April 19, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

BUNDY VILLAGE: ZONE OF CONTENTION

The website of the proposed Bundy Village and Medical Park (http://www.bundyvillage.info)
envisions a happy oasis where children frolic in a fountain while Seniors stroll tree-lined paths en route to doctor’s visits. All this while creating good jobs – and shopping too!

Of course, the opposition websites predict a traffic nightmare that will ensnarl the entire West Side in gridlock. One site vows to Stop Bundy Village (http://stopbundyvillage.com),
while the other merely urges visitors to Fight Bundy Village (http://www.fightbundyvillage.org).

THE PLAN

Bundy Village was first proposed in 2002, by developer Stonebridge Holdings. The concept has evolved a great deal since then. As it now stands, Bundy Village and Medical Park would convert a 12-acre parcel of land near Olympic Blvd. and Bundy Drive, previously zoned for “light industrial†use, into a commercial complex featuring medical facilities, condos, retail space and parking.

The plan calls for two buildings described (by Stonebridge) as “world class medical office and research facilities.†Opponents note that this description could include almost anything, so pending a tenant list, it’s impossible to predict just who will open up shop. However, some have resorted to what are arguably scare tactics, raising the specter of a psychiatric treatment center, even though there is no such plan.

The plan also includes 385 condominiums. Of these, 208 are reserved for Seniors. 62 units are designated “Moderate Income.†None of the units are designated “Low Income,†another point of contention for the opposition – though some homeowner and neighborhood associations have traditionally opposed nearby construction of low income housing or even multiple unit dwellings of any kind.

The scale of the retail space (and associated parking) was recently curtailed enough to chop three stories off the development’s central building when Stonebridge made tweaks to the blueprint, an effort to address opponents’ concerns about traffic. There was never much chance this would allay those concerns, however, because it’s the medical portion that nearby residents fear will generate even worse congestion on already clogged local streets.

The project’s Environmental Impact Statement predicts the number of area car trips each day will increase from about 34,000 to around 54,000. Sixty-five percent of those additional trips would be to and from the proposed new medical facilities. A Brentwood Community Council rep testified before the Los Angeles City Planning Commission that without their support, by-right development of the medical buildings would be limited to about a quarter of the current plan’s scale. He likened this discretionary quadrupling to jamming a size 12 foot into a size 6 shoe.

The southern edge of Brentwood is a mile north of the Bundy Village site, but the BCC and allied groups representing adjacent communities in places like Mar Vista and Santa Monica maintain that further exacerbating gridlock on the I-10 and on nearby surface streets will have a cascading effect. The BCC’s letter to the Planning Department gets specific:

“Currently, the gridlock on the I-10 freeway forces drivers onto surface streets such as Pico Blvd., Olympic Blvd., and Santa Monica Blvd. These streets become gridlocked as well, which forces drivers to reroute their trips further north onto Wilshire Blvd., Montana Avenue, San Vicente Blvd., and Sunset Blvd., all of which are in Brentwood.â€

This is the heart of the matter. The campaign against Bundy Village is about traffic. The neighborhood groups have attacked on multiple fronts – including the developer’s definition of “open and green space†as including rooftop areas – but while there would inevitably be criticism, flat-out opposition to Bundy Village would not exist without the traffic issue.

The traffic is bad. Numerous nearby intersections are already at capacity or beyond, especially during rush hours. Bundy Village would add more intersections to that list, and thousands of additional car trips to the area’s daily load. However, Stonebridge has laid out an extensive plan for mitigating traffic impact, including an Adaptive Traffic Control System, Traffic Demand Management with enforceable targets, rideshare matching, transit passes and parking cash-outs for employees, on-site grocery delivery – and even shuttles between other local job sites and the prospective Exposition Light Rail Transit Line station planned for the location.

Compare and contrast the reports from dueling traffic engineers retained by Stonebridge and rival developer Kilroy Realty Corporation. Kilroy has an office nearby and, unmoved by the shuttle offer, has allied itself with the neighborhood associations. Curbed LA (click here to view) even published photos of Kilroy executives picketing alongside protesters at Bundy & Olympic. There have been some raised eyebrows over Kilroy’s involvement, perhaps due to Kilroy’s 2002 campaign against another rival company’s project in El Segundo. Kilroy went to court and backed a referendum to overturn the city council’s approval of that project, but the measure was defeated and a judge ordered the company to pay court costs for the other parties.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

Kilroy isn’t breaking any laws, nor are the neighborhood associations. Developers like Stonebridge want to make money, and neighborhood associations want to protect property values. Ultimately, both sides keep one another in check. The efforts of Bundy Village’s detractors have brought about significant changes in the plan. While falling short of satisfying the plan’s opponents, those changes impressed the Planning Commission as sufficient improvements to warrant unanimous approval of the project at its March 11 meeting. Commissioner Diego Cardoso said: “If we want to build a city based on mitigating every traffic trip that is generated, then we will never build a livable city.

Bundy Village is still far from a done deal. Next up are Planning and Land Use Management Committee hoops to jump through, and City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl (he represents the district in question) favors further downsizing before letting shovel hit dirt. Depending upon the types of medical facilities, state health agencies may also get involved. Stonebridge will need to drum up construction financing in an economy barely emerging from recession, and will likely face more appeals (or lawsuits) from the Stoppers and Fighters.
An artist's rendering of the street view of the proposed Bundy Village.
An aerial view of the 12-acre site, with the new development spliced in.
The proposed medical facilities will comprise the biggest part of the project.
Traffic is at the heart of the opposition to the project.

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