Residents of Oxford Triangle, a neighborhood composed largely of single-story homes north of Marina del Rey, want a proposed 2.1-million-square-foot shopping and residential complex reduced to prevent more traffic and crowding in the already congested area.
Members of the Oxford Triangle Residents Assn. are gearing up for a letter-writing campaign to express their concerns about the project to Los Angeles Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who has been representing the area since a wave of slow-growth sentiment swept former City Council President Pat Russell out of office in last June's election.
Galanter said she will wait for more community reaction before taking a stand on the project. But her planning deputy, Rubell Helgeson, said the project is too big for the area and should be scaled down.
The site is mostly undeveloped land bordered by Lincoln Boulevard, Admiralty Way and Princeton Drive. It's occupied by a repair facility for garbage trucks and trash containers, and abandoned industrial buildings, including old machine shops and metal foundries. The land is owned by Marina East Holdings, a partnership that includes state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys).
Residents say the 16-acre project, called Admiralty Place, would be an additional burden on an area that already faces massive development, including the planned 957-acre Playa Vista project south of the marina and a proposed commercial complex north of Los Angeles International Airport.
In addition, the project would be located not far from a large commercial and office complex being built in Westchester by the Howard Hughes Development Corp. It would be only a few blocks from the proposed Marina Place project, a 1.4-million-square-foot shopping, office and residential center proposed for the corner of Washington Boulevard and Glencoe Avenue in Culver City.
"I could live with something a lot less than what they have planned," said Bob Levy, a member of the Oxford Triangle Residents Assn. steering committee. "It's frightening to me. That the city could even consider any plan of that size is absolutely ludicrous."
The proposed complex would include:
380,000 square feet of residential space (between 240 and 300 units).
Three major department stores, taking up a total of 570,000 square feet.
347,000 square feet of shops in a three-level enclosed mall.
Movie theaters on the top floor.
A health club, tennis courts and other recreational facilities.
Fountains, ponds and a shallow lagoon extending the length of the property.
Residents fear that the project would bring unbearable traffic congestion to the area near Washington and Lincoln boulevards, which is considered one of the busiest intersections in Los Angeles.
Spokesmen for the developer, Birtcher Co. of Laguna Niguel in Orange County, say the project will beautify the blighted area and will ease traffic because plans call for construction of the long-awaited Marina Bypass, connecting the Marina Freeway with Admiralty Way via a bridge over Lincoln Boulevard.
Brandon Birtcher, a partner in Birtcher Co., said: "The majority of the residents we've contacted are supportive of the development." He cited plans to widen Lincoln Boulevard and build the Marina Bypass as measures to ease traffic in the area.
"That is a major benefit to the people in the community."
Burt Pines, attorney for the development firm, said company representatives have met twice with residents of the Oxford Triangle Residents Assn. and have held two open houses explaining the development. They have also met separately with representatives of the Villa Marina Council and the Villa Marina East Coordinating Council, which represent condominium owners in the Villa Marina, just east of the project.
"There has been a lot of input from the neighbors in the design considerations," Pines said, "and the architect has attempted to accommodate many of those concerns."
Tower Scaled Down
Pines said residents persuaded architects to reduce a proposed office tower at the southern corner of the site from 28 stories to 19. The architect, Allen Rubenstein of Gruen Associates in Brentwood, said there will be no direct access to the site from the Oxford Triangle neighborhood, ensuring a minimum of street parking by shoppers and visitors in the area.
But Levy said he will not be satisfied until developers eliminate all but the residential portion of the project.
"We don't need a super-regional shopping center there," he said. "I don't see the point. They're taking advantage here. They're being pigs. As they say in sports, this is 'in your face.' "
Levy said he was angered to find out that the proposal is being helped by a recent zoning change, supported by Russell when she was in office, that ostensibly had residents' interests in mind but turned out to favor developers as well. While forbidding construction of the Marina Bypass through the Oxford neighborhood, a ruling favored by residents, the change opened up the industrially zoned portion of the area to residential and retail use, such as the Admiralty Place project.
Levy said residents were unaware of developers' plans for the site when they urged the zoning change last spring.
"We've been kind of raped here," he said. "I'm hoping that reason will prevail and the project will be scaled down considerably."