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Second phase of Playa Vista up for commission consideration

December 9, 2009 |  4:08 pm

After years of legal delays, the Los Angeles Planning Commission on Thursday will again weigh the merits of the second and final phase of Playa Vista, a 111-acre expansion that would include housing, shops, office space and parks. The Village, as it is known, would be built between Playa Vista's two existing residential developments.

The community, about two miles inland from Santa Monica Bay between Marina del Rey and Westchester, is home to an estimated 6,500 people. Plans call for 2,600 additional homes, 150,000 square feet of retail space and 175,000 square feet of office space, along with four new parks. 

The project was originally approved by the city in 2004, but opponents sued, saying the environmental impact report was flawed. The 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the report did not adequately analyze the potential effects on land use, archaeological resources and wastewater. In May 2008, the city was ordered to vacate the approvals and revise three sections of the EIR.

That revised EIR has been completed, and the approval process is beginning anew. The city's planning staff has recommended approval of the necessary plan amendments and zone changes to allow the project to move forward.

Bud Ovrom, deputy mayor for economic development, said: "Typically, we support our professional planning staff's recommendation." He said the city was particularly interested in seeing that the retail portion move forward. Developers of Phase 1 office buildings, he said, have found it difficult to lease space because of the lack of amenities, such as restaurants and a grocery store.

"If you want a true sustainable community, you really do need the retail component," he said.

Rex Frankel, a longtime opponent of Playa Vista, contended that the proposed project was too big and dense. He said Playa Vista should increase the amount of affordable housing and parkland.

Playa Vista officials say they anticipate further legal challenges if the City Council ultimately approves the project. Still, they say they could begin construction by the end of 2011.

-- Martha Groves