A proposed project for the construction of 35 townhomes and 4,000 square feet of commercial or retail space at the site of what is known locally as “Toes Beach” in Playa del Rey has some community residents concerned about potential environmental and community impacts.
Representatives from Sea Glass Holdings, LLC, project developer, and other project spokespersons appeared at a town hall meeting Wednesday, December 1st, in the Westchester Municipal Building to inform residents of the proposed plans and to receive public feedback.
Tim O’Brien, Sea Glass representative, said the Newport-Beach-based developer purchased the privately owned property at 6719-6823 Pacific Avenue, in August.
“Our intent was to have a small residential project,” O’Brien told the residents. “This is a small community and we’re mindful of that.”
Derek Jones, a land use attorney representing Sea Glass, said the project proposes building 35 townhomes at the site.
The project also calls for 4,000 square feet of commercial space adjacent to the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Culver Boulevard, which may be divided into 2,000 square feet for a restaurant and 2,000 square feet for specialty retail, he said.
“It makes a lot of sense and it is a relatively residential use,” Jones said. “We want it to be as truly residential as possible.”
The project site covers about 3.3 acres, but the beachfront would remain open, with about 1.5 acres remaining as open space, O’Brien said.
At a maximum height of 36 feet, the project complies with city zoning and building laws, Jones said. The typical residential unit would cost about $1.65 million and have 2,500 square feet, he said.
The units would be situated side-by-side along the beachfront on both sides of the beach access and rise two stories above partially-subterranean private two-car garages, according to Donald Getman, project architect.
One hundred twenty-eight parking spaces, including 70 for residents, 31 for guests and 27 for patrons, would be included in the project.
A major concern expressed by residents is a potential impact to traffic at the site, but project representatives said there would be no significant changes to traffic.
A comprehensive traffic analysis at the site concluded that the level of services “will not worsen” at the area’s four intersections, Jones said.
Members of the community are also concerned about the effect to the environment and sand dunes located at the site, and requested an environmental impact report (EIR) for the project.
The developer has conducted initial studies into the environmental impacts but has not done an EIR, Jones said.
The lack of an EIR has upset some project critics, including Save Our Dunes, an organization of local residents that claims that an EIR should be a primary objective.
John Hughes, a Save Our Dunes representative, said the “Toes Beach” dunes are some of the last remaining coastal dunes in the area.
When asked by Hughes which residents want to see the Playa del Rey dunes disappear, no members of the audience raised their hands.
Some potential impacts to the area with the project would include the loss of rare coastal dunes and a change in character of the recreational area, he said.
“This is like a neighborhood under siege,” Hughes said. “We want to acquire the land and put it in public trust.”
Other concerns by community members included a potential blocking of present views by the new townhomes for existing residences.
One resident said 90 percent of his view would be cut off with the development.
“This is my community and this is a community family,” a woman resident told the developers. “We do not need any more commercial property.”
The “Toes Beach” property was privately owned for 25 years before it was sold to Sea Glass, and the developer’s vision is to create a project that will enhance the community, O’Brien said.
“Our full intent is to build on the property and to have a high-quality project,” he said. “We want to put forth the best project we can.”