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    Council Approves Twin Tower 22-Story 6th/Pine Lofts Development, Invites Further Density & Development Downtown

    (April 18, 2007) -- In an action Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal called precedent-setting -- and likely to invite increased density and development northward along downtown Pine Ave. -- the City Council has approved the twin 22-story 6th/Pine lofts development.PT lofts development April 17/07
    Screen save from City Council hearing webcast: View from Pine Ave. as shown in presentation by developer's architect. To see the development as shown on the developer's web site, click here. [update: website image subsequently changed]

    Approval of the development (dubbed the "Press-Telegram" project for its location at the paper's former site) came in April 17 Council votes which overruled appeals by representatives of the Wilmore City Heritage, West End Community Ass'n and Wilsonian Homeowner Ass'n and sustained Planning Commission approval (which included 120+ conditions) (6-2 vote, Vice Mayor Lowenthal and Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal voting against substitute motion by Councilwoman Reyes Uranga that didn't include additional conditions to which the developer and Vice Mayor Lowenthal had agreed].

    The Council also adopted findings of "overriding considerations" that allowed the project to proceed despite findings of significant [negative] environmental impacts [in an Environmental Impact Report] that could not be mitigated below significance...the latter on an 8-0 vote. The Council also voted 8-0 to expand downtown's PD-30 development area to now stretch up to 6th/Pine.

    The appellants in the hearing supported the development but objected to letting it proceed with less than the number of parking spaces required under LB ordinances.

    The developer, represented by a lawyer with the firm of Keesal, Young & Logan, said the project is sufficient to meet parking peak demand and cited (among other things) a study done by a firm retained by the developer which concluded that the project isn't underparked. The developer, ("Octoberfive Development, LLC") lists Jim Brophy, Ryan Heiman, and John Sevilla as its firm's partners.

    In hearing testimony, the development was supported by Downtown LB Associates (at the podium by John Morris), CSULB (to which the developer offered sixty residential units at the developer's cost, deed restricted to CSULB faculty and staff) and the Arts Council for LB and LB Heritage [to which the developer will give office space in what used to be the ground floor of the PT at 601 Pine.]

    During Council discussion, Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal advocated adopting a sweeping policy of encouraging density in downtown LB with less than currently required parking in order to encourage the use of public transportation. Councilwoman Lowenthal said she saw no inconsistency between her position on this for new developments and her recent publicized efforts [reported by] to find new parking sources for residents whose neighborhood parking [she said] was robbed by "crackerbox" apartments allowed in the 1980s. will be posting Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal's remarks separately at length and will link to them here. They transcend the project itself in their potential impacts both downtown and citywide.]

    Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal moved to approve the project with added conditions (beyond the roughly 120 forwarded by the Planning Commission) on parking and deed restrictions on units to be sold to CSULB employees to which the developer had agreed with Vice Mayor Lowenthal [regarding parking (no additional spaces but referral of future parking issues to City Hall's Dir. of Planning & Building) and deed restrictions on CSULB-designated units] but Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga made a substitute motion to approve the project as approved by the Planning Commission without the additional conditions.

    Extended discussion followed...and Councilwoman Reyes Uranga eventually "called for the question" [a non-debatable motion to force a vote...that Mayor Foster enforced] which carried 6-2.

    Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's substitute motion (approve without additional conditions) carried 6-2 [Bonnie & Suja Lowenthal dissenting]. Two subsequent votes to adopt resolutions of "overriding considerations" and amend downtown's PD-30 development area to extend to the 6th/Pine area, carried 8-0.

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