Trouble on Lincoln Boulevard
Lincoln Center Rising
from the Grave
By Jim Smith
The Lincoln Center mega-development project is back for the third time.
Two earlier plans for a massive shopping center and residential complex covering two blocks of Lincoln Blvd. failed to gain support with the Planning Commission or the community.
Last May 13, the City’s Planning Commission rejected the first attempt at winning approval from the too-big project. The Planning Commission’s rejection came after a nearly year-and-a-half fight against Lincoln Center led by the Venice Community Coalition (VCC) and the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council (GRVNC). The Beachhead chimed in with numerous articles and editorials opposing the project.
Out of that fight came the Envision Venice workshop in November, 2003, which in turn led to a Community Design Overlay (CDO) for Lincoln Blvd. Whether the CDO will have any impact on the proposed destruction of the beautifully designed Lincoln Place Apartments or the not-so-pretty design of Lincoln Center remains to be seen.
Last October 2, Lincoln Center advocates Khalsa and Associates and Boston Developer Samuel Adams tried to gain support for a new design with a Venice Community Open House, but they were unsuccessful. The “Open House” had been organized by aides of Councilmember Cindy Miscikowski.
On March 27, the Venice Community Coalition, which is mainly an organization of east-of-Lincoln homeowners, issued a warning that a new permit application has been filed by the developers.
This time they have called in heavy-weight political operatives who work for the law firm of Manatt Phelps & Philips. The law firm claims expertise in winning approval for big developments: “Our lawyers play a crucial strategic role, working to secure the support of government staff, community activists, and elected officials while aggressively advocating for your projects at public hearings.”
Manatt, Phelps plays in the big leagues. Founder Charles Manatt was Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, Co-Chair of the Clinton-Gore campaign and is a former Ambassador.
On Feb. 2, Mayor Hahn appointed Manatt, Phelps attorney S. Nancy Whang to the Planning Department, creating a possible conflict of interest for the law firm.
Meanwhile, the VCC has responded by securing pro-bono lawyers of its own, albeit lower profile than Manatt, Phelps.
The other organization that played a pivotal role in blocking Lincoln Center is the Neighborhood Council. But it’s been put out of commission by other Hahn appointees in city government, and is currently not sanctioned to take action on the new project proposal.
The VCC is insisting that Lincoln Center submit an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on its project and not the flimsier Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), as it did last time.
The new project would be about the height of the original Westside Pavilion, 66-feet and covers nearly two square blocks on Lincoln from Lake Street to the alley north of Palms Blvd.
It is proposed to have 280 residential units above two stories of retail, all of which would churn out still more traffic on already-clogged Lincoln Blvd.
The developer says the project may take up to 10 years to complete. The prospect of all that dust, noise and truck traffic – across the street from an elementary school – adds to the need for a full EIR, say VCC leaders.
Posted: Fri - April 1, 2005 at 09:00 PM