(Dec. 13, 2007, initial text, update to follow) -- LB City Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske and City of LB Environmental Officer Angela Reynolds testified personally, the City of LB submitted written materials and multiple Lakewood Village (LB) residents spoke in opposition to a conditional use permit, backed by Lakewood City Hall staff, that would add a gasoline service station to the planned Costco anchor store at Lakewood Center Mall.
LB city officials and nearby residents objected to the "mitigated negative declaration" proposed by Lakewood City Hall staff to justify the gas station, saying an accompanying "traffic study" prepared by a consultant hired by the Mall's operator was flawed and underestimated real traffic impacts.
"The trip generation for the project is considerably underestimated. The methodology used by the consultant to calculate the number of project trips essentially double counts the trip adjustment factors for the project, says a Dec. 11 letter submitted on behalf of the City of LB by Ms. Reynolds and Planning & Building Dept. Director Craig Beck. "This flawed methodology results in the gas station component of the project actually receiving more trip credits than it generates thereby canceling out membership store trips," it adds.
The City of LB's letter said Lakewood City Hall also failed to provide legally adequate notice (and documents to the City of Long Beach) as required under the CA Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
In her in-person testimony, Councilwoman Schipske reiterated the legal issues about notice...and added that in this matter, Lakewood City Hall hadn't acted as a good neighbor.
LB City Hall asked that the intersections of Clark/Arbor Rd., Clark/Centralia, Clark/Carson and Lakewood Blvd/Arbor Rd be analyzed to determine if project impacts are present and if mitigation measures are necessary.
The City of LB's letter cites a CA Supreme Court case holding that an EIR [Environmental Impact Report], rather than a mitigated negative declaration, must be prepared whenever substantial evidence in the record supports a "fair argument" that a project may have a significant effect on the environment....to which the City of LB letter adds:
"...[M]ore than a fair argument exists that the COSTCO project will have significant effects on the environment, including in particular air quality and traffic."
LBReport.com has posted the City of LB letter in full. To view it, click here.
A traffic consultant hired by the firm that owns Lakewood Center Mall defended the methodology in its traffic impact study. A traffic consultant hired by Lakewood City Hall said he reviewed the methodology and found it adequate. A traffic consultant from Costco rose from the audience and sought to speak.
Lakewood City Hall doesn't put its explanatory public agency agenda document online for easy public access and recording conditions in the Council Chamber (room ceiling speakers) aren't optimal. However, LBReport.com recorded portions of the hearing and plans to make them available on the internet on a link below shortly. Revisit this page; click reload or refresh on your browser and the link should appear in the coming hours.
LB residents of the Greywood Ave. area (north-south street between Clark Ave. and Lakewood Blvd. across from a Del Amo. Blvd. south mall entrance) said traffic on their street, which has no sidewalks, is already a safety hazard.
A Lakewood resident of Candlewood Ave. and Clark Ave. said the is often unable to exit his driveway with current traffic. One Lakewood resident of Clark Ave. said traffic had already harmed her area...and gasoline tanker trucks would increase neighborhood safety risks. .
In the end, Lakewood City Hall's (appointed, non-elected) Planning & Environment Commission (non-elected) voted 5-0 to approve the mitigated negative declaration.
The Lakewood City Clerk's office says the Planning Commission action is appealable to the Lakewood City Council within twenty days...for a filing fee (payable to the City of Lakewood) of $300.