HE’S GONE – Legado Chief Operating Officer Derek Jones is no longer involved with the company’s projects in Playa del Rey.

While there will be a new executive from Legado Co. in charge of the projects that the development firm is slated to build in Playa del Rey, Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl still insists that an environmental review be conducted on all potential developments in the area.
A top executive at Legado, which is planning three mixed-use developments in what is known to locals as lower Playa del Rey, stated in the past that the company would seek a mitigated negative declaration for the projects, which is one of the least extensive forms of environmental review.
Derek Jones, the firm’s former chief operations officer who functioned as Legado’s point man for the Playa developments, is no longer with the company.
“Professional planning staff has indicated that a mitigated negative declaration would be the appropriate review for these projects,” Jones has said.
The Legado executive said a full environmental impact report and a mitigated negative declaration were “fundamentally the same,” because both environmental processes use the same checklist during an environmental analysis.
According to Section 15070 of CEQA, a negative declaration is a document that states upon completion of an initial study, that there is no substantial evidence that the project may have a significant effect on the environment, and an EIR is an informational document which will inform the public agency decision-makers and the public generally of: the significant environmental effects of a project; the possible ways to minimize significant effects; and the reasonable alternatives to the project.
“As far as I’m concerned, nothing’s changed,” Rosendahl said. “There are three projects down there that have the potential to have a huge effect on my constituents, and a complete environmental impact report is the only way to make sure that issues regarding traffic, size and density are taken into account.”
Some residents have been critical of Jones and his company’s stance on potential environmental analysis for the project area.
Rosendahl, who represents the beachside community, wrote a letter to city Planning Director Michael LoGrande in the spring regarding his concerns about the projects as well as what type of review would be appropriate.
“I am writing to urge you to require Legado Companies to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) for three projects that could have a significant and profound cumulative impact upon the small residential community of Playa del Rey,” the councilman wrote.
“I have serious concerns that the charm and unique character of Playa del Rey could be drastically altered by Legado’s projects at 138 Culver Blvd., 230 Culver Blvd. and Toes Beach, all located in Playa del Rey.”
Rosendahl’s urging of a full environmental review came two weeks after an April 19 Argonaut story cited concerns over the apparent lack of environmental analysis by Legado on the three proposed projects.
“I understand that Legado Company intends to build a 72-apartment, mixed-use project with 16,000 square feet of retail space at 138 Culver Blvd. and a 63-apartment, mixed-use project with 11,000 square feet of retail at 230 Culver Blvd.,” the councilman wrote. “This information has been stated publicly by the applicant at community meetings and was most recently published in the local newspaper, The Argonaut.”
Legado Vice President Heather Lee will soon be in charge of overseeing the Playa del Rey projects. Lee told The Argonaut that she was still getting acquainted with the developments but plans to meet with the community as soon as she can.
Jones said earlier this year that Legado hoped to begin construction by the fall but those plans are now unclear with his departure.
Robert Krauch, a 50-year resident of Playa del Rey, was pleased to know that Rosendahl still wants to have a complete environmental review conducted that will examine traffic congestion, density and air quality.
“I completely agree that there should be a full EIR for these projects,” said Krauch, who has written about the history of Playa del Rey. “What (Legado) is proposing is beyond unreasonable, and just because you change personnel doesn’t mean that there will be less congestion.”
Residents of the beachside community are still waiting to see if their suggestions regarding signage, design and streetscape will become a part of the planning document for lower Playa del Rey.
A group of Playa del Rey residents worked for over a year on a community design overlay that they hope the city’s Planning Department will include in its planning documents when the projects get underway. The resident committee’s recommendations include ideas regarding signage and architectural features for new buildings.
Parking and traffic remain the number one and number two matters of concern for lower Playa residents and Rosendahl’s office has said those will be discussed separately from the community design.
Lee wants Playa del Rey residents to know that her company is not working on a Hermosa Beach project that involves the Mermaid restaurant. Although a Hermosa Beach newspaper wrote that One Pier LLC was affiliated with Legado, Lee said they are not.
“We are not involved with the Mermaid project,” she said.
Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa President Cyndi Hench did not respond to inquiries about the need for environmental review. The neighborhood council represents Playa del Rey.