How much time should residents be given to read a 2,300 page Environmental Impact Report?
That’s what many residents are talking about as the Planning Commission is set to hear the Centrum Sunset project on Thursday night. The proposed new three-story, 52,000-square-foot building will replace the old Tower Records at 8801 Sunset Blvd.
The city released the final EIR on Monday, June 27, just 10 days before Thursday’s hearing. Several residents , arguing that 10 days was not enough time to read and digest the report, especially since the July 4 holiday weekend fell during that time period.
Deputy City Manager Anne McIntosh responded that city staff could not postpone the hearing once notices had been sent out about it. Only the Planning Commission can postpone or continue the hearing at this point.
Several residents living nearby, including and Elyse Eisenberg, have already petitioned the commission directly asking them to postpone the hearing until September 1 or later.
As for the release date of the EIR, Planning Manager John Keho reports that the city is required to make the EIR available at least 10 days before the decision-making body hears the case. However, since the Centrum Sunset project involves zoning changes due to proposed billboards on the building, City Council is the body that will ultimately decide this project. The Planning Commission can only make recommendations to the council.
Keho says they do not yet have a date for it to go before City Council, noting the EIR was actually released far ahead of the required time frame.
Regarding the 2,300 page size of the document, MacIntosh points out that only 800 pages of the document are new. The other pages were available as part of the draft EIR. However, Eisenberg notes that in addition to the EIR, there is also a 206-page staff report released last Thursday that residents are busy reading too.
The Centrum Sunset project proposes demolishing the old one-story Tower Records building. Tower operated its world famous record store, a landmark on the Sunset Strip, from 1970 until the company went out of business in 2006.
In its place they want to construct a three-story building with retail space on ground level, a David Barton specialty gym/spa on the second level, and office space on the third.
The massive size of the building is proving controversial. The building would block the view of the surrounding hills from Sunset Boulevard, which goes against the guidelines established in the Sunset Specific Plan—the 15-year-old document that guides development along the Strip, say neighboring residents.
Parking and traffic
The project would have 298 subterranean parking spaces on two levels. Entrances to the parking deck would be from Sunset, exits would be right-turn only onto Sunset and Horn Avenue.
The EIR estimates the project would increase traffic volume on Horn Avenue by 27 percent on weekdays (up 550 cars to 2,558) and 17 percent on weekends (up 336 cars to 2,309). Traffic on Larrabee Street, a short block away, would also be impacted.
"This level of increased traffic is unacceptable," Eisenberg said. She points out that Sunset Boulevard is often gridlocked and more traffic would only add to the congestion. Additionally, she noted adjacent residential streets will see many cars doing U-Turns to be able to go east on Sunset or Holloway.
The project proposes having two billboards – one 14-by-36-foot billboard on the southern façade and a video billboard, consisting of four separate video screens wrapping around the southeast side of the building.
These billboards would require zoning ordinance changes by the City Council. If approved, Keho says Centrum Sunset would enter into a development agreement, whereby they would pay the city a monthly fee for right to erect those billboards, as has been done with other .
The project would require 15 to 18 months of construction, during which time the adjacent sidewalks on Sunset and Horn would be closed. Lanes of traffic along Sunset would also be closed periodically to accommodate construction.
The Planning Commission meets Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in .