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'Gateway' under review

Proposed Village Entrance project to be weighed for possible impacts. Plan includes nearly 700 parking spots on Laguna Canyon Road.

October 07, 2010|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com

The public has until Nov. 24 to file comments on the environmental impacts of a proposed Village Entrance project before it moves along the path to certification by the City Council.

The proposed project includes a park and a five-level, 218,625-square-foot parking structure with a maximum of 667 spaces for public and city employees. The structure, last estimated to cost $52 million, is also envisioned as housing for some city offices, a meeting room, public and employee restrooms, lockers, maintenance equipment, storage rooms and city vehicles, left over when most of the city's corporation yard was relocated to ACT V.

"I'm hoping they [City Council] will significantly downsize the parking garage so the city can afford it," former Mayor Ann Christoph said.

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"A much smaller two-level garage with access from Loma Terrace and from Broadway that would not need ramps would save space and money. It could be designed so they could add another level later."

Public comments on the project, as described in the revised environmental-impact report or alternatives, may be submitted in writing to the city until the deadline or orally at a Planning Commission hearing scheduled for Nov. 10.

"All comments, written or oral, will be responded to," city Planning Manager Ann Larson said.

The purpose of an environmental-impact report is to inform decision-makers and the public of possible effects of a project, identify ways to minimize them and describe alternatives to the project, including no project.

Impacts are identified by the lead agency for a project: in this case the city's Community Development Department. Public Works is the applicant.

Extensive analysis

The Village Entrance draft report analyzes impact areas such as aesthetics, cultural resources, geology, hazards hydrology and water quality, land use and planning.

Among the areas of known concern:

•Air quality

•Traffic congestion, especially on Laguna Canyon Road at the proposed entrance

•Noise from city equipment

•Landscaping, including the preservation of existing trees

•Visual impacts

Alternatives include three- and four-level parking structures, a mixed use project, alternate site plans and no project at all.

"Getting the park done is the most important part to me," said Christoph, a member of the Laguna Coalition.

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