City to join foes of FBI building

Times Staff Writer

The city of Los Angeles is preparing to join a coalition of veterans and Westside residents and business groups challenging the federal government’s plan to tear down the Federal Building in Westwood and erect a new FBI headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard.

City Councilmen Jack Weiss and Bill Rosendahl said Thursday they planned to introduce a measure asking that the city attorney outline what steps the city would have to take to participate in an expected lawsuit.

The measure would also renew the city’s request for a master plan for all federal properties in the area, including the Federal Building property and the Veterans Affairs campus.


The council probably will approve the measure in a few weeks.

No suit has been filed, but the Coalition for Veterans’ Land, citing concerns about traffic and terrorism, said it expected to take its battle to federal court after the government filed its final environmental impact statement on the project.

That report is slated for release this month.

“We are going to fight and we are going to stop this federal proposal,” Weiss said at a news conference at Wilshire and Veteran Avenue, where stiff winds whipped the multiple American flags on tall poles at the property. Weiss added that he strongly supported the FBI but had serious concerns about the potential for additional traffic in the already congested area, which is sliced by the 405 Freeway.

Rosendahl also addressed traffic fears, saying that “we cannot afford on the Westside any more gridlock.”

“We have had it. No more expansion,” he said.

Longtime Westside activist Laura Lake called the councilmen’s action “historic,” saying she could not “remember when the city stood with a coalition of community groups.”

The General Services Administration has said that it reviewed 35 sites but determined that the Federal Building property best suited the FBI’s needs. The GSA, which oversees land purchases and construction for federal government agencies, said it planned to tear down the existing 17-story building and build two towers that combined would have 732,000 square feet. That is 170,000 square feet larger than the current building, which is about 40 years old.

Rosendahl and Weiss said the FBI office should be downtown, close to city and county offices and law enforcement. According to coalition members, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s business development team offered sites downtown, but the GSA would not budge.

Rosendahl created a stir when he said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also supported the coalition’s cause.

However, Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the governor, said later: “We’ve not taken a position on this.”