At a July 6 City Planning hearing about the mixed-use, commercial/residential building proposed for the old Jack-in-the-Box site on west Sunset, various residents and community organizations spoke out in opposition.
Project opponents included the Palisades Design Review Board, the Pacific Palisades Community Council, the Pacific Palisades Residents Association and the Edgewater Towers Condominium Association (lawyer and residents).
Thirteen people expressed their dissent during public comment. No one from the community spoke in favor of the massive building during the virtual meeting.
Michael Gonzalez, a city lobbyist hired by the applicant, California Food Managers, LLC — whose principals include Beverly Hills investors (Masoud) Michael Aminpour, (Farshad) Dan Ashoori and Jack Farshi, told City Planners that they were requesting waivers of height and FAR.
The five-story building, 60’9″ high, will have 39 condo units and 49 parking spaces comprising 32,225 square feet. The ground floor will have about 2,900 sq. ft. for commercial uses and a retaining wall will be built into the slope between the project and Edgewater Towers (built in 1963, with 148 units, up to eight floors in four buildings).
In August 2019, the Community Council wrote that the proposed plans violated the Pacific Palisades Commercial Village and Neighborhoods Specific Plan, which limits buildings to a maximum of two stories at 30 ft. with a floor area ratio (FAR) of 1:1. visit: https://www.circlingthenews.com/community-counci…-oppose-proposed/).
In asking for the waiver, Gonzalez pointed out that four of the apartments will be leased to very low-income residents.
“The area is 900 feet from Gladstone’s,” Gonzalez said, “and heavily developed.”
He failed to point out that on either side of the proposed building on Sunset Boulevard are one-story buildings that include a small strip mall, a building that houses Palisades Electric, and Vons grocery store and parking lot.
Across the street is the one-story building that houses Juicy Ladies, the Bunker building (now the Rockwell), which is six stories and set back in the hill (with 16 residences), the Sunset Coast Plaza building (17383 Sunset) that is three stories and houses the Bay Club and offices, and the Chabad that fronts onto the entrance of Los Leones State Park.
“You will hear this is out of character for the area,” Gonzalez said, but he noted that the proposed building doesn’t affect any natural land forms, and the two condo developments (One Coast—53 luxury residences at 17331 Tramonto and the 29-unit Sea View Condos at 17325 Castellammare on the hillside behind Juicy Ladies), are coming on the market.
Edgewater Towers, which is on the land behind the proposed building, have set the pattern for larger developments and the tone for the character of the area, which he called “urban and developed.”
Gonzalez also addressed the lack of parking spaces. “There is ample parking along Pacific Coast Highway,” he said.
“We have tried to work with Edgewater,” Gonzalez said, noting that they are still open to suggestions and want to maintain good relations with the neighbor.
Attorney for the Edgewaters Condominiums, Thomas Donovan, dismantled Gonzalez claims in a letter he had sent to the City, as well in the minute and 30 seconds he was allowed to speak during public comment. He called it an oversized project and pointed out it violated the Palisades specific plan.
His comments were reiterated by the next 12 people, with one person calling it a “spot” development [the only one of its kind in the area] and more than one telling the City “the community is unanimous against this project.”
Joanna Spak, who represents that area on the Pacific Palisades Community Council, referred the City to an August 25 letter sent by the PPCC in opposition of the project: “Comment at all meetings was overwhelmingly negative, with the community clearly expressing opposition to the project at the proposed height and density.”
On July 3, a second letter was sent stating “In light of the minimal changes to the applicant’s submitted plans, Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) reiterates its position on the above-referenced application as expressed in its letter of August 25, 2019.”
Robert Flick, who spoke for the Pacific Palisades Residents Association, said the group opposed the project and felt an environmental impact review was needed. The group’s letter was also in the file.
The Pacific Palisades Design Review Board also opposed the project and those objections are on file.
In a July 2 letter to the City, the Edgewaters’ lawyer noted that the geological studies were inadequate, the proposed rooftop space would adversely affect residents and parking would be inadequate, causing increased street parking demand and increased traffic congestion.
Gonzalez told the City Hearing Planner that a traffic study had been done two years ago and no significant impacts were projected; that the building is consistent with zoning allowed by the city; that builders were allowed residential development within a quarter of a mile of the ocean because the project had commercial on the ground floor; and that they were following the parking code prescribed by the City.
The City Hearing Planner’s finding will be presented at the next hearing in August. Comments may still be made to Nick Vasuthasawat but make them succinct. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-978-1250.
“four of the apartments will be leased to very low-income residents”
I attended one of the hearings re this project and we asked Mr. Gonzalez what was meant By the term “low income resident”—he did not use the “very” qualifier. It is not Section 8 housing. It is a person defined by yearly income of about $45,000. He said, “perhaps a new teacher at PaliHigh”. Gonzalez said that a city office provides a list of these “qualified units” to potential renters. The landlord of the building checks the applicants qualifications and rents to them. When asked “do they keep vetting the renters income level every year?” He shrugged with a “don’t know”. How long are they designated low income? Didn’t know. And IMO, not really his problem. It’s just a “law” that allows the developer an end run around local building codes and community standards.