If you haven’t already heard, the Department of City Planning is holding a hearing this coming Friday on a proposal to restart the half-completed Target on Sunset. The project was stopped by a judge because it violated the Station Neighborhood Area Plan (SNAP). The City wants to create a sub-area within the SNAP which would allow Target to finish the building as is.
For those of you who haven’t been following this long, nasty struggle, the project that Target originally proposed for the corner of Sunset and Western was in compliance with the SNAP, and it seemed like pretty much everybody was on board with the idea. Then, at the behest of city officials, Target significantly increased the height of the project, making it more than double what the plan allowed. The revised design would have also required a number of other variances. At that point, community members who had supported the original project came out against the new, larger version. They filed a law suit, and Target, inexplicably, forged ahead with construction. When the judge sided with the plaintiffs, construction screeched to a halt. And this hulking, half-finished curiosity has been sitting at the corner of Sunset and Western ever since.
Why is this happening? Local residents worked with the City for years to formulate the Station Neighborhood Area Plan. The whole idea was to create a framework for development that would stimulate growth without trashing the community. Why did members of the community invest years of time and effort into writing the SNAP if a city official can sweep it aside with a wave of their hand? (Many point the finger at then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti, who’s been pushing for taller buildings all over LA.)
Target gambled when they started construction on a project that was facing a legal challenge. They lost. Why should we bail them out? They should go back to the drawing board and create a project that complies with the law. And if they don’t want to do that, they should forget the whole thing and just sell the site.
But instead of making Target deal with the consequences of their actions, the City of LA is running to the rescue by creating a new sub-area within the SNAP. This is so depressing. But certainly not surprising. When you look at the amount of money that developers have given to the Mayor and City Council, it’s easy to see who’s really running things.
My feeling is that this is probably a done deal. The Department of City Planning is putting on a show this Friday to make it look like the public has had a chance to be heard. After the hearing is over, my bet is that they’ll approve the sub-area, and Target will go ahead and finish their building.
But don’t let my pessimistic, defeatist attitude infect you. In spite of my misgivings, I still sent an e-mail to the hearing officer to let the DCP know I was completely opposed to this stunt. I urge you to write as well, or better yet, show up at the meeting and let them know how you feel. We may not win, but we can go down fighting.
Here’s the info for the meeting.
Friday, October 2, 2015, 10:00 am
City Hall, 10th Floor, Room 1020
200 N. Spring St.
You can send an e-mail to the hearing officer at the address below. Be sure to include the case number in your subject line.
Case No. CPC-2015-74-GPA-SP-CUB-SPP-SPR
And here’s the link to the meeting notice.