More than a year after first appealing for an environmental impact report (EIR) for a proposed mixed-use development at what is known as “Toes Beach” in Playa del Rey, a group of community residents will get what they requested.
Developer Sea Glass Holdings, LLC, has proposed to construct 35 townhomes and 4,000 square feet of retail space on a 3.3-acre site at 6719-6823 Pacific Ave., Playa del Rey.
When the project was first proposed at community meetings in December 2004, many community members said they were opposed because of potential environmental and community impacts and requested a complete EIR.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl supported the community effort during his campaign and pledged last year to force an EIR for the project.
After months of pressure from community activists and city officials such as Rosendahl and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Sea Glass Holdings agreed in late March to prepare an EIR for the proposed project.
The developer claimed that potential environmental impacts could be reduced to less-than-significant levels through a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) document, but Rosendahl and the community wanted an EIR, Sea Glass representative Tim O’Brien said.
“We were confident in the (MND), but if it meant taking it to the next level to satisfy the concerns of the community, then so be it,” O’Brien said.
Rosendahl said he was pleased that the developer has agreed to the EIR, which will examine potential traffic and environmental impacts for the proposed project.
“This is a great victory for the community,” Rosendahl said.
“Because of its location, this project must be thoroughly examined before going forward.”
The Los Angeles City Planning Department sent out a notice of preparation for the environmental impact report Friday, March 31st.
A public scoping meeting for the community is tentatively scheduled Tuesday, April 11th, — at a location yet to be determined — where city planning representatives will explain the environmental review process and take comments regarding the scope of the EIR.
When developer representatives first presented the plans to the community in December 2004, they said the intent was to have a “small residential project.”
“We entered into this project with the real belief that what we were proposing was a suitable use of this property,” O’Brien said.
But many community members expressed concern about various potential impacts, including traffic and the loss of rare coastal dunes located at the site.
Save Our Dunes, an organization of local residents, was among the neighborhood activists that requested that an EIR be prepared to examine the potential impacts.
John Hughes, a Save Our Dunes spokesman, said the group is excited that its request will finally be made.
“We’re very pleased that we’ve been given the opportunity to glean the scope of the environmental impacts of the proposed development and the effect on the community from a traffic point of view,” Hughes said.
Hughes has said the Toes Beach dunes “are a significant part of the nature of the neighborhood,” and Save Our Dunes wants to acquire the land to put in public trust. The group has also proposed a land swap with the developer.
The EIR process will allow the community more time to provide public input, and to try and acquire the necessary funding to purchase the property for public use, Hughes said.
Rosendahl said he plans to work with Save Our Dunes and other local leaders to continue looking for a combination of public and private funds to purchase the property from the developer and keep it as open space.
O’Brien said he expects that the EIR will provide a “full disclosure” of any and all potential impacts of the project.
“We look forward to concluding the environmental review phase of the project during the next couple of months, and getting to a hearing on the merits,” he said.