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Developer Revises Project on Westchester Bluffs

March 16, 1989|JULIO MORAN | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Councilwoman Ruth Galanter and a community advisory group have reached agreement with a developer on revised plans to build homes on the Westchester Bluffs between Loyola Marymount University and the San Diego Freeway.

But the new plan is being opposed by another community group that is calling for preservation of the parcel as open space.

New Proposal

Howard Hughes Realty Inc. originally proposed subdividing two parcels totaling 42 acres on the bluffs and building 205 homes. But opposition by Galanter and the community group in February, 1988, resulted in rejection of those plans by the Planning Commission staff.

Hughes Realty appealed that decision and worked with residents to reach a compromise. The result is the new proposal calling for 142 homes on nearly 23 acres.

The Hughes Realty land is divided into two parcels. In the original proposal, one development, between Dunbarton Avenue and the bluffs, included lots for 85 homes. Under the new proposal, 52 homes would be built. The other parcel, between Kentwood Avenue and the bluffs, originally had 120 homes, but 90 are proposed under the new plan.

The Planning Commission will hear Hughes Realty's proposal today in City Hall, Room 350, 200 N. Spring St.

Effect on Wildlife

The bluffs overlook the proposed Playa Vista project, a massive planned mixed-use community being developed by a Howard Hughes subsidiary with two other companies.

Residents and Galanter had objected to the developer's original plans to grade the top and face of the bluffs, and to fill in ravines to provide additional lots for homes. Opponents said the project would have destroyed a wildlife habitat and the stability of the bluffs and would have created too much additional traffic.

In the revision, the developer has agreed not to alter the face of the bluffs and to provide landscaping to enhance and expand the natural environment.

The planning staff is recommending that the Planning Commission approve the revised plans.

Although Galanter and the advisory group were not totally satisfied with the revised plans, both said they were able to support the project because of the changes.

"Through these revisions, the subdivisions have become environmentally sensitive," Galanter said in a letter to the Planning Commission.

Study of Traffic

The advisory group also asked for further study for more efficient traffic flow, and that signal light and stop signs be placed at specific intersections.

But a new neighborhood group, Save Our Bluffs, has come out in opposition to the project and is calling for the property to be kept as open space.

Spokeswoman Marilyn Cole said the advisory group does not represent the position of the majority of residents. The advisory group is made up of residents appointed by former Councilwoman Pat Russell and by Galanter, who defeated Russell. Cole submitted a petition with 500 signatures to the Planning Commission, asking that the revised plans be rejected and that the city explore ways to obtain the land, including eminent domain.

"We believe it is premature to make any decision concerning this subdivision until all aspects are properly considered, and that further studies be made by the planning department," Cole said. "To do otherwise ensures appeals and invites possible lawsuits."

The Coalition of Concerned Communities, a group representing 14 Westside community groups, also supports Cole's position.

Rick Ruiz, a spokesman for Galanter, said preserving the site is idealistic and that the city could not afford to buy the land, which could be worth as much as $1 million an acre.

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