Westside abuzz over Bundy Village plan

A proposal to build a large medical complex along with hundreds of homes and retail shops at a busy West Los Angeles intersection has touched off heated debate about congestion versus renewal in an already intensively developed area that’s facing dozens of other construction projects.

Bundy Village & Medical Park would include 385 housing units, many for elderly residents, and more than 500,000 square feet of commercial space on the northwest corner of Bundy Drive and Olympic Boulevard. Most of the commercial space would be devoted to medical facilities. Plans also call for more than 3,200 parking spaces.

Engineers say the 11.5-acre development would result in 21,000 additional daily car trips to the area.

The project would replace a vacant Teledyne building, three low-slung brick office buildings and a large asphalt parking lot.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes the site, have voiced their support for the project, which they say would create jobs, vital medical services for an aging population and much-needed senior housing on the Westside.

It would also fulfill the city’s desire for density on transportation corridors, since it would be near the planned Expo Line light-rail route.

The Planning Commission is expected Thursday to approve the necessary zoning changes and plan amendments, certify the environmental impact report and deny appeals filed by a developer and the Brentwood Community Council, which cite concerns about traffic congestion.

Despite the poor economy, the Westside continues to be a hotbed of development. Among dozens of projects large and small that have been approved or are under discussion are the expansion of the Westfield Century City shopping center, the redevelopment of the Century Plaza Hotel site, Playa Vista’s Phase 2, a transit-oriented development from Alan Casden at Pico and Sepulveda boulevards, and the Bergamot Transit Village Center in Santa Monica, near the Bundy Village site.

Amid Tuesday morning’s rush hour, residents and businesspeople who oppose Bundy Village gathered at Bundy and Olympic carrying signs bearing slogans such as “Say No to Bundy Village” and “Honk If You’re Tired of Traffic.”

“This project is way, way, way too big for that corner,” said Lauren Cole, chairwoman of the Brentwood Community Council’s transportation committee.

“This is over 1 million square feet and 20,000 car trips on an intersection that’s already gridlocked. We’re saying you’ve got to downsize it to a level where you can mitigate traffic.”

Groups that have raised objections to the project include the Brentwood Homeowners Assn., Friends of Sunset Park in Santa Monica, the Pacific Palisades Residents Assn. and the Mar Vista Community Council, as well as the city of Santa Monica.

Rosendahl said Santa Monica was being hypocritical, given its intense development of office space.

“We have gridlock in my district because of the job creation they have done,” he said. Acknowledging that development “is a problem in my district,” Rosendahl added: “We have to find the delicate balance between health and housing needs and gridlock.”

The Bundy Village environmental report concluded that 40 intersections would be “significantly impacted” by the project. Traffic at 19 of those could be improved with additional turn lanes and other changes, but 21 would suffer unavoidable effects.

The project has changed dramatically from the initial proposal in fall 2002 for a hospital with an emergency room and medical offices. After the community protested the prospect of round-the-clock emergency runs and the council office pointed out the need for affordable senior housing, the developer shifted gears.

But Michael Lombardi, president of Stonebridge Holdings Inc., which is developing the project, said he remained convinced that the area needs medical services, given recent hospital closures and demand from an aging populace.

The West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, which represents the area, also voted to back the project, with the condition that the developer reduce projected car trips by 10%.