Resident group fighting Canyon Acres parking lot

A Canyon Acres Drive resident has appealed the Planning Commission's approval of a lot off the road that would provide more festival and downtown business parking during the summer.

Steve Tollefsrud, writing on behalf of a new Laguna Canyon group called the Canyon Alliance of Neighborhoods Defense Organization, claims the commission erred at its April 23 hearing when it approved a temporary use permit to open a 31,000-square-foot vacant lot at 113 Canyon Acres Drive to parking for employees — not the public.

The lot would have 90 spots and be open from 8:30 a.m. to midnight daily from June 27 through Aug. 31.

Several residents at the hearing opposed the lot, saying it would create traffic and safety issues and could hinder evacuation from the neighborhood in an emergency.

The city says opening the lot is one of several strategies to reduce congestion and improve parking, which includes boosting parking meter rates in desirable locations to align with demand.

Tollefsrud lists 13 grievances in the appeal, including a failure to address potential noise, pollution and light/glare concerns; insufficient public notice announcing the public hearing; lack of a traffic impact study; and incompatibility with nearby residential neighborhoods.

Motorists entering and exiting the lot would "pose a risk to playing children, other pedestrians and pets," the appeal says. "This proposed use is not compatible with the character and integrity of the quiet residential neighborhood of Canyon Acres Drive and Arroyo Drive. It would have detrimental effects on the surrounding properties and community, as well as directly and indirectly on the health, safety and general welfare of persons residing in the area."

Temporary parking lots are permitted in residential zones with Planning Commission approval, Deputy City Manger Ben Siegel wrote in an email.

The meeting was also property noticed, Siegel said.

"Residents or tenants within 100 feet and property owners within 300 feet of the property were mailed notices on April 11," Siegel said. "Public hearing notices were also posted on the property [the same day], within 10 calendar days from the Planning Commission meeting date."

Residents are also concerned with possible environmental impacts and claim a water-quality report should have been completed, according to the appeal. The lot sits in a 100-year flood plain.

"Densely concentrating many vehicles in a small lot has the potential to substantially degrade the quality of the environment, and would have significant environmental effects [greenhouse emissions, discharge of toxic fluids, noise, increased traffic] that will cause substantial adverse effect," the appeal says.

Commissioners also approved 67 public valet spots for certain days this summer at the Boys & Girls Club's main branch at 1085 Laguna Canyon Road, though no appeals were filed for this arrangement, City Clerk Lisette Chel-Walker wrote in an email Thursday. Valet parking would be available from 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays from June 27 through Aug. 31.

Tollefsrud says the commission should have considered the parking areas as one item and addressed the cumulative impacts.

Commissioner Anne Johnson said the plans should be kept separate.

"They are in different locations, different ownership and have different objectives," Johnson said.

In the Canyon Acres case, "I was looking for places to put our people [employees], make it easier for them and easier on congestion," Johnson said. "[Some employees] will stay all day in their booth."

By moving the festival employees from the ACT V lot on Laguna Canyon Road to 113 Canyon Acres Drive, we're able to effectively create an additional 50 to 75 parking spaces at ACT V for the public, Siegel said.

The strategy is designed to catch those vehicles before they reach the downtown area and contribute to traffic and parking congestion, Siegel added.

The City Council will consider the appeal at a future hearing.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World