Taking note of complaints from nearby residents, the Los Angeles Planning Commission delayed a decision Thursday on plans for the J. Paul Getty Foundation's new museum in the hills overlooking Brentwood and the San Diego Freeway.
Although no action is expected until next month, Commission President Daniel P. Garcia hailed the project, saying it was "among the best I've seen . . . harmonizing building and terrain--something that will actually increase the value of the surrounding properties and become a landmark that will attract worldwide attention the moment it opens its doors."
"Of course, that's what the neighbors are concerned about," he added, speaking after representatives of the Brentwood Homeowners Assn. detailed their fears about traffic, noise, air pollution and destruction of their scenic views.
Other prospective neighbors said they welcomed the latest plans for the museum, which have been substantially changed since the Planning Commission approved the project in February, 1985.
Their comments came at a hearing to review the plans for the 505,000-square-foot structure, which is intended to house the new museum and six other art facilities funded by the estate of the late billionaire.
Pointing to a scale model that showed a sprawl of cube- and cylinder-shaped buildings connected by outdoor walkways around a series of fountains and a reflecting pool, architect Richard Meier said plans call for the museum complex to blend into the hills and ravines of the 110-acre site.
Capitalizing on the mild climate of Southern California, Meier said he planned the museum so that visitors would pass in and out of the various buildings in a "unique inside-outside relationship that any other museum anywhere else in the world couldn't have; not a hermetically sealed environment."
He said the museum itself will be on the eastern portion of the Getty property, overlooking the freeway, while the other buildings, which will not be open to the public, will be on the side closest to the Brentwood residential area.
Speaking for the homeowners' association, attorney Hugh J. Snow said residents had not been given enough information to judge the impact of the museum on their neighborhood.
Officials of the Getty Trust have been playing "hide and seek," he said. Specifically, they have not come up with a specific landscaping plan as required by planning officials, he said.
He also complained that it would be difficult to determine from the information available whether the buildings will fall within height limits of 65 feet, which was mandated in the conditional use permit issued more than two years ago.
Snow asked the commission to delay action on the project for 60 days, but Garcia said the issue would be decided at a hearing scheduled for June 11.
The model will be open for public view at Meir's offices, 1001 Gayley Ave., on Thursday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.