Opponents of a large-scale medical and housing complex planned in West Los Angeles who argued that city leaders should re-examine potential community impacts received welcome news when the city Planning Commission requested a continuance on the proposal.
The Planning Commission voted Thursday, February 11th to postpone any decision by at least 30 days on the project known as the Bundy Village and Medical Park at the northwest corner of Bundy Drive and Olympic Boulevard.
Developer Stonebridge Holdings, Inc. is planning to construct a mixed-use project comprised of 385 residential units and 119,838 square feet of retail space on one parcel and 384,735 square feet of medical offices on another parcel at the nearly 12-acre site. A majority of the residential component, 208 units, would be dedicated for senior housing, with 77 of the total units designated as affordable. Nearly 40 percent of the project site would include open and green space.
Stonebridge Holdings President Michael Lombardi said he aims to bring two critical services that are limited in the West Los Angeles area — medical care and senior housing — with Bundy Village.
“These services are going to be needed more and more as each year passes,” he said.
“We’re trying to create a critical mass of health care delivery that could take some pressure off existing hospitals.”
The Planning Commission postponement comes after City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who has backed the project in concept along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said that he would like for portions of the plan to be scaled back. The councilman referred to a “pressing need” for medical services and senior housing on the Westside, but called for a reduction in commercial and retail space after listening to constituents’ concerns prior to the hearing.
“I share the worries of many Westside residents who are concerned about the size and scale of the project, and its traffic impacts,” he said in a statement before the meeting.
Rosendahl said he is committed to working with the developer to address those community concerns and ensure that additional traffic mitigations are in place.
Residents of surrounding communities such as Mar Vista and Santa Monica have challenged the planned housing and medical complex primarily from a traffic standpoint, noting that its environmental impact report indicated that an additional 21,000 daily vehicle trips would be added to the intersection.
Having expressed concerns on the thousands of anticipated vehicles to the area that would likely lead to “cut-through” traffic on neighborhood streets, the Mar Vista Community Council adopted a motion last month recommending that the project be downsized.
“Olympic and Bundy is almost gridlocked already and to add that many more cars to that is just outrageous I think,” Mar Vista Community Council President Albert Olson said of the estimated traffic figures.
“If the community does feel that we need a medical center and there is some need for senior housing, I think we could do that on a much smaller scale.”
The City of Santa Monica and neighborhood groups like the Friends of Sunset Park are among others who have taken issue with traffic effects associated with Bundy Village. The city is currently facing other large-scale development proposals in close proximity to Bundy Village that have also drawn complaints from residents.
In a letter to Los Angeles planners in June, Santa Monica Planning and Community Development Director Eileen Fogarty said her city is “deeply concerned” that 15 intersections in or near its boundaries would be significantly impacted with the Bundy project. Eight of those intersections are within Sunset Park, said Friends of Sunset Park President Zina Josephs.
“The FOSP Board of Directors is hopeful that the Bundy Village project will be reduced in size in order to decrease the traffic impact on our neighborhood,” Josephs said.
Others opposing the large medical and housing complex gathered at the intersection during morning rush hour two days prior to the commission hearing, waving signs to draw attention to their traffic frustrations with Bundy Village. Members of the protest group, which included residents and representatives of businesses and neighborhood councils, said they felt a sense of vindication after Rosendahl softened his support and the Planning Commission delayed its decision.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction to acknowledge that it can have a real damaging and detrimental effect not only on Westside residents but businesses,” Peter Brown of MWW Group, which helped organize the rally, said of Rosendahl’s proposal.
Though he was disappointed in the Planning Commission’s decision, Lombardi said he plans to review the recommendation and issues presented by Rosendahl before returning to the commission. He says the project has a traffic mitigation plan in place and the developer has worked with the California Department of Transportation on potential improvements near the 10 Freeway.
The project will also have access to the future Exposition Light Rail line, but some traffic effects will need to be coped with in order to receive key services for the area, he said.
“These are services that are going to be crucial to this aging population so we may need to grin and bear a bit,” Lombardi said.
Rosendahl said he would offer his full support once he is confident that the project has reduced traffic effects and has scaled back its commercial and retail offerings.
“If they can come to a resolution that is scaled back from the traffic count and has cut back on commercial and retail, emphasizing the medical facility and senior housing, then I could enthusiastically support it,” he said.