West Hollywood neighbors of the controversial 8899 Beverly Blvd. project, which extends back to their neighborhood along Rosewood Avenue, aired concerns about the impact the proposed development might have on the environment at a meeting Wednesday night.
About 30 people turned out for the state-mandated “scoping” meeting, which allowed for public input on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that must be done before the development can move forward. Residents were invited to share any issues they might have regarding the EIR beyond the standard ones that must be examined, such as air quality, geology, noise and traffic.
Townscape Partners, owner of the 51-year-old office building, is proposing an “adaptive re-use” of the 8899 Beverly building by expanding it and then converting it to a residential use with 64 units (eight of which will be affordable units). At the same time, Townscape wants to build underground parking beneath the current surface parking lot behind the building. On top of the underground parking will be 13 townhouses opening onto Rosewood Avenue, a pool/recreation center and a building of four affordable units.
“This is an invasion,” said Rosewood Avenue resident Milli Gervasi. “It’s an invasion of a community that has lived peacefully.”
Gervasi and others said the report should examine quality of life issues, noting that the construction might bring dust, noise and added traffic, possibly affecting the health of residents and their children.
“This is a unique block,” said resident Mary Miller, who lives adjacent to the project. “Our little block has 19 children in 33 homes. We’re all going to be affected.”
Drainage was also a major concern. Some residents, who noted their yards often flood because the ground water table is high in that part of town, wondered how building a 30-foot-deep underground garage might affect them.
“Where is that water going to go?” asked resident Seth Meier.
Resident Robert Goodman wondered, as did other residents, what affect 200 new residents would have on plumbing, including a cracked sewer line on Rosewood Avenue.
“We have to ‘snake’ every six months already,” said Goodman.
Residents said the report should examine removing asbestos and other hazardous materials from the 10-story-tall 8899 Beverly building.
“I’m afraid the height will make it more like New York than West Hollywood,” said resident Sherie Stark.
Doubling the size of the 8899 building, by adding 30 wraparound additions to three sides, also raised land-use concerns. A 10-story building would not be approved under the city’s current zoning codes, but the existing building is allowed as a “non-conforming building” because it predates incorporation of the city in 1984. Residents wondered if expanding the existing building is legal.
“It’s adding a non-conforming building onto an already existing non-conforming building,” said resident Rod Sprott.
Curtis Zacuto of EcoTierra Consulting, the firm hired to do the EIR, said the purpose of the document was not to weigh the pros and cons of the proposed development, rather to write an unbiased report evaluating how the development will affect the surrounding area.
“The EIR is a snapshot of what’s there today,” said Zacuto, who will serve as the EIR project manager. “We’ll then study how the project changes the area.”
Residents have until Aug. 7 to submit suggestions. A draft of the EIR will be completed in the fall. Residents then will have 45 days to make comments before the final EIR is written.
City planner David DeGrazia said the cost of the EIR is $250,000, an expense that must be paid by Townscape Partners as part of its application for the project.