Subdivision, Campus Plans Rouse Ire in Westchester

Times Staff Writer

Loyola Marymount University and Howard Hughes Realty have proposed two major construction projects that critics say would add to the congestion caused by the massive Playa Vista, the Howard Hughes Center and Los Angeles International Airport developments.

Hughes Realty has proposed a subdivision of 205 homes on 42.6 acres in northeastern Westchester. Loyola has proposed a 20-year, $100-million expansion on 27.5 acres next to its main campus.

The Hughes proposal, which is on two parcels atop a bluff north of Denrock and Kentwood avenues, has attracted opposition from some homeowners in the neighboring middle-class residential area.

Walter Hoffman, one of five directors of Kentwood Home Guardians, which claims to represent 3,200 homeowners in northeastern Westchester, said his neighborhood cannot handle the increased traffic that would result from more than 200 new homeowners. He also said the bluff-top development would destroy the view for many longtime residents.

"There is plenty of room for about 130 homes without creating a mess and taking away views from people who have enjoyed them for years," he said. But "200 homes is more than the present streets" and other municipal facilities can handle, he said.

"It is Hughes' land and they certainly have the right of development," Hoffman said. "But greed is the reason they are putting in too much development."

Hughes Vice President Stephenie Miller said she does not understand the objections to the development.

"I don't know why they are unhappy when they have been telling us that the area is job rich and housing poor," she said. "This is more housing. And our traffic studies and draft environmental impact report show that there will be no serious" traffic impact, she said.

Views Would Be Blocked

Miller admitted that some homes constructed in the subdivision would block the views of some present homeowners. "It is physically impossible to keep everybody's view or partial view intact because of the lay of the property," she said.

The Hughes subdivision must be approved by the Los Angeles Planning Commission and City Council, Miller said.

Like the residents near the Hughes development, homeowners near Loyola's proposed expansion said they are worried that development may increase traffic in their neighborhood.

But Loyola's architect, Arthur Golding, said the university's expansion may actually reduce traffic in the area surrounding the school because much of the expansion will go toward housing for students who now commute to school.

Golding said the university is planning to construct 14 buildings, all under five stories. Eight of the buildings would be used to house 1,250 students. He said the university does not plan to use the housing to expand its enrollment of 3,700 undergraduate students.

"The intention is to use (the housing) to primarily change the balance between commuter and resident students," Golding said. "Today the school is about 75% commuter students and they want to change that to where it will be 75% (on campus) residential students."

Increased Involvement

University spokeswoman Mary Mehoke said Loyola was increasing on-campus housing because students who live on campus are more likely to participate in university activities. This is one of the goals of the Jesuit university, she said.

As part of the expansion, the university has agreed build a road that would divert some traffic to the north of the school away from residential areas.

The expansion would also include an auditorium, dining center and additional classrooms, Golding said. He acknowledged that about 10 homes on 77th Street, which forms the southern border of the campus extension, would lose at least part of their views once the expansion is completed.

Golding said the city must complete an environmental impact report on the project and the university must receive planning commission approval before construction can begin.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World