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Mixed-Use Casden Project Built on Collaborative Effort

August 22, 2004

The invective in the letter "Casden Project Proceeds With City Council's Help" (Letters, Aug. 15) grossly mischaracterizes the city approval process and ignores facts reported repeatedly in the Los Angeles Times over the last several months.

As the news sections have reported, the approval process at every stage was a collaborative effort between community and business representatives, city officials and my office. The last-minute allegations in the letter demean the hard work of the many individuals from the Westwood community who negotiated the final agreement in good faith.

The final agreement negotiated by the community is a less dense, less tall, better designed, mixed-use project that preserves historic Glendon Manor, keeps Glendon Avenue open and includes a public paseo that will encourage pedestrian traffic. Westwood Village merchants will benefit from a new supply of two-hour free parking. Community representatives identified these issues and successfully advocated for them with the backing of my office.

The Times has covered my actions regarding this project extensively.

Specifically, on Jan. 12, after the indictments in the criminal case had been issued, The Times quoted my position on the project: "The developers ought to go back to the drawing board and take the community with them."

On Feb. 13, The Times reported that my appearance before the City Planning Commission caused that commission not to approve the project, and reported that I told the commission, "In my view the plan put before you is not appropriate to be approved."

Several meetings between the community and the developer, mediated by my office, ensued.

On March 12, The Times reported that my office "helped broker a compromise between community activists and ... Casden [that] laid to rest most of the key issues."

Following a hearing before the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee on July 21, The Times reported that "community activists and the developer resolved a final divisive issue ... [which] put to rest the largest remaining controversy [relating to the project]."

Indeed, this article quoted a longtime opponent of the project: "I feel good," said Laura Lake, co-president of Save Westwood Village, which had challenged the project. Weiss, aided by his staff, "hung in there for the community," she said.

Finally, on Aug. 19, The Times reported that the council approved the project after the project "muster[ed] such wide-ranging support."

I have been steadfast in my support of the community with respect to this project. Any suggestion that I acted improperly is false, and The Times' news reporting bears this out.

Jack Weiss

Los Angeles City Councilman

5th District

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