels – either one parcel is divided into multiple homes/businesses or a single address is divided into multiple condominium units (the latter being more common in Los Angeles generally and CD 5 in particular). The Subdivision Map Act is designed to protect home buyers through the orderly subdivision of land with proper recording and disclosure of the asset being created. It is designed to protect local government by protecting the infrastructure – requiring, for example, the payment by builders for such improvements as street repaving, tree planting and sidewalk widening. The Subdivision Map Act also protects communities by applying the Zoning Code and General Plan to every new subdivision – Councilmember Koretz and his staff review every proposed subdivision carefully to assure that neighborhood needs and concerns are met and that out-of-scale development is not allowed to proceed forward.
The Subdivision Map Act requires both a Tentative and a Final map explaining the proposed division of land or of a building converting to a condominium style of ownership.
The City’s review of the Tentative map is a discretionary action by the City, meaning that the City can choose to approve or deny the map based upon the evidence, testimony, General Plan and Zoning and any other information from the public hearing on the map.
The Final map is a different animal – its review requires merely “ministerial” action by the City. This means that the City is no longer evaluating all of the substantive aspects of the project but instead merely reviewing whether or not fees are paid and appropriate procedures have been filed. If so, the City must approve the Final map. This can be frustrating because sometimes projects (through the Tentative map) are approved long before the Final map is ready for review (and sometimes even by a prior Councilmember for the area): the Final map may appear at a time when there is a different view of the particular project. Still, the law is the law and Council cannot deny these final maps.
Because the acceptance of Final maps is a technical matter, the state allows the City Engineer to be responsible. Nevertheless, the State requires the City Engineer to report to the Council (after-the-fact) that Final maps have been accepted, and that is why you see agendas littered with Final maps despite the fact the development has already been debated and approved.
Saving Lives, Helping People
Paul Schulz, CEO of the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles,
briefs Councilmember Koretz during a recent tour.
Councilmember Koretz was recently privileged to tour the Los Angeles regional headquarters of American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles, who do so much good on their own and in conjunction with cities such as Los Angeles, most notably in times of emergency but also when preparing for things that may occur down the line. A knowledgeable and effective working relationship between the City of Los Angeles and American Red Cross means many saved lives during a major crisis.
The accomplishments of this organization and its staff and volunteers are extraordinary, and growing.
Last year, the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles:
- trained 97,452 people in CPR, first aid, aquatics and water safety courses
- trained 24,447 people in community disaster education
- trained 8,587 people in California Child Care, Nurse Assistant Training, disaster preparedness and other Red Cross Health and Safety courses
- responded to 266 wildfires, home fires and other emergencies
- provided 47,165 meals/snacks during disaster relief operations
- administered 15,414 nurse assistant certification tests
- served members of the Armed Forces and their families in many ways, including with emergency services
Those are but a few of their many major achievements accomplished just in the course of last year.
For information about becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles, visit the volunteer website or contact them at email@example.com or 1-866-548-8226.
City Council Supports Resolution Regarding Santa Monica Airport
A low flying jet on approach to Santa Monica Airport.
Santa Monica Airport may most directly affect Council District 11, but 5th Council District neighborhoods east of the 405 freeway also suffer from low flying aircraft on approach to this airport, which has had a 20-fold increase in jet operations in recent years.
Neighborhood activists from CD 11 and CD 5 have called attention to Santa Monica Airport’s noise impacts, air pollution levels, potential effects of emission, and safety questions. Accompanied by many of these activists, California State Assemblymember Ted Lieu came to the City Council to call for the Council’s support for Assembly Joint Resolution 41, which calls on many federal agencies and legislators to work collaboratively to review airport noise levels and safety, to enlist the help of expert scientists to study the emissions, and to establish and implement reasonable minimum distances between aircraft operations at this airport and the neighboring communities. Assembly Member Lieu mentioned that Santa Monica Airport has the closest proximity to residential homes of any airport in the nation. The City Council approved the Rosendahl-Perry motion supporting Assembly Joint Resolution 41.
Councilmember Koretz stands with Councilmember Bill Rosendahl
and Assemblymember Ted Lieu at a neighborhood rally protesting
Santa Monica Airport pollution.
PRT is Pretty Interesting!
PRT vehicles at Heathrow Airport. Photo courtesy of ULTra PRT - www.ultraprt.com.
Councilmember Koretz is always looking for ways to address traffic congestion and make our airports work more efficiently. That’s why he introduced a motion to study how Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) might be used to move people around Los Angeles International Airport and connect them to the City’s transit system.
PRT uses small automated vehicles on fixed guideways to transport people to their destinations. Some transit advocates are passionate about this technology, pointing out that it will soon be deployed in London’s Heathrow Airport. The technology is under serious consideration in other cities here in California and around the world, including in San Jose where city officials are evaluating various PRT proposals for possible linking of their international airport with local businesses, hotels and other regional transit options.
Councilmember Koretz also wants a broad review of PRT's full potential, as some proponents argue that PRT is an efficient form of mass transit and would be quicker and cheaper to build, less expensive to operate and provide faster travel than various other public transportation options.
A Net Gain
Julie Watt, Tournament Coordinator, stands with fellow Bruin Councilmember Koretz.
Recently, the U.S. Tennis Association held its 16th Annual Kids Day and the L.A. Tennis Open on the UCLA campus, right here in CD 5. Each year, working significantly with Boys and Girls Clubs, the U.S. Tennis Association invites children of all ages to enjoy a free day of drills and training at UCLA’s world class tennis facilities. This year, Councilmember Koretz joined them out on the court to encourage their involvement in youth athletics. “Athletics have always had a substantial impact on the community and will continue to help guide youth in a positive direction. By promoting and developing the growth of tennis, and reaching out to give young people a very positive and memorable experience, the USTA has contributed to a healthier and more active society throughout the nation and here in our community,” Councilmember Koretz said.
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