A Los Angeles city administrator this week gave the developer of a proposed mini-mall in Venice 30 days to work out a compromise with neighbors, who want the project scaled back because they fear that it will bring more cars to an already congested area.
Developer Werner Scharff wants to build the two-story mall in the 2900 block of Lincoln Boulevard, between Garfield and Van Buren avenues. Plans call for a second story to be added to an existing row of stores on the site and for the back of the property to be used as a parking lot.
"We feel it would be further commercial encroachment into our street, which is not in the spirit of what we're trying to do in Venice," said Judy Abel, a Garfield Avenue resident. "We feel we've been dumped on."
Zoning Administrator James Crisp said he opted for the compromise arrangement to avoid prolonging the debate through lengthy appeals to the Los Angeles Planning Commission and the City Council.
Some of the 45 residents who attended a zoning hearing Monday said they doubt that a compromise can be worked out, since traffic on Lincoln Boulevard near Washington Boulevard is already among the heaviest in the city.
Traffic is expected to worsen if several proposed commercial-residential projects nearby are approved. An 823,000-square-foot mall called Marina Place is planned for a lot across the street from the proposed mini-mall, and the nearby Oxford Triangle neighborhood is being targeted for a 2.1-million-square foot shopping and residential complex called Admiralty Place.
Farther south, Howard Hughes Properties plans to develop the massive, 957-acre Playa Vista project. If approved, the complex will include 8,800 homes, 2,400 hotel rooms, 6 million square feet of offices and nearly 1 million square feet of commercial space.
"We do think the impact on traffic is going to be negative in an area in which there is already far too much traffic," said Rick Ruiz, spokesman for Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter. "We're very concerned about the loss of residential units in the area."
Scharff, the developer, said members of his staff plan to soon meet with the residents to work out a compromise.
Legal No Longer Enough
"Whatever has to be worked out will be worked out," he said. "You always have to compromise on everything. That is the name of the game nowadays. . . . Even if you have all the rights in the world, it doesn't help you any."
Abel said there are already several mini-malls in the area and expressed concern that another mall would attract speeding cars and drug dealers.
She said residents will ask the developer to prohibit automobile access from Garfield or Van Buren avenues, where children often walk to nearby schools. The residents will also ask that no restaurants be allowed in the mall and that businesses close by 11 every night, she said.
"We're concerned about transiency and crime," Abel said. "We don't want this to be a great place for people to sell drugs."