Playa del Rey: Coastal Commission supports improvement project for former residential area near airport

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Posted January 17, 2013 by The Argonaut in News
A project to beautify the land where a residential subdivision once stood west of Los Angeles International Airport has received the approval of the California Coastal Commission.
The commission voted Jan. 10 to approve with conditions a coastal development permit for Los Angeles World Airports to improve the visual appearance of a portion of the ecologically sensitive El Segundo Dunes area near LAX. The 48.25-acre area includes the remnants of the former Playa del Rey residential subdivision known as Surfridge, bounded by Waterview Street, Rindge Avenue and Napoleon Street to the north, Pershing Drive to the east, Sandpiper Street to the south and Vista del Mar to the west.
Under the project, LAWA, the city agency that operates LAX, is proposing to remove abandoned streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, retaining walls, foundations and above-ground utilities from the old residential lot, in an approximately four-acre area. Airport crews would also repair curbs and gutters along Vista del Mar, and replace non-native, invasive plants with approximately six acres of native coastal dune and coastal prairie vegetation.
The dunes area at one time included about 800 homes but the airport purchased the properties in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the airfield expanded.
“If LAWA’s application is approved, then we anticipate requesting our Board of Airport Commissioners on Feb. 19 to give us authorization to put the work out to bid,” said Michael Feldman, LAWA’s deputy executive director for facilities management.
The project is phased to include removal of the most visually intrusive remnants, but not all of the prior residential structures. The replanting will be done in the proper season for the native plants, airport officials said.
The area is considered the largest remaining coastal dune fragment in Southern California, airport officials noted.
Coastal Commission staff recommended that the landscaping work be compatible with habitat restoration within the nearby El Segundo Blue Butterfly preserve. A qualified biologist or landscape architect with expertise in dune restoration is requested to prepare the plan.
Once construction gets underway, the project is expected to take approximately eight months to complete.
When completed, LAWA will monitor the site for a period of time and conduct regular weed abatement, sand stabilization and erosion control as needed.
Airport officials said that due to the location of the work, there will be minimal noise and traffic impacts to neighboring residential areas, and minor traffic impacts may affect Vista del Mar during the replacement of curbs along the east side of the street.
The LAX Master Plan Stipulated Settlement Agreement established a specific budget of up to $3 million for aesthetic improvements to the dunes area.

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