Council Takes Step To Develop Transit Zone
November 14, 2012
Public Hearing are Planned
The City Council has taken the first step toward development of the Washington National Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zone surrounding the Culver City Expo Line station.
An ordinance was introduced at the Council meeting Monday night that will amend the Culver City zoning map to allow development of the site, known as the “Triangle Site,” where Washington, National, and Venice Boulevards intersect.
“Working with CalTrans and the City of Los Angeles, we’ve been able to analyze the project,” said Community Development Director Sol Blumenfeld. He described the project as “medium–scale” with a great deal of open space, office/retail development, landscaping, “pedestrian focus,” “wide, tree-lined sidewalks,” a “dramatic transit plaza,” and even a “boutique hotel.”
Blumenfeld said there will be a series of public hearings in Los Angeles and Culver City regarding the specifics of the project.
The City recommended that the zoning code be amended without the Council needing any additional environmental information.
The amendment is necessary to the zoning code to ensure that the TOD is used for its intended purpose. Due to the dissolution of the City Redevelopment Agency in January, former Culver City Redevelopment Agency real property may be subject to seizure by the State for sale and use.
“This gives us more protection so if the State is deciding to take the property from us to sell on the open market, it would be severely limited. We are going to set the rules,” said Council member Mehaul O’ Leary.
A public hearing on the introduction of the ordinance was opened and promptly closed as there were no speakers signed up.
Mayor Andrew Weissman asked Blumenfeld about height requirements. Blumenfeld noted that during the October 4 Planning Commission hearing on the proposed TOD, the Planning Commission recommended that the project be allowed to exceed the usual required height limit (although only in cases where it would be necessary to accommodate the design of structures).
Meghan Sahli-Wells said she supported the project but “I wouldn’t be a fan of exceeding height limits.” She wanted to make sure that “we don’t get a big box.”
Weissman proposed two motions: one to amend the zoning code, and a second to approve the exception to the height limit for design purposes.
The first motion passed with five ayes. The second (height limit exceptions) motion passed with four ayes and one no from Sahli-Wells.
The approval of the overall project was remarked upon by each Council member in enthusiastic terms. O ‘Leary expressed hope that the hotel would have a rooftop pool with a great view of the whole city. And Jim Clarke praised the plan as “a very innovative framework,” but added “It’s a trapezoid, not a triangle. It has four sides.”
“It used to be a triangle,” said Blumenfeld.