City Council Study Session — Feb 9, 2010 — Draft LUCE
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Here is a summary of the City Council discussion after the staff presentation of the Draft Environment Impact Report for the Draft LUCE on February 9th:
The consultant who discussed the “impacts that could occur” with the Draft LUCE said that traffic could exceed thresholds and mentioned four intersections that could be impacted.
Under alternative #3, “Condensed Nodal Development,” the only intersection to be impacted would be Lincoln Blvd. and Ocean Park Blvd.
Councilmember McKeown said that he had looked at the technical appendices on traffic and asked where the “sweet spot” would be between providing sufficient neighborhood-serving retail so people can walk to those services, and providing too much retail and drawing in outside traffic. Traffic consultant Jeff Tumlin said that it has to do with (a) matching job skills with affordable housing along transit corridors, and (b) the mix of services, i.e., creating balanced neighborhood commercial districts, such as that envisioned by the LUCE in the Bergamot area.
McKeown also asked if the Council could reduce jobs (i.e., office space) and increase housing without having to do another EIR. Another question was once “creative office space” is built (where people tend to work “off” hours), how could the city guarantee that the space wouldn’t be rented for regular
9-to-5 uses, which would increase peak hour traffic.
Planning Director Eileen Fogarty said that the LUCE would reduce office space by one million square feet, remove additional future office space from the boulevards, put mixed-use in the LMSD with 60/40 jobs/housing ratio in parcels over 5 acres, as a change from 100% jobs in that zone, and that the community wanted to maintain the creative aspect around Bergamot. She added that it’s a policy question for the Council, such as whether to maintain creative space around Bergamot and hospital/medical uses in the hospital zone. Most of the developments in the LMSD will be development agreements, and there will be a list of permitted uses in the zoning ordinance.
McKeown also commented regarding housing that we haven’t defined “affordable” and “work force,” so he wondered how the transportation consultants estimated traffic. The local traffic consultant said that census statistics include the number of cars owned per household. McKeown also asked when the neighborhood conservation districts would be implemented.
Councilmember Gleam Davis referred to what Tumlin called “the magic hand of capitalism” and said that developers will favor “work force” rather than “affordable” housing unless they’re clearly defined. Eileen Fogarty responded that the city currently has a definition of “affordable” housing and that the LUCE identifies affordable housing incentives, i.e., the 32-foot “by right’ height limits buildings to 2 stories. With affordable housing, the developer gets 35 feet, i.e., 3 stories. She also said that community benefits could include additional affordable housing, workforce housing, open space, etc.
Ms. Fogarty continued that workforce housing is often defined at 130 to 180% of median household income, but it gets defined in the zoning ordinances, and Council could decide on their own definition as a policy matter. The city would have to lay out the scale, i.e. 10% low income, 20% affordable, 30% workforce, etc. She also mentioned that 100% affordable projects are dealt with separately.
Ms. Davis also asked, regarding the activity centers, how Centinela and Wilshire qualified as a transit hub, since it has only east-west bus service. Ms. Fogarty said that the designation had been questioned earlier, left in for the moment, but could be removed later.
Councilmember Holbrook asked whether reducing the height limit would limit the population. The response was that one the alternatives would reduce residential by 4,900 units(?) and commercial by 160,000 sq ft. Economic consultant Bill Whitney said that SCAG has 3 forecasts, that the California Department of Finance puts out reports, and that they also used the 2005 Opportunities and Challenges Report.
Councilmember Bloom as about the heights in the Condensed Nodal Development alternative? The response was that they would be no taller, but would have more mass.
Councilmember McKeown noted that the Chamber of Commerce, S.M. Auto Dealers, and SMRR have sent the Council letters about the Draft EIR, and he’s expecting more from other groups such as SMCLC. But he suggested that the evaluation of the LUCE Draft EIR is being overshadowed by the Development Agreement “float-ups,” which are causing confusion in the community.
Ms. Fogarty suggested that the Development Agreements should be evaluated together regarding phasing and whether they match the general direction of the LUCE, and that they should be looked at cohesively, in a much broader context.
Council directed the City Attorney to bring back information regarding options for delaying action on the Development Agreements.
Comments on the Draft LUCE Draft EIR can be emailed to email@example.com and the deadline is March 8th.