A proposed giant warehouse fought by Harbor Gateway residents who fear increased truck traffic and pollution won approval Thursday from the Los Angeles Planning Commission after a 90-minute discussion.
Only two commissioners voted against the project, said Rosalie Preston, a local resident who had helped organize neighborhood opposition to the 341,402-square-foot warehouse at 15134 Vermont Ave., on the northeast corner of Vermont Avenue and West Redondo Beach Boulevard just west of the 110 Freeway. The site has long been vacant.
Developer Prologis had reduced the project’s original size by replacing a 150,000-square-foot mezzanine with one of just 25,000 square feet. But the move isn’t expected to reduce the impact of more truck traffic on the neighborhood.
Residents were disappointed by their lack of support from government officials, Preston said.
“It was obvious that none of the city planning commissioners had visited the site in person,” she said. “Many of them remarked that it’s very important to preserve industrial usage in the city. From our perspective, the property may be zoned industrial, but it’s an outdated usage at this time with all the residential and park uses surrounding it.”
In addition, the city of Gardena, which had threatened legal action over the project’s effect on air quality, noise and traffic, dropped its opposition after quietly receiving a settlement of at least $630,000, an amount negotiated behind closed doors last month. That figure could rise to $980,000 if the 16-acre site is occupied by an Amazon Fulfillment Center or similar tenant, which would create even more truck traffic than a basic warehouse.
The city will use the money for a:
- $200,000 contribution to the city’s Juvenile Intervention Program
- $175,000 landscaped median at the intersection the project sits near.
- $50,000 monument sign at the same intersection
- $150,000 traffic mitigation fee, although its unclear exactly how that will be spent
The developer also will pay for a nearby bus shelter.
Mayor Tasha Cerda didn’t immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.
Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino, in whose district the project lies, wasn’t much help either, Preston said. Residents, who had spent weeks organizing opposition to the project and even held a recent street demonstration, only learned Thursday of his support for the proposal.
“We suspected he supported it because the chair of our (Neighborhood Council) Planning and Land Use Committee had been asking his office what his position was and they would never tell her,” Preston said.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District did manage to persuade the city to add some project conditions. They include marking a designated truck route to ensure vehicles don’t enter nearby subdivisions and mandating the use of trucks no older than those manufactured in 2010.
Richard Platkin, a retired Los Angeles city planner who has served as an adviser to local residents, said 90 percent of such projects typically receive the green light from planning officials, but this should not have been one of them.
“It’s very inappropriate,” he said. “The whole point of zoning is to have incompatible uses separated. It’s a major industrial use.”
Under the zoning, half also could be used for manufacturing, he said. Prologis has yet to identify a tenant.
The project will head to the City Council, where final approval is expected.