More than a hundred concerned neighbors filled the El Marino Cafetorium, on Tuesday, April 17, 2019, crowding the book covered tables to the front of the room. The Book Fair was for the kids at school that day; the meeting was for the community to get a first look at a proposed 175 room hotel that Sandstone Properties, a Los Angeles based real estate developer, is proposing for the corner of Jefferson and Slauson in the Sunkist Park neighborhood of Culver City.
The project’s architect, Steve Nakada, began the meeting at 7 pm and gave a slide show of what the hotel may look like, how access would work, and noted that the 208 parking spaces in the plans would be used for both guests and employees.
The site is currently occupied by a single story grey stucco strip mall dating back to the 1970’s and the proximity to both the 405 freeway and the Sunkist Park neighborhood makes it a somewhat unusual choice for hospitality. Questions from the audience were focused mostly on traffic and parking.
Nakada said “I live in Pasadena, near the Rose Bowl. I really do understand issue of traffic in the neighborhood, and we are working with the city to create a plan that will make all this workable.” Ceding the point that the planned 24 month construction period would be the most challenging for the neighborhood, he noted again that the city would be involved in traffic mitigation.
But residents of Sunkist Park recalled that multiple traffic studies done by the city in the early 2000’s, where many meetings were held in the very same school, did nothing to help. One woman who spoke from the floor said “If you remember what a lot of fuss there was, how these traffic studies, that went meeting after meeting and month after month, they were really going to make a difference – nothing happened. I mean, absolutely nothing.”
Also brought up from the audience was the safety factor of a pipeline running under the alley behind the address.
The proposed 122,000 square foot hotel is scheduled to include a restaurant and a bar, and will offer one fourth of the space for public use.
From one neighbor’s perspective, “They had many features and design ideas intended to protect the adjacent residential neighborhood, and they acknowledged that the studies that would validate those ideas had not been completed (traffic, parking, light and shade, noise, vibration, etc). The city was asked to post those studies on its website once received so that neighbors can review them. The planner from the city said he couldn’t promise that but would look into it.”
This was the first community meeting from Sandstone, which is required to hold three meetings before bringing the project back for approval with the Planning Commission.
Further meetings will be announced.