April 30, 1998 - From the April, 1998 issue

Inside Planning: Staples Center Breaks Ground, L.A. City Hall Rehab, and more!

Soka University Expansion OK’d

The California Coastal Commission voted 9-2 to approve Soka University’s plans to expand its Santa Monica Mountains campus earlier this month. The Commission okayed an increase in buildable area from 31 to 52 acres, a maximum of 440,000 S.F. in built improvements, dedication of 456 acres of open space (of which 383 will be donated to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy), and a 100-foot buffer around the 588-acre site. Environmental groups are expected to challenge the decision.

Reg. Planning Orders Universal Specific Plan

A year after beginning hearings on the $1-billion, 3.2 million S.F. expansion of Universal Studios, the L.A. County Regional Planning Commission ordered staff to draw up a specific plan and final EIR for the project. Noise remains a hot-button issue, which prompted the Commission to request a third-party report on film and TV production-related outdoor noise generation at the 415-acre facility. Universal hopes to break ground by summer of 1999.

Staples Center Breaks Ground

Fireworks marked the March 26 groundbreaking of the new Staples Center sports arena, now rising on the site of the Convention Center's old North Hall. In attendance (and smiling) were once-outspoken arena crit­ics Joel Wachs and Rita Walters. The Bank of America issued the $305 million letter of credit for construction of the facility, expected to be open for business in the fall of 1999.

Hollywood/Highland Project Advances

Developer TrizecHahn's Hollywood & Highland project—a $350 million, 1.2 million S.F. urban entertainment/retail project and future home of the Academy Awards—is advancing. With expected L.A. Community Redevelopment Commission approval of the EIR and $90 million in bond financing for two City-owned components—the 3,300-seat Academy Awards theater and a 3,000-space neighborhood-serving parking garage—City Council could consider the project before May. If revenues from the theater and the parking facility don't cover the $8 million in annual City debt service, TrizecHahn has promised to make up the difference. The City would keep any excess revenues and retain ownership of the land. With the necessary approvals, groundbreaking for the project, adjacent to Mann's Chinese Theater and a future Red Line station, could come as early as this summer.

Downtown Long Beach Gets Specific Plan

The Long Beach City Council approved a specific plan for its Downtown, including sweeping revisions to up-to-twenty-year-old zoning provisions. The new plan provides a comprehensive vision for the 105-block Planning District 30 area for the first time and replaces the 19 existing zoning districts with eight sub-areas, each with its own development standards. Densification, mixed-use and pedestrian orientations are encouraged in many areas as are live-work units, pending approval of a live-work amendment to the City's building code.

Two CA Cities Get Brownfields Assistance

The City of Los Angeles will join East Palo Alto as a Federally designated Brownfields Showcase Community. L.A. will receive $3.3 million in federal funds for economic revitalization and clean-up of polluted urban sites. The City's Brownfields Team—whose members include the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, the CRA, the Environmental Affairs Dept. and applicable Council offices—has identified two initial demonstration sites to test strategies: a former prison site at Washington & Santa Fe, and the Goodyear Tract Industrial Park bounded by Slauson, Central, Florence and Avalon in South Central Los Angeles.

Council Moves Out of City Hall


The L.A. City Council convened in its signature marble chambers for the last time this century earlier this month. To make way for the $273 million seismic rehab and pending restoration of the historic L.A. City Hall, Council has moved its offices and chambers temporarily to City Hall East, where it will remain until 2001.

Santa Monica OK's St. John's Expansion

Santa Monica City Council approved a $270 million reconstruction and expansion of St. John's Health Center. St. John's officials still must agree to several City proposals, but the most controversial issue—placement of an emergency room entrance—has been resolved with Council agreeing to an Arizona Ave. location facing residential uses. New facilities will include a 150-room hospital, a new "health and wellness center," research facilities, and senior housing. Groundbreaking could come as early as next year.

Van Nuys Money Moves Ahead

Full funding fora Van Nuys revitalization program previously targeted for cuts, has been reinstated by the City Council's Housing & Community Development and Community and Economic Development Committees. Van Nuys now stands to receive $1 million a year for three years for quality-of-life neighborhood improvements.

New Construction Services Center Touted

The City of L.A.'s Dept. of Building & Safety, under new General Manager Andrew Adelman, completed its move to 201 N. Figueroa last month, touting improved amenities in its customer service center, as well as a new "Customer Call Center," which consolidates over 100 Building & Safety phone numbers into one, staffed by live operators.

Four Cal. Counties lead Pop. Growth

Four California counties are among the top ten fastest population gainers in the nation for the period between the summers of 1996 and 1997. Los Angeles County gained 61,623 new residents; Orange, 54,733; San Diego, 45,447; and Riverside, 33,113. California's 1.3% statewide growth rate puts it ahead of the nation, which is gaining at 0.9%, according to the Census Bureau.

Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1998

San Diego Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray’s HR 3206, the 1998 Fair Housing Amendments Act, was pulled from the House Judiciary Committee several weeks ago. But, according to Bilbray’s office, it could be back on the docket by the end of the month. The bill's stated intent is to protect citizens' and local government's rights to protest special needs housing in their communities when disproportionate concentrations would arise. The bill would also allow local government to cap the number of residents in facilities housing convicted felons or drug addicts. HR 3206 is staunchly opposed by fair housing advocates.


© 2024 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.