As a revised proposal for a mixed-use development at the site of a Metro bus yard in Venice goes before the Los Angeles City Planning Commission next week, Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council members are asking that the commission consider the council opposition to the project.
Venice-based developer RAD Jefferson, LLC has proposed to demolish the existing Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus terminal facility at 100 Sunset Ave., Venice, and construct a mixed-use development consisting of 201 residential condominium units and 13,000 square feet of retail space on the site.
A land swap agreement was reached between the county MTA and RAD Jefferson for the developer to gain title to the Venice bus yard property in exchange for constructing a new MTA transportation center in West Los Angeles.
After some Venice community residents and the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council expressed opposition to the proposed project during initial presentation meetings last year, the developer chose to revisit the proposal to incorporate community input.
Some community members had expressed opposition primarily to the proposed project’s size, including height and density, and also opposed the developer’s plans to seek exceptions to the Venice Community Specific Plan in regard to allowable height and floor area ratio at the site.
RAD Jefferson then proposed various changes, including, lowering the maximum project height from 56 feet to 45 feet, incorporating a walk street, providing a 614-car garage, and decreasing the number of residential units from 225 units to 201 units.
Developer representatives have since presented the revisions to the Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee, but the committee has voted to not support the proposal on three separate occasions.
At the latest Neighborhood Council meeting Tuesday, February 21st, council members voted 14-4 to support the land use committee opposition.
“I personally believe that the land has served the public interests over the last 100 years,” Neighborhood Council member Phil Raider said. “There is a much better use for that property.”
The proposed project is scheduled to be addressed by the city planning commission Thursday, March 9th.
In a Grass Roots Neighborhood Council letter to planning commission staff, council members recommend that the commission consider the council’s opposition, which comes after “considerable deliberation.”
“The GRVNC Board hopes that the commission will find the voice of the GRVNC and the Venice stakeholders helpful in making their decision,” the letter states.
Neighborhood Council members made their decisions after “careful consideration of the considerable amount of community input” received on the proposal, the letter states.
But Robert D’Elia, RAD Jefferson principal, said the community concerns have been expressed primarily by the same small group of residents who continuously attended the meetings in opposition.
“I’m disappointed that the GRVNC has paid very close attention to a small group of community members who have been very vocal in their opposition to the project from the first day it was introduced,” D’Elia said.
RAD Jefferson has “put a lot of community benefits behind the plan,” but the Neighborhood Council has not wavered in its opposition, despite the changes that were made, D’Elia said.
While the developer still seeks an exception to the community specific plan for the 45-foot height, RAD Jefferson has “dropped the height substantially” from the original proposal, he said.
Other changes include a “pedestrian pathway” or walk street through the project, retail frontage along Main Street, additional parking, and an affordable housing component, in which 167 units are market rate and 17 units are affordable to very-low-income residents, he said.
“We’ve done a lot of things to respond to what they’ve (GRVNC) asked for,” D’Elia said.
Neighborhood Council member and land use committee co-chair Challis MacPherson said she was originally concerned about the size of the project but now supports the plan after the revisions were made.
“Personally, I think it’s a pretty good project,” MacPherson said. “It’s not as dense as it could be and there’s a ton of parking.”
The city planning commission is expected to make a decision on the proposed Venice bus yard project at its meeting Thursday, March 9th.