Residential Groups, Citing Traffic Fears, Try to Cut Size of Hughes Center Project

January 23, 1986|KENNETH J. FANUCCHI | Times Staff Writer

Protesting the "Manhattanization" of Westside and South Bay communities, a residential coalition Friday will try to reduce the size of the 69-acre Howard Hughes Center east of Marina del Rey.

The Coalition of Concerned Communities, representing 18 residential groups between Santa Monica and El Segundo, will ask the Los Angeles City Council to withdraw its approval of a tentative tract map for the center, which combines a hotel with 2.7 million square feet of office space.

Patrick McCartney, president of the coalition and a member of the Venice Town Council, said the center will aggravate bad traffic circulation on Westside and South Bay streets.

He said the coalition is equally concerned with Summa Corp.'s 900-acre Playa Vista development and other office-development projects north of Los Angeles International Airport.

'A Second Downtown'

"The basic question we are trying to pose to the City Council," McCartney said, "is whether the Westside and South Bay should be Manhattanized. The new development projects, when completed, will create a second downtown in our area without sufficient new housing or improved streets for the people who will be brought into the area to work."

McCartney said that the Howard Hughes Center, now under construction, will create 14,000 jobs. The center does not include housing.

The Playa Vista project could create 20,000 jobs. And although the project includes more than 7,500 new homes, the new housing will not accommodate the number of new workers in the area, McCartney charged.

"These projects have the potential of destroying the residential character of the area," McCartney said. "They will pollute the environment, cause massive traffic snarls and bring a high level of crime into the Westside and South Bay."

Not Conducive to Housing

Bill McGregor, general manager of the Howard Hughes Center, disagreed with McCartney's assessment: "I can assure you that our project will be several times less dense than anything in Manhattan."

He said the company is not building homes because the land is not conducive to home construction. "We are next to the San Diego Freeway and most of the project is on a hillside," he said. "The essence of good planning is to build what is appropriate on a particular piece of property."

As for traffic congestion, McGregor said the firm building the project will construct several major traffic improvements, including a direct access from the property to the San Diego Freeway.

The residential group also plans to appeal three conditional use permits Tuesday before the City Planning Commission. The permits were granted to Howard Hughes Center to serve alcoholic beverages at its proposed hotel, exceed height limits on some buildings and create a 15-acre private park.

McCartney said his coalition is planning a similar attack on the Playa Vista project, not yet under construction.

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