Planning Commissioners Ignore "Will of the People"
December 10, 2015
By Stephen Hadland
In Huntington Beach there is a shopping center that was built in 1969 and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., son of the famed American architect, to design the Westfair Shopping Center.
The center was to include a 92-foot tower resembling an oil derrick which in the early part of the century populated the landscape in Huntington Beach. It was ugly and resembled a futuristic communications tower from Star War than an oil derrick. The residents protested and the tower was eliminated from the plans.
Behind the gas station at the corner of Springdale and Warner Avenues is a 500 pound black granite tombstone (yes a real cemetery tombstone). The text on it reads: "In recognition of Lloyd Wright's 94-foot-high sign tower that was to have been erected on this spot. Its defeat is symbolic of the democratic process in which we live. The people did not wish this sign tower to be erected as they felt it was not needed and would blight their community. Their wishes were heard and adhered to by the developer, Stanley Fann. - 1970"
It remains there today. A lasting tribute to the will of the people. It is something our leaders in Culver City have forgotten.
Last week the Culver City Planning Commissioners gave Culver City residents a "slap in the face" by approving a tool store on the site of the Culver City Ice Arena. Never in recent history have residents given such an impassioned plea for the survival of the rink.
Yet Chair Kevin Lachoff, Scott Wyant, Dana Amy Sayles and Edward Ogosta totally ignored the wishes of the people and voted to allow this project to move forward. Vice Chair David Voncannon was absent so we don't know how he would have voted.
To make it clear, the owner of the property has the right to lease his property and receive a fair rate of return. The ice area paid far less than the prevailing rate due to the long term lease that was negotiated in the early 1960's.
The city council has been less then responsive when it comes to the rink. Current Mayor Mehaul O'Leary led supporters town the primrose path suggesting that he was close to a deal to have the Los Angeles Kings take over the rink. The obvious question is why would the Kings, who once were interested in the Culver City location, have any interest after investing millions of dollars in their new rink/training facility in the San Fernando Valley. The answer is obvious, they didn't.
The rink supporters deserve some blame too. They prodded the city to act claiming the rink was unsafe. Ultimately the finest experts on the subject said there was no danger. Yet the council took the easy way out and ordered the removal of the ammonia and related chemicals from the rink. They took the easy way out wand we believe they knew it.
Meanwhile Santa Monica moves forward on plans to build a facility with an indoor ice rink and a soccer field on top of it. Could it be that the city council in Santa Monica knows something the Culver City Council doesn't?
Frankly this is the time when we need leaders. Leaders like the late Albert Vera and Syd Kronenthal who think outside the box and don't just pontificate about what they cannot do. They would understand that the more we take wholesome activities away from the young people in our community the more we will have to put into police and social services.
Remembering the eulogy by Senator Edward Kennedy at the funeral services for his assassinated brother Senator Robert Kennedy, "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."
Vera and Kronenthal would ask why not. It's time for the current council to stand up and say the same.
Finally the city will reap tremendous financial benefits from building fees and sales tax revenues. Our council needs to look beyond the almighty dollar and for the good of the people.
In recent years it appears the council has decided to ignore the "will of the people" whether it be the ice rink or the huge mansions being built on Culver City lots designed for our modest lifestyle.
The issue will come before the council on December 14 and residents need to demand answers as to why the will of the people is still being ignored.
Culver City deserves no less.