Unleashing what they hope will be a powerful economic argument on the eve of a key public hearing, backers of the vast Playa Vista development near Marina del Rey contend that the project will create up to 137,000 jobs and pump nearly $13 billion into the local economy in the next 10 years.
A report to be released today also makes public for the first time an estimate of what it will cost to build the residential, office, retail and hotel project: $7 billion. When completed, it will generate $39 million per year in tax revenue for Los Angeles and $30 million more for Los Angeles County, the report says.
"If (initial) approvals are received this fall, and if the plan is built as proposed, Playa Vista can jump-start the local economy as early as next year," predicted the report's author, Jack Rodman, managing partner with Kenneth Leventhal & Co. The accounting firm was hired by the project's developer, Maguire Thomas Partners, to prepare the report.
Maguire Thomas executives will use the findings to combat critics poised to oppose the plans for the initial phase on Thursday before the Los Angeles Planning Commission.
After years of planning and environmental studies, the hearing will be the first public showdown between the developers and opponents eager to scale back or kill the project.
If the Planning Commission approves the plans, opponents are expected to appeal to the City Council. A final decision on the project is likely in the next few months, and Maguire Thomas officials say they hope to begin construction in about a year.
Councilwoman Ruth Galanter and state Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) have filed formal appeals of a city advisory agency's recent decision to approve the first stage.
Hayden is opposed to the project on the grounds that it will worsen traffic and air quality in the busy corridor between Los Angeles International Airport and Santa Monica. Galanter, whose council district includes the Playa Vista property, has taken a different approach, pressing for changes to ease the project's impact on the surrounding area.
The project's first stage--which amounts to about a quarter of the entire development--would involve construction of 3,246 residential units, 1.25 million square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of retail space and 300 hotel rooms.
Ultimately, plans call for Playa Vista to be home to 28,625 residents and a workplace for 20,000 people. The 1,000-acre site stretches from the San Diego Freeway nearly to the ocean.
According to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, 137,000 jobs would be generated, including on-site jobs and those created among manufacturers, suppliers and service providers. The report estimates that 34,000 jobs would be created during the project's first phase, from 1994 to 1997. The report defines a job as full-time employment for one year.
"This is great news for the construction industry," said Jim Wood, executive officer of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor. Wood was among a small group of civic, business and labor leaders who received an early glimpse of the report by the developer.
Although Playa Vista has won support from many civic, labor and business groups for its innovative design and economic benefits, it also has powerful critics, chief among them Hayden and Galanter.
Besides environmental concerns, Hayden has questioned the wisdom of developing "another enclave for the affluent" in Los Angeles at a time when he insists little has been done to improve the inner city in the wake of last year's riots.
"The developer likes to say that this is the alternative to suburban sprawl," he said in a recent interview, "but to me it looks more like a suburban enclave on the outer edge of the city."