LAX holds community meetings on plans for 340 acres north of airport
By Helga Gendell, The Argonaut
April 26, 2012
Los Angeles World Airports has completed two public scoping meetings regarding the proposed Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Northside Plan Update Project.
The project would permit up to 2.32 million square feet of new usage for employment, retail, restaurant, hotel, education, civic, airport support, recreation, a dog park, and buffer uses on approximately 340 acres located north of the LAX north airfield.
The scoping meetings were held April 18 and 21 at St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey. The identical public meetings allowed the public to ask questions of LAWA staff, including project manager Lisa Trifiletti and various contractors affiliated with the proposed project.
Comment sheets were available for participants to list their concerns about potential environmental impacts as well as the types of retail, public use and other establishments planned for the project. The comments will be reviewed and included in the proposed draft environmental impact report (DEIR). Several individuals at the April 18 meeting said that this is the time for the community to be explicit about any environmental and other concerns so that they are included in the draft EIR.
According to LAWA documentation, the project site is located within a highly developed, urbanized area of airport, commercial and residential uses. While the majority of the project site is currently vacant, the land was previously disturbed and in some areas, paving and roads remain from previous development.
Existing development within the LAX Northside Plan Update area includes a fire station, airport support facilities, a childcare facility, golf course, and an animal quarantine facility.
The approximately 340-acre project site is generally bounded by Sepulveda Westway and Sepulveda Boulevard to the east, LAX to the south, Pershing Drive to the west, and 91st Street, Manchester Avenue and 88th Street to the north.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) initial study includes the following categories that require an EIR since they may have a "significant effect" on the environment: aesthetics, air quality, biological and cultural resources, geology/soils, greenhouse gas emissions, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology/water quality, land use/planning, noise, population/housing, public services, recreation, transportation, and utilities/services.
Those impacts found to be less than significant, such as agricultural and mineral resources, will be addressed in the "impacts found to be less than significant" section of the EIR, according to airport officials.
The proposed land use plan depicts where various land uses could occur on the project site. The specific locations of the buildings and precise uses are not yet known and will depend on future market conditions.
In order to allow flexibility for future development to respond to changing market conditions, transfer and exchanges of uses and development rights would be allowed within limited areas of the project site, not to exceed specified development, environmental and design constraints, say airport officials.
The proposed project would permit up to 2.32 million square feet of new development and areas for new recreation, open space and buffer space. Implementation of the proposed project may also include a street vacation of Cum Laude Avenue.
One aspect of this parcel includes development of a stormwater project by the city of Los Angeles Department of Public Works Sanitation Department that would intercept stormwater and remove harmful pollutants such as litter and bacteria from a 2,400-acre drainage area that now empties directly into the ocean at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey.
The project was presented to the community at public meetings in October 2008. The proposed site is on LAX property near the intersection of Pershing Drive and Westchester Parkway at Falmouth Avenue near the Jet Pets gate.
In 2008, the proposed stormwater project cost was estimated at $32.7 million, and was to be funded from $500 million in general obligation funds approved by city voters in 2004 under Proposition O. It was designed to help meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and federal Clean Water Act requirements in the Westchester-Playa del Rey area. The project has not yet begun and requires approval by the Federal Aviation Administration since it is on LAWA-owned property adjacent to the airport. It will become a watershed collection area under the surface with recreation areas on top similar to the Japanese Garden in the San Fernando Valley.
The FAA demands that all land previously acquired by LAWA for noise mitigation be disposed of or used for an airport purpose at market value. No land can be donated or dispensed at or below full value. Sanitation will be purchasing the land from the airport at full value less an offset for treating airport-generated runoff. Included in that offset would be the modification and movement of some hook-ups for the airport.
Denny Schneider, president of the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC), called the Northside Development Project a "win-win."
"The community wins because this effort substantially reduces prior approvals for building density while allowing creation of recreation areas for community use," Schneider said.
"The airport gains by generating cash to fix badly neglected airport infrastructure, and all Los Angeles city taxpayers gain because the new businesses in the area will pay property taxes, payroll taxes and increase sales tax revenue."