A hearing has been set for February 2nd in Los Angeles Superior Court regarding the controversial Entrada Tower development proposal near Westchester and Del Rey that many residents feel will have an adverse effect on their daily lives.
United Neighbors of the Westside, a public interest group comprised of homeowners from various communities adjacent to the proposed development, are the petitioners in the case. They filed a lawsuit in May after Culver City, one of the respondents in the case, approved the Entrada Tower, a massive 12-story, 342,409-square-foot project adjacent to the site of the Radission Hotel, which is located in Culver City but within very close proximity to Westchester and Del Rey.
The tower is projected to be 176 feet high, with several levels of subterranean parking. It was originally slated to be 13 stories.
Centinela Development Partners, the group that is seeking to build the Entrada Tower, is also being sued and has not sought to pursue any building permits since the lawsuit was filed in May.
The petitioners allege that Culver City violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when its City Council approved the project in April. They contend that the environmental impact report that was certified is an inadequate document and that Culver City’s municipal government, along with its Redevelopment Agency, “abused their discretion in approving the Entrada project because their findings relating to approval, unfeasibility of mitigation measures and alternatives and overriding considerations are not supported by substantial evidence,” according to documents filed with the court.
The mitigation measures that the legal petition refers to are traffic abatements at the principal intersections that the project will impact — Inglewood and Jefferson Boulevards and especially Centinela Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard, which are already highly-traveled intersections.
The case will be heard before a CEQA judge.
“We think that this should be a pretty straightforward hearing,” Susan Brandt-Hawley, the attorney for the petitioner, told The Argonaut.
Culver City has stated publicly that the city is within its right to build a project of this size and scale and maintains its earlier position that the project will generate over $1 million annually in revenue. Its officials say that the project will bring an influx of jobs to the region during a time of economic uncertainty.
“We estimate that we will create over 1,000 high-paying jobs in Culver City,” predicted Brandon Taylor, a vice president of Centinela Development Partners, at the April 14th council meeting in Culver City.
Taylor and others calculate that, over a 15-year period, the project is estimated to bring in over $33 million dollars in tax revenues to Culver City.
Culver City officials also say traffic would be mitigated at 32 of 33 intersections affected by the development, and they expect the area around the project to thrive economically due to the possibility of attracting large-scale businesses and financial service firms.
The project was greenlighted a week after a municipal election in Culver City, in which three of the City Council candidates who had expressed grave reservations about the project were elected. Despite pleas from residents of Ladera Heights, Westchester, Del Rey and Culver City, the outgoing council passed a motion to approve the development.
Residents from surrounding communities have been keeping an eye on the case and have pledged to continue to fight the project.
Mark Redick, president of the Del Rey Neighborhood Council, reiterated that his advisory council had opposed the development and would continue to do so.
“Our opposition has not changed at all,” he said. “Unless Culver City makes significant changes that balance the needs of the surrounding communities, I don’t believe that this project will be successful.”
Diane Landis, a homeowner who lives on the Westchester Bluffs, agrees with Redick that the public interest group has remained committed to seeing the lawsuit to the end.
“There’s no question,” she said. “The support from the neighborhood has been fantastic.”
While there has been some support in Culver City for the project, others have joined the legal action against Culver City and the development group.
“It seems like we’re always fighting these battles,” says Tom Supple, a Culver City homeowner who is a member of the group that filed the lawsuit.
Supple believes that his neighborhood will be victimized by cars using the streets in Sunkist Park, where he lives, to avoid already congested major thoroughfares.
“There’s no question that Entrada is going to increase traffic,” he said.
Redick feels that few, if any, mitigation measures were considered for the communities that lie in close proximity to the development.
“Anybody who doesn’t believe that this project will have adverse repercussions on its neighbors needs a serious rendezvous with reality,” Redick asserted. “Culver City violated its own height limit when they approved this, and they did not take their neighbors’ concerns under consideration, and that’s not what a good neighbor does.”
The Entrada Tower proposal is a frequent topic of discussion in Westchester, says Landis.
“It almost always comes up,” she said. “For us, this is about people and neighborhoods and not about buildings.”
The lawsuit states that due to the actions of the Culver City government, United Neighbors of the Westside has no choice but to ask for judicial relief.
“UNOW [United Neighbors of the Westside] has no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Issuance of a writ is needed to avoid irreparable harm to Culver City residents and environs, since otherwise the Entrada project will proceed to development without compliance with CEQA and the municipal code,” the brief states. “Culver City and the Redevelopment Agency have the capacity to correct their violations, but refuse to do so.”
The petitioners are asking the court to set aside and void the approvals of the development pending full compliance with CEQA and prevent the developer from seeking to begin any construction work on the project site.
Calls to Taylor for comment had not been returned at Argonaut press time.