A longterm plan for guiding development near the Bergamot Station Arts Center with the arrival of the Expo light rail in 2016 moved closer to implementation Tuesday night with the City Council initiating a state-mandated review of the plan's environmental impacts.
The Bergamot Area Plan will be adopted after the Environmental Impact Report is completed and circulated for public comment. The report will assess its impacts on traffic, land use and air quality.
The planning area encompasses 140 acres of former industrial space on both sides of Olympic Boulevard through the northeastern edge of the city. Under the plan, the area would be transformed into a walkable neighborhood with new art studios, creative offices, thousands of new apartments and condos, "neighborhood serving" shops, and green space.
For the most part, the plan was lauded Tuesday by community leaders and council members who called it "extraordinary" and "exciting."
"It really does envision a complete neighborhood" for families, seniors, and young adults, said councilwoman Gleam Davis. It presents the "opportunity to build a mini city within a city."
It restricts building heights to below 75 feet, calls for the creation of 10 new streets and 15 new bike and pedestrian paths and says the most dense development should be placed west in the Bergamot Transit Village, a mixed-use project proposed at the former PaperMate site.
Neighborhood groups and slow-growth activists have said the Bergamot Plan should be adopted before any more development agreements, especially with the transit village, are approved in the area.
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"No one can pretend" agreements that have already been approved, including with Agensys and Village Trailer Park meet the plan's goal of "respecting the reduced scale and tree lined character" of nearby existing neighborhoods, said Sunset Park resident Zina Josephs.
The plan is not perfect, council members acknowledged.
They asked city staffers to rethink minimum apartment sizes—currently proposed at between 750 square feet and 900 gross square feet, depending on their location—the plan's impact on existing neighborhoods, and how Stewart Street would connect the Bergamot area to the Pico Neighborhood.
Councilman Terry O'Day said he does not want "exasperate" the divisions among communities separated by the 10 Freeway. "Stewart Street is very important not only to this district but to the neighborhoods to the south," he said.
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