City Study of Playa Vista Angers Foes

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Environmentalists objected Tuesday to a city report that concludes that potential hazards, such as underground methane gas, could be safely mitigated at the proposed Playa Vista development on the Westside.

Despite the protests from a standing-room-only crowd, the Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee recommended the report be considered by the full council next week.

If approved, the report is expected to make it easier for developers to receive $135 million in city-backed bonds to finance roads and utilities at the housing, office and retail complex near Marina del Rey.

The report, compiled by the council's chief legislative analyst with city agencies and outside consultants, said that any hazards could be satisfactorily addressed.

Environmentalists challenged the report's objectivity and called it a "whitewash." Patricia McPherson of the Grassroots Coalition alleged that it ignored, among other things, the toxicity of the methane gas leaking into the area from an old underground storage facility. The report said the facility is not leaking.

The chief legislative analyst's spokesman, Gerry Miller, stressed that the report's conclusions were fair and complete. Councilman Hal Bernson, the committee chairman, said he agreed but wanted to verify the qualifications of the consultants.

Playa Vista spokesman Neal Sacharow said he had "no doubts that Playa Vista is safe for development. This is really about what is fact and what is fiction."

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