Controversy In Fox Hills

Proposed Billboards Stir Debate

By Lynne Bronstein

Observer Reporter

Fox Hills may be up for a massive "revitalization" via a plan created by developers that would turn the area into a "hospitality and entertainment district."

But one aspect of this revitalization, called "creative signage" in the plan and "giant billboards" by others, is generating some controversy.

The Fox Hills Neighborhood Association (FHNA) is circulating a petition against the signage in the new master plan. The petition can be accessed at a web site set up by FHNA,

Two events have been held to introduce Culver City residents to the plan. After the Chamber of Commerce presented an initial panel discussion with the developers on March 3 the city presented an "Open House" on March 19 at the Veteran's Auditorium.

Called "405 Gateway to Culver City," this plan for a hospitality and entertainment district evolved from a November 2014 City Council meeting where the council approved a contract with PlaceWorks to conduct a visioning process for an area generally adjacent to the 405 and 90 freeways.

At stations set up in the Rotunda Room at Vet's Auditorium, residents could look at maps, diagrams, and renderings and also talk with development representatives. Stations were devoted to land use, mobility and safety, and "creative signage."

The future vision for this area is an "entry" to Culver City with "mixed-use development," a "walkable place with amenities," that will draw freeway drivers and Playa Vista residents and workers.

The signage depicted in the renderings seemed to involve electronic billboard art on sides of buildings in the gateway district.

Paula Keating, president of FHNA, told the Observer that the billboard aspect of the plan is not acceptable to the organization.

"We have been canvassing our Fox Hills Neighborhood and many residents do not want digital billboards put up," said Keating. "We have seen the presentation by Placeworks and are not against updating or improving our neighborhood.

"FHNA and most residents welcome neighborhood improvements. But in this particular situation, we don't want billboards and to our knowledge, none of the 'visioning' ideas will materialize without the billboards."

"We view 'creative signage' as an oxymoron," continued Keating. "These are clearly digital billboards and will come at a price for our neighborhood. In addition, most of the profits from these billboards will go to the developers, not to Culver City."

Keating also said that FHNA has so far not been approached to be "a part of this discussion."

The FHNA is not a homeowner's association according to Keating, but rather "an independent neighborhood association whose purpose is to be a liaison between our community leaders and our neighbors. We strive to be a trusted, reliable and comprehensive resource for the Fox Hills community. "

"Normally our association does not express specific views on local issues. In this case, we feel we must for the future good of the Fox Hills community."

Culver City Chamber of Commerce President Steven Rose affirmed the Chamber's support for the revitalization plan and refuted FHNA's charge that most of the profits from the billboards will not go to the city.

"My understanding is that [advertising revenue from the billboards] will help to pay for public infrastructure," said Rose. He pointed out that since the dissolution of the city's Redevelopment Agency (which spent 70 million dollars to redevelop the downtown area of Culver City), funds are lacking for city projects-and the monies from billboards would go to much-needed infrastructure improvements.

Rose observed that there "needs to be a lot of studying through the EIR process as well as an economic study to see what is viable."


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