A massive development in Culver City proposed by the Prudential Insurance Co. of America would cause unavoidable "substantial adverse changes" in traffic patterns and air quality, according to an environmental impact report (EIR) released Monday by the city Planning Department.
The Marina Place project would create 33,000 to 38,700 extra vehicle trips per day and would affect 10 intersections near the 18-acre project, which would be located in a narrow section of western Culver City surrounded by Venice.
In addition, Marina Place and 15 other development projects planned in the vicinity during the next several years will have a "significant cumulative adverse impact" on the area's roadways, the report stated.
Impacts on air quality, which would be created for the most part by emissions from extra vehicles traveling to the site, cannot be reduced to an acceptable level "unless the project is significantly reduced in scale," the report stated.
However, the project would increase employment and housing opportunities and generate property-tax and sales-tax revenue for local government and increase money spent in surrounding communities, according to the report.
Drafted by the city and Rosenow Spevacek Group Inc. of Santa Ana, the report is the latest prepared in response to development requests from Prudential, which has proposed and withdrawn two other large projects for the site since 1984.
Prudential's current plan includes a 955,000-square-foot complex including offices, retail shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities, along with 500 housing units of 1,000 square feet each on a site bounded by Washington Boulevard, Walnut Avenue, Zanja Street and Glencoe Avenue.
The project would include a 12-story office building, a 715,000-square-foot shopping mall, 27,000 square feet for restaurants and a 10-screen movie theater seating 2,500 patrons. It would be built in two years.
Easing Traffic Flow
The city's report recommends improvements to eight of the intersections affected by the project to ease traffic flow. Prudential would be required to start a traffic-management program to promote ride-sharing and use of mass transit.
The report also states that portions of Washington Boulevard, the Marina Freeway and nearby streets should be widened. To make way for increased traffic, the report recommends that parking be prohibited on portions of Washington, Lincoln and Venice boulevards, as well as on some residential streets near the project site.
A $1-per-square-foot fee charged to new non-resident developers by the city can help pay for the traffic mitigation measures, the report said.
In addition to traffic and air-quality impacts, the project would add to noise in the area, increase demand for police, fire and other city services and cast shadows on some single-family homes next to the site, the report said.
The report also analyzed four alternatives to the proposed project, rating all of them as "environmentally superior" to Prudential's because they would be smaller and not generate as much traffic, air pollution and noise.
The alternatives included a three-level retail shopping center, a smaller retail center, a residential and commercial center with 1,000 housing units and a retail center with 258 housing units. None of them included office space.
Prudential faces several governmental hurdles before it can start to build the project. The city must amend its General Plan to change the parcel's land-use designation from industrial to commercial. That designation also would permit building of housing units.
Prudential also has to convince the city to change the zoning of the project site from commercial/light manufacturing to a planned district.
Last summer, Prudential scrapped a plan to construct five office towers at the site because of the adverse traffic impacts predicted in another environmental impact report. The proposal also was opposed by Venice residents.
The company later put together the plan for a combination residential, commercial and office complex, which company officials said would cause fewer traffic problems and would be more acceptable to residents.
The first of two planned public hearings on the report will be held by the Planning Commission on March 25 at City Hall, 9770 Culver Blvd.