City planners give polarizing Culver Boulevard project a favorable ruling

By Gary Walker and Joe Piasecki

A July 2013 rendering of the Legado project planned for 138 Culver Blvd.

The largest and most controversial development proposal in Playa del Rey has won a favorable ruling from city planners, forcing opponents to launch an appeal by Monday or prepare for a very big change along Culver Boulevard.

Critics say the height and density of the Legado project, planned for the expansive triangular parcel of undeveloped land between Culver and Vista Del Mar, would be out of character with the neighborhood.

But on March 16, Los Angeles Planning Director Vince Bertoni cleared a coastal development permit for a four-story, nearly 80,000-square-foot residential complex with ground-floor retail and subterranean parking.

Benjamin Reznik, an attorney representing Legado, said developer Edward Czuker resubmitted plans last year that responded to project critics by giving up one of what were two levels of underground parking and reducing the building’s height from 56 to 48 feet.

Underground parking is controversial, in part, because removing water for excavation could possibly disturb toxic pollutants detected underneath a former dry cleaner nearby.

Word of Bertoni’s ruling after the project appeared dormant for more than a year took many locals by surprise.

“I’m not sure how that got through with all the community pushback and environmental risks,” said Maria Reyes, who lives a short walk from the Legado parcel.

Representatives of Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who came out against the project in 2015, say he has talked to neighbors who are in the process of filing appeals and that the council office is “supporting the effort to make sure this project adheres to the area’s specific plan” for growth and development.

“While there is likely some sort of project that the community would support at this location, this project is not it. It is simply too tall and out of character with the small-town beach community feel of Playa del Rey,” Bonin wrote to Playa del Rey constituents on March 22. “My staff is still reviewing the Planning Department decision and will be working closely with community leaders to challenge this decision.”

Reznik, for one, isn’t surprised a challenge is forthcoming.

“It’s likely that there will be one, based on the area’s history,” he said.