Archer School for Girls' expansion wins unanimous approval

The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 Tuesday to approve a $100-million expansion of Archer School for Girls in Brentwood, despite lingering concerns from residents that traffic would worsen.

"We're elated and immensely grateful to all the people who supported the project," said Elizabeth English, Archer's head of school. "We think this is going to be an incredible asset to the community."

Archer's proposal includes new performing and visual arts centers, gyms and an underground parking garage for more than 200 vehicles. The project would require months of excavation and dirt-hauling, with potentially hundreds of daily truck trips from its location at Sunset Boulevard and Barrington Avenue -- already a serious choke point.

To offer athletics and performing arts, the school, in the historic Eastern Star home, has rented venues and bused students throughout the region.

English said the school expects to begin the three-year construction project in 2017.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who initially had qualms about the project, came around after the school made significant cutbacks -- eliminating an aquatics center and slashing the number of seats in its performing arts center -- and agreed to a strict traffic-management plan.

Bonin said he planned to hold up Archer's traffic plan as an example to other schools in the Sunset corridor. He also said he expected the schools to collaborate to reduce congestion in the area -- by sharing buses, for example. Archer said it has agreed to head that effort.

Archer, where tuition for the coming school year will be $38,600, is one of many elite private schools throughout the L.A. area with growth plans.

The Sunset Coalition, a newly formed opposition group, criticized Bonin and the council.

"The  Archer project will have major impacts on traffic and air quality that have not been adequately addressed or mitigated," the group said in a statement. "It appears that today's council action leaves us little choice but to file a lawsuit to require Archer to follow state environmental protection laws."

Twitter: @MarthaGroves

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