By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
The Los Angeles City Planning Commission approved plans to reimagine a former Jack in the Box site on Thursday, August 27.
The project, located at 17346 West Sunset Blvd., was tentatively scheduled for August 13 after its initial hearing on July 6, but was rescheduled at the request of the city to allow the applicant to prepare materials for review and distribution to the planning commission.
Members of the public were invited to attend the meeting and offer public comment on the project. In conformity with state orders and due to concerns of COVID-19, the meeting was conducted over Zoom and telephonically.
Nick Vasuthasawat, planning assistant, began by presenting the five-story project proposed by developer Michael Aminpour, which will consist of 32,225 square feet of mixed-use development—breaking down into 39 dwelling units, 2,900 square feet of commercial retail and 49 parking spaces. Four of the residential units will be set aside for very low-income housing.
The presentation covered issues the community raised: Vasuthasawat mentioned that nearly 66 comments had been received either by letter or email, with the majority expressing opposition to the project.
Main concerns were inadequate environmental analysis, inconsistency with the Pacific Palisades Specific Plan and Coastal Act, incompatibility with the neighborhood, traffic density, and the effect on residents’ private ocean views.
“Although not popularly supported by the community, the applicant has provided materials reviewed by … staff to be in compliance with CEQA and the applicable findings necessary for the required entitlements,” Vasuthasawat said.
The planning commission then took public testimonies, where individuals made it clear that residents were firmly opposed to the project.
The Pacific Palisades Community Council had previously expressed opposition of the project at its proposed height and density in August 2019.
“The project at the proposed height and density does not comply with the relevant provisions of Public Resources Code Sec. 30251, which requires that development in the Coastal Zone be ‘visually compatible with the character of surrounding areas,’” the PPCC wrote in a letter dated August 22, 2019. “The project’s mass and scale are clearly out of proportion to all other similarly situated buildings which front the same (south) side of the street as the project, and its visual impact on pedestrians as well as nearby residences is out of character and will be significant.”
Other local entities that have opposed the project include the Pacific Palisades Residents Association, Land Use Committee and Design Review Board.
“This is an interesting case and I appreciate all the members of the community who came out, and … when we disagree with the community, it’s not that we’re not listening and that we haven’t taken a significant amount of time to review materials,” said Samantha Millman, president of the planning commission. “It’s sometimes that either the information you are providing is inaccurate or we have a difference of opinion.”
Millman spoke in favor of the project, suggesting increased density in LA’s coastal zones that is mixed-income and allows people “to live in an area of the city that … has zero units of affordable housing,” she said.
“I believe that this is contextually sensitive and this is precisely the type of development that we need to see in this area,” Millman said.
Commissioner Dana Perlman then spoke and began by expressing his empathy to the community, before stating that the developer has “more than adequately” addressed the concerns of the community and has complied with the Coastal Act.
Perlman said the planning commission has an overwhelming amount of material that supports the project, including a traffic analysis that was approved by the LA Department of Transportation, geological studies that reviewed the hillsides and more.
“There are no significant impacts … that have not been mitigated,” he said. “We need housing … all areas of our city need to be available to allow increased housing, especially housing that will allow families of different income levels to live there and enjoy the area.”
The Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted and unanimously approved the project.
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