Woodland Hills residents are contesting the Westfield Promenade project roughly two weeks after officials at the city of Los Angeles approved the $1.5 billion development’s 7,500-seat arena component.
In recent months, neighbors of the Warner Center redevelopment project have criticized the mixed-use design, saying the new stadium would attract rough crowds and exacerbate pollution and traffic. Now, a group of Woodland Hills residents have filed an appeal with city officials against the project. In a 13-page filing, Gina Thornburg, founder of Coalition for Valley Neighborhoods, said the city did not require the developer to include affordable housing units in its residential plan.
“I am aggrieved on behalf of the many people I know, including many millennials, who work full time or more while living with friends or family because the rent in L.A. is so high,” Thornburg wrote in the document.
In a separate letter, developer Westfield has filed its own appeal. The appeal said, “The determination that the capacity of the entertainment center be reduced from 15,000 seats, as proposed, to 7,500 seats appears to be based on comments from certain members of the community as to their preferred size and not related to what is permitted and envisioned by the Warner Center Plan or the potential impacts analyzed in the supplemental (environmental impact report).”
The letter also said that a separate analysis concluded that the San Fernando Valley was “in need of a venue that would provide high-quality entertainment and could support a venue including 15,000 seats, the entertainment center would enhance the built environment by siting an exciting new use in the heart of the San Fernando Valley and provide a function that is beneficial to the surrounding community.”
If approved, the proposed Westfield site will turn a near-vacant Promenade shopping mall into a 34-acre mixed-use district with 1,400 multi-family residential units, 244,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, 630,000 square feet of office, 5,610 parking spaces, and a 570-key hotel. Supporters believe the development will create jobs and stimulate the local economy.
The reduction of the stadium’s seat capacity from 15,000 to 7,500 appeared to be a compromise for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the owner of the property. Nevertheless, Larry Green, the firm’s executive vice president for development, told the Business Journal on July 23 that Westfield was “pleased that the determination letter embraced the idea of an entertainment and sports center, as well as approved its size within the overall footprint of the Promenade Plan. We look forward to a continuing conversation about the importance of having a facility that compares in seating capacity and quality as those serving other parts of greater Los Angeles, as well as one that will act as a catalyst for further economic growth in the Warner Center’s Downtown District.”
In light of the residents’ filing, Green told the Daily News that “with this appeal, we are simply refining the plan in accordance with the relevant city process.”