Lomita City Council OKs Condo Project Despite Complaints
Ignoring the complaints of angry residents, Lomita officials have decided to allow a developer to build a 13-unit condominium on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Residents of a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue between Lomita Boulevard and 246th Street complain that traffic problems in their neighborhood will be worsened by the complex, to be built at 24354 Pennsylvania Ave. The homeowners also assert that the presence of the condominiums, being built by Torrance-based JCC Development, will reduce their property values.
“There is a certain character in our community, homes with big lots,” said Mark Krietzman, an attorney who circulated a petition signed by 100 Lomita residents urging the City Council to deny final approval of the development on the three-quarters of an acre lot. “Condos are going to drive down the value of our homes, which we think will ultimately lead to a transient population of renters.”
In a vote on Monday, however, the City Council approved the condominium plan unanimously. City officials say the group of homeowners voiced their opposition too late.
“I wonder where everyone was when the last public hearing was held?” asked Lomita Mayor Charles Belba. Two public hearings on the condominium development were held last June and July, the mayor said.
Krietzman said that some residents did not receive notice of the public meetings.
In May, the city’s traffic commission suggested during a public meeting that the proposed number of units be lowered from 13 to six, which would lessen the project’s effect on traffic. The commission reported that nearly 4,200 cars travel the narrow, two-way street each day, and speculated that the new units would generate 100 to 130 additional daily trips. Parking is also scarce.
Ben Triana, a member of the city’s traffic commission, said the city ignored the panel’s suggestion and allowed the developer to purchase the property and proceed with plans to build 13 units.
“In my opinion, (the city’s approval) was like a rubber stamp,” Triana told council members Monday. “A better development would have been a smaller development.”
The mayor disagreed, and said he based the initial approval on the findings of an independent traffic adviser. “There were extensive reports from the traffic adviser, who said the (increased) traffic flow would be insignificant,” Belba said.
Kurt Nelson, vice president of JCC Properties, said the project met all the city’s building criteria.
“This thing has been looked at under a microscope, thanks to Mr. Krietzman’s efforts,” Nelson said. “I understand what the homeowners are saying, but as long as we meet the criteria set by the city, we should be granted the final approval.”
But community activists assert that fear of costly litigation prompted the city to approve the condominium plan.
“The City Council could have stood up for the community,” Krietzman said. “Instead, they caved in to threats from the developer.”
Said Triana: “I’m disappointed by the city officials.”