A revised proposal of a local developer to construct a mixed-use development at the site of a Metro bus yard in Venice is still not what the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council land use and planning committee wants.
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 10,000 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 MTA 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 land use committee expressed opposition to the project as proposed in late October, the developer chose to revisit the proposal in order to incorporate community input.
“We provided revisions to the plan that occurred from all of the community input over the last number of months,” said Jerry Neuman, an attorney representing RAD Jefferson.
Community members had expressed opposition primarily to the proposed project’s size, including height and density, but were also concerned about increased traffic and not enough affordable housing units.
Some residents 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.
The Neighborhood Council and its land use committee supported a motion in October that any future proposed projects at the bus yard must meet a list of 16 specific conditions.
RAD Jefferson representatives said then that they would consider the proposed conditions and try to accommodate the community recommendations.
Developer representatives presented a revised proposal at the land use committee meeting Wednesday, January 4th, and outlined the various changes planned, including development height, density and parking.
But land use committee members were still not convinced that the revised proposal is in the best interest of the community and voted unanimously not to support the project as presented.
“We’re not happy with the project as presented,” said Challis MacPherson, land use committee co-chair.
The land use committee will recommend that the Neighborhood Council not support the project.
Some of the developer’s proposed changes include lowering the maximum project height from 56 feet to 45 feet, the inclusion of a walk street, providing a 614-car garage, and lowering the total number of residential units from 225 units to 201 units, of which 167 are market rate, 17 are affordable to very-low-income residents and 17 are “workforce” units, for sale to local residents employed in healthcare, public safety or education.
While some changes were made to the development’s parking and affordable housing components, the developer still has not met a majority of the conditions proposed by the Neighborhood Council, MacPherson said.
“It’s still too big,” said MacPherson, adding that the 45-foot height challenges the community specific plan.
Neuman said it is difficult to meet all of the proposed conditions because some are “competing” interests within the community, but the developer has tried to make the plan as acceptable as possible.
RAD Jefferson still seeks an exception to the community specific plan for the 45-foot height, he said.
Neuman said that although the developer has not met each of the proposed conditions, he was disappointed that the land use committee didn’t acknowledge the changes that the company had made.
“We hoped that some of what we had given up would be recognized,” Neuman said. “We’ve done a great job in trying to meet what the community wants.”
But some land use committee members said the proposed project remains unfit for the Venice community.
“I don’t think it serves the greater good of the community,” land use committee member Stan Muhammad said.
The committee voted to not support the project based on the response from community members at the meeting who were against the plan, Muhammad said.
“We’re here to serve the stakeholders,” he said.
Neuman said the developer held meetings to receive additional community input and made “substantial” changes to the plan based on the comments.
The proposed project is scheduled to be addressed by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission Thursday, January 26th.
As part of the agreement with MTA, RAD Jefferson must begin construction on the new MTA facility in West Los Angeles by Saturday, April 1st.
Construction on the proposed development at the Venice bus yard cannot begin until the new MTA facility is built, Neuman said.