Bowing to community pressure and the demands of Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the City of Los Angeles Planning Department has agreed that Seaglass Holdings, LLC will be required to prepare a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a proposed development at the area known as Toes Beach in Playa del Rey.
Rosendahl, who pledged last year to force an EIR for the project, said he was pleased that the developer had consented to the study, which will examine potential traffic and environmental impacts for the proposed mixed-use project.
“I am very happy to have fulfilled my promise to the people of Playa del Rey,” Rosendahl said. “This is a great victory for the community.
“Because of its location, this project must be thoroughly examined before going forward.”
In the fall of 2004, developer Seaglass Holdings proposed building 35 townhomes and 4,000 square feet of commercial space at the northwest corner of Pacific Avenue and Culver Boulevard, at what locals call the “Toes Beach Dunes.” The land is privately owned and zoned for such use.
But because the property has been vacant since the late 1980s, some residents of Playa del Rey said they assumed the site was public property and off-limits for development.
As a result, the development proposal met with opposition from some neighbors and environmental groups concerned with potential traffic impacts and loss of open space and coastal habitat.
The developer claimed that potential environmental impacts could be reduced to less-than-significant levels by imposing mitigation measures, through a document called a Mitigated Negative Declaration.
However, Rosendahl and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa argued that a full EIR was more appropriate. Late last week, after months of pressure from community activists, neighborhood groups, Rosendahl, and the mayor’s office, the developer consented to the EIR.
“We strongly believe this is a project that makes good sense for Playa del Rey,” said Tim O’Brien, of Seaglass Holdings. “It’s compatible with the surroundings, and it’s dramatically less intense than many of the other uses that are allowed by the zoning of the site, like apartments or a hotel.”
Neighborhood activists who have been working to stop the project hailed the news of the EIR.
“The Save Our Dunes Alliance is pleased to learn about the decision to move forward with a full Environmental Impact Report for the Toes Beach Dunes and by the opportunity to glean very important information on the impact of the project on both the dunes themselves and on the neighborhood as a whole,” said John Hughes, a co-founder of Save Our Dunes Alliance.
Rosendahl said he would work with the Save Our Dunes Alliance and other local leaders to continue to look for a combination of public and private funds to purchase the property from Seaglass and keep it as open space.
The city Planning Department plans to issue a Notice of Preparation this week, inviting public comments about the scope of the report.