Neighborhood Council Says Harvard-Westlake School Plan Lacks Vital Information

Studio City ad hoc committee determines the school's draft proposal for a massive development over Coldwater Canyon Avenue needs to address several issues before the final environmental impact report is submitted.

Harvard-Westlake parent Tim Hyde addresses the Studio City Neighborhood Council on Dec. 11, 2013. Credit: Matthew Sanderson
Harvard-Westlake parent Tim Hyde addresses the Studio City Neighborhood Council on Dec. 11, 2013. Credit: Matthew Sanderson
It was a sea of red Harvard-Westlake School shirts at the Studio City Neighborhood Council (SCNC) meeting Wednesday night at CBS Studios, leading an hour-and-a-half charge on the microphone in support of a controversial mixed-use development over Coldwater Canyon Avenue.

As school supporter numbers began to subside after 8:30 p.m., Studio City residents, mostly backed by the opposition group Save Coldwater Canyon, reiterated their concerns against the school's project.

Then the neighborhood council approved its ad hoc committee's determination, with one abstention, that Harvard-Westlake's draft environmental impact report was "deficient" and lacks certain mitigation measures.

Harvard-Westlake School proposes to build a multi-use, three-story parking garage with an athletic field on its roof, including a connecting pedestrian walkway, spanning Coldwater Canyon Avenue. Among the concerns are whether there is actually historical parking issue along that portion Coldwater Canyon to justify the project's scale, whether there is an benefit to the school's neighbors once completed and a host of mixed environmental concerns.

"We sat down for a month and broke this down," said SCNC President John Walker. "I hope we've done well by Harvard-Westlake to address the issues."

After the meeting John Amato, Harvard-Westlake's vice president, credited the SCNC for doing a thorough job and getting all responses heard.

The ad hoc committee questioned whether the proposed structure is compatible with the single family homes nearby.

SCNC Secretary Rita Villa, who assisted on the ad hoc committee, noted that Harvard-Westlake did not present any serious alternative proposals or explain how the original proposed structure will have a "less than significant" impact on the area.

She said the garage will bring in approximately 1,085 new parking spaces, but the school did not explain how it will not "generate new vehicle trips" or plans to mitigate the impacts of moving approximately 135,000 proposed cubic yards of dirt, which was presented as 100 trips per day during the excavation period.

"Harvard-Westlake should agree to compensate surrounding homeowners if there is damage," she said in the charge presented to the SCNC. "There's been no identified staging area of construction vehicles."

The committee determined the school is using conflicting maps and needs to present an updated layout of the school project.

Villa said the school should establish a "noise disturbance coordinator" with a telephone number available for residents to call when issues arise.

"Harvard-Westlake did not give sufficient consideration of the noise level and the surrounding repercussions," she said. "Shrubs and buffers need to be densely planted around the structure and retaining wall."

Villa focused on the 49 closest homes and Sunnyside Preschool being the most significantly affected by the project's decibel levels, recommending that Harvard-Westlake set up a relocation fund for Sunnyside. She also noted that a traffic control officer should be stationed during high traffic times of construction.

"The project has the potential to degrade the quality of the environment around the school," Villa added before arriving to the conclusion for the SCNC.

Click here to view the DEIR.

Click here to view previous coverage and posts about the project, which include letters to the editor in support or in opposition.

What are your thoughts?

Edward Lozzi January 07, 2014 at 06:38 PM
WAKE UP STUDIO CITY/ and Mullholland Drive Beverly Hills HOMEOWNERS ! Your property values are about to plummet if the Coldwater Canyon Harvard Westlake Mega Parking Structure and Bridge is allowed to proceed. Ask any Realtor trying to sellhomes in this district. Also Harvard Westlake School is already phasing out use of the track and field by neighbors. We have proof. This is a disaster for Studio City and Coldwater Canyon Residents and their vehicles. Write City Councilman Paul Krekorian --demand he turn it down NOW ! Or else we will have Encino High rise office buidings here next!!! Clock is ticking.
Nancy Mehagian January 08, 2014 at 10:55 AM
Frankly, I am amazed by how many people in the area have no idea what Harvard Westlake is planning. Even the Studio City Fire Dept. had not heard about the mega parking structure they want to build. Besides the nearly 3 year, 6 day a week construction on Coldwater Canyon, already a nightmare for commuters, to see a 3 story parking garage on what is currently open space would only make our neighborhood look like an airport.
Edward Lozzi January 13, 2014 at 01:21 AM
This will be an absolute nightmare for local commuters for three years. Back up for miles...will have to use other canyons. Also the lights will shine into neighbors windows all night. Security guards and their vehicles will run all night.....also it is known that the locals who had use of the track and field for jogging have now been shut out....they are gearing up for a nasty fight. This is an eyesore and an unnecessary flaunting of school alumni money. This will not only be an eternal blight on the community but no one in the neighborhood will be able to park or use the facilities. Also there will be investigations to see if any city funds will be used for any reason. Don't be conned by Harvard-Westlake School officials. This is a for profit religious school that does not pay taxes. There are thousands of commuters per day that will be effected by this nightmare for three years and neighbors effected forever. Real Estate values??? Good luck getting a decent price for your homes neighbors. Good luck.


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