City Council Report
City Council Meeting: September 24, 2013
Agenda Item: 3-N
To: Mayor and City Council
From: David Martin, Director of Planning and Community Development
Subject: Lantana South Development Agreement 03DEV-001 Neighborhood Traffic Protection Program
Staff recommends that City Council:
1) Determine that no additional measures should be installed, and that no existing measures be removed within the Lantana South Neighborhood area; and
2) Direct Staff to refund the Construction Deposit to Lui2 LA Lantana, II, L.P., the owner of the Lantana South Development Agreement.
3) Appropriate the budget increases and authorize the budget changes as outlined in the Financial Impacts and Budget Actions section of this report.
The City of Santa Monica and Lantana North Hines Development, LLC entered into a Development Agreement (DA) on October 28, 2004 for the properties located at 3030 Olympic Boulevard (Lantana East) and 3301 Exposition Boulevard (Lantana South) in Santa Monica. The Lantana South DA included a Neighborhood Traffic Protection Program (Exhibit “O” of the Agreement) that required the developer to construct neighborhood traffic protection measures within the adjacent residential neighborhood. These measures were designed to reduce cut-through traffic and improve the safety and walkability of the neighborhood. A Construction Deposit amount of $231,854.81 was collected from the developer to cover any construction costs of additional physical measures, or the removal of the existing improvements. The Neighborhood Traffic Protection Program (NTPP) required the developer to construct these traffic calming measures, review the effectiveness of the physical measures once installed, and solicit neighborhood feedback. Subsequently, the DA requires the City Council to revisit the NTPP and determine whether additional or alternate physical measures should be installed, or existing measures removed if determined ineffective.
Based on the findings of the traffic study which conclude that the traffic observed is generally consistent with (if not less than) the levels of impact anticipated by the project’s environmental impact report, staff has determined that the physical traffic calming measures are effective in mitigating traffic impacts to the subject residential neighborhood. Moreover, staff believes that there are no alternate physical improvements that can be implemented that would further assist with mitigating circulation impacts to the neighborhood area as intended. Furthermore, feedback from area residents generally support the physical measures constructed in the neighborhood, and should remain as existing. Based on these findings, staff has determined that no additional changes to the traffic calming measures are required of the developer. Should the City Council determine the measures are adequate and no changes are required, the construction deposit will be refunded to the developer.
On October 28, 2004, the City Council approved an ordinance to allow the City of Santa Monica and Lantana North Hines Development, LLC to enter into a Development Agreement for the properties located at 3030 Olympic Boulevard (Lantana East) and 3301 Exposition Boulevard (Lantana South) in Santa Monica. The Lantana East Development Agreement authorized the construction of a 3-story, 64,000 SF entertainment production building located at 3030 Olympic Boulevard, and the Lantana South Development Agreement authorized a 3-story, 130,000 SF entertainment production building at 3301 Exposition Boulevard. The Lantana South Development Agreement included a Neighborhood Traffic Protection Program (Exhibit “O” of the Agreement) that required the developer to construct neighborhood traffic protection measures within the adjacent residential neighborhood bounded by Exposition Boulevard, Virginia Avenue, Stewart Street, and Centinela Avenue (“Neighborhood Area”, see attached map). The traffic calming physical improvements included new landscaping, curb extensions, and wedge-shaped barriers designed to establish turn restrictions, reduce cut-through traffic, and improve the safety and walkability of the neighborhood by narrowing intersections and crosswalks.
The purpose of the Neighborhood Traffic Protection Program (NTPP) was to implement these traffic calming measures, review the effectiveness of the measures once installed, and to determine whether additional or alternate physical measures should be installed, or existing measures removed if determined ineffective. The program required that the Developer (Lui2 LA Lantana II LP) fund a traffic study with the traffic calming measures in place, sponsor a neighborhood workshop with City staff and neighborhood area residents, and solicit comments/feedback from area residents through a survey. A Construction Deposit in the amount of $231,854.81 was collected from the developer to cover construction costs of any additional physical measures, or the removal of the installed measures. The amount was determined based on 25% of the initial hard costs for construction of the measures, plus 3% annually from 2008 through 2010. This money were received by the city and recorded as revenue in fiscal year 2008-2009, and 2009-2010, to be refunded upon completion of the program.
The traffic calming improvements were constructed in 2008 by the developer, concurrent with the construction of the Lantana South development. Traffic data was collected in December 2010, and a traffic study was completed in 2011. A workshop was held on July 21, 2011 by staff and the developer to discuss the traffic study findings. Based on the findings of the traffic study and feedback from area residents, staff has determined that the physical traffic calming measures are effective in mitigating traffic impacts to the surrounding neighborhood, and that there are no additional or alternate physical measures to be considered. Furthermore, staff believes the existing physical measures should remain in place, and should not be further modified.
Although staff’s reporting of these findings to Council has been delayed due to staff workload, the DA did not specify a timeframe for Council review of the NTPP findings. The traffic study and public outreach findings were completed in 2011, and as required, the data collected is reflective of the neighborhood traffic conditions during the appropriate timeframe following the completion of the Lantana South development as specified in the NTPP. Furthermore, any new traffic studies at this time would not be appropriate since such studies would account for new development in the area with associated changes in traffic conditions, and would not be a test of the implemented traffic calming measures. Therefore, the NTPP should be evaluated based on the traffic study and public outreach findings provided in this report.
Traffic Study Methodology
The Developer commissioned traffic consultant LSA Associates to study the effectiveness of the physical traffic protection measures. Consistent with the requirements outlined in the Neighborhood Traffic Protection Program, the consultant analyzed traffic conditions in December 2010 within the subject neighborhood area. The study included pass-through traffic analysis, and compared projected project traffic identified in the Lantana Development Agreement’s EIR (supplemental) with the actual traffic observed. In addition, the study analyzed the observed traffic with the City’s Neighborhood Traffic Significant Impact Thresholds, and also compared accident analysis before and after the implementation of the physical improvements. At the time the study was conducted, the Lantana South building was not fully occupied (75%), and therefore the volumes on neighborhood streets were adjusted to reflect a 100% building occupancy. Staff reviewed and approved the study’s methodology proposed by the consultant.
Study Results & Findings
The study indicated an overall decline in traffic volume on street segments in the subject area compared to the projected traffic identified in the project’s EIR, with the exception of a slight increase along Delaware Avenue. This is attributed to the redistribution of traffic along east-west neighborhood roadways. In addition, the percentage of pass-through traffic for both a.m. and p.m. peak periods was lower than projected, and traffic patterns of project visitors coming to and from the site utilizing Exposition Boulevard were consistent as projected in the EIR. A slight increase (2%) in the a.m. peak period in the Exposition area was expected and desirable as a result of fewer trips using the adjacent residential streets. In comparing the existing volume with the City’s significant impact criteria for local streets, the residential streets south of Exposition Boulevard are not significantly impacted. However, the street segment of Exposition Boulevard between Stewart Street and 34th Street is significantly impacted by the project based on the City’s criteria. This impact was disclosed in the Supplemental EIR, and therefore not considered a new impact of the project. Finally, based on accident data provided by the City, the total number of accidents in the neighborhood has been reduced since the construction of the neighborhood traffic measures.
LSA’s traffic study includes a recommendation to implement Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies in response to the anticipated impact along Exposition Boulevard. However, the scope of the Neighborhood Traffic Protection Program specifically pertains to review of the physical traffic improvements constructed in the area. Although TDM strategies are beneficial in reducing vehicular trips and parking demand, the Neighborhood Traffic Protection Program did not contemplate the use of the construction deposit to fund non-physical elements such as the TDM strategies. Further, the DA does not stipulate a TDM requirement, and such requirements did not exist at the time the project was filed. Although new TDM strategies will not be funded by the deposit, staff continues to work successfully with Lantana employers on an annual basis to reduce employee commute trips through implementation of Employee Trip Reduction Plans as required by SMMC Section 9.16.
Staff and the developer held a neighborhood workshop on July 21, 2011 to discuss the study’s findings. Staff solicited resident comments at the workshop and through a survey on the physical improvements constructed in the area, and gathered input on the neighborhood’s existing parking and circulation conditions. Residents were generally supportive of the physical improvements, although some commented on the minor inconvenience of accessing their own properties due to turn restrictions established by the traffic calming measures. These turn restrictions are intended to prevent pass-through traffic within the neighborhood streets south of Exposition Boulevard. Residents also commented on vehicles queuing eastbound along Exposition Boulevard at Centinela Avenue (intersection) during p.m. peak hours, as vehicles exiting the neighborhood are not readily able to turn north and south bound due to peak-time congestion on Centinela Avenue. Although a proposed signal was not supported by the City of Los Angeles at the time of Lantana’s construction, a traffic signal is currently being evaluated as part of the Exposition Bike Path Project south of the intersection, potentially creating gaps in traffic.
Residents also commented that Lantana employees often utilize street parking in the neighborhood, specifically along Warwick Avenue and Exposition Boulevard. Staff is aware that residential neighbors are concerned about Lantana South employees and visitors parking on neighborhood area residential streets. In April 2012, residents of the 3000 blocks of Exposition Boulevard and Delaware Avenue, and the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Warwick Avenue submitted petitions for more stringent preferential parking regulations. On May 14, 2013, the City Council approved new regulations to require no parking from 8am through 10pm, except by permit. Since that time, additional blocks in the neighborhood have successfully petitioned to have the new regulations implemented. Staff has also worked with individual tenants, specifically Beachbody, regarding overflow parking from their facility in the Lantana South building. Overflow parking in the neighborhood will be addressed separately through parking enforcement and revisions to existing preferential parking regulations.
The Code requires that that the City provide at least 10 days’ notice to the Developer or successor-in-interest of the City Council’s scheduled meeting to review the Development Agreement. This notice has been provided.
Should the City Council determine the developer has met the requirements of the NTPP, staff will refund the Construction Deposit.
All Development Agreement fees associated with this project have been paid to date. The construction deposit in the amount of $231,854.81 was deposited into account 04224.407815. The payment to refund the construction deposit will be charged to 04266.544397. Refund of the construction deposit requires the following budget actions:
1) A release of restricted fund balance from account 4.365504;
2) An appropriation of $231,854.81 to account 04266.544397.