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Revised Report Shows Impact of Culver City Mall : Development: Culver City plans hearings early next year on the Marina Place project opposed by the city of Los Angeles and the Venice Town Council.

November 19, 1989|NANCY HILL-HOLTZMAN | TIME STAFF WRITER

A revised environmental impact report for a controversial regional shopping center at Washington and Lincoln boulevards was released by Culver City this week, but it is not expected to move the city to reduce its 1-million-square-foot size and attendant effects.

The report was mandated by a judge after the city of Los Angeles and the Venice Town Council filed suit seeking to block the project last year.

Superior Court Judge Kurt Lewin did not require Culver City to revoke its preliminary approval for the Marina Place shopping center and theater complex, comparable in size to the Westside Pavilion.

According to the developers, the mall would be anchored by a Nordstrom and a Bullock's. The $159-million project would have 4,632 parking spaces.

Although the report compares alternative sites for the mall and alternative uses for the property where an abandoned manufacturing plant now sits, the developer has every intention of going forward with its original plans, spokesman Carl Haglund said Wednesday.

"The purpose of this work was not to change the project at all," Haglund said.

The Culver City Council, which approved the zoning changes needed for the mall by a 4-1 vote, must approve the final project after public hearings on the new environmental impact report.

Deputy City Planner Carol De Lay said the public comment period will be open until Dec. 15, with public hearings after the first of the year.

Haglund said the developers hope to open the complex in the fall of 1992.

Opponents can attack the adequacy of an environmental impact report, but lawyers for Culver City and Los Angeles said Los Angeles lacks legal standing to block or pare down the project, despite its effects on neighboring communities.

"Los Angeles has no authority over us," said Culver City City Atty. Joseph Pannone.

Pannone said it would be "unfortunate" if Los Angeles, as it has previously stated, refused to allow traffic flow improvements to be made in its city limits, which nearly surround the stretch of Culver City where the shopping center is proposed.

Rick Ruiz, press secretary for L.A. Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, described the impact of the proposed development as "a quantum leap in gridlock," which Galanter will continue to fight as long as it adversely affects her district.

According to the environmental impact report, five intersections on Saturdays and one at weekday rush hours would be significantly impacted even if all mitigation measures were enacted. On Saturdays, they are the intersections at Washington and Lincoln boulevards, Venice Boulevard and Walgrove Avenue, Washington Boulevard and Walgrove Avenue and the San Diego Freeway northbound Sepulveda ramp. The San Diego Freeway southbound ramp at Sawtelle would be clogged on both weekdays and Saturdays.

During weekday peak traffic, 22 of 30 studied intersections would be operating at levels above capacity, according to the report. Currently, only two of the 30 are at that level of gridlock.

Despite intense criticism, Developers Prudential Insurance Co. and Marina Simon Associated Limited Partnership have refused to budge on the size of the shopping center, which its detractors predict will bring dire consequences to the already impacted area.

Galanter and the Venice Town Council wanted the size of the project, which is expected to produce nearly $12 million for Culver City coffers in its first 10 years, cut in half. The community group filed suit claiming that the traffic jams would hamper beach access.

Former town council president Dell Chumley, a party to the lawsuit, said in an interview: "Until somebody speaks to reducing the size of the project, the ultimate answer isn't in."

Neither Chumley nor Galanter had read the voluminous document released late Wednesday.

Nor had Steven Gourley, the lone Culver City council member opposed to the project. Gourley said yesterday it will have a "catastrophic effect" on one side of Culver City and a "disastrous" effect on the immediate Marina del Rey and Venice area.

Although Gourley said he argued Culver City "owes a duty to the whole region" not to build such a giant project, many residents of his city said Culver City might as well seize the opportunity to impose on Los Angeles before the reverse happened at another site. "Los Angeles does it all the time," Gourley said.

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