Viewpoint: Palisades Needs a Master Plan

by Donna Vaccarino
Special to the Palisades News

Congratulations to the Potrero Canyon Park project and its dedicated consortium for their erudite plan, presented at the October 27 Community Council meeting. The plan is so good it demands that the rest of our community projects come up to that elegant standard. Which begs a question regarding Caruso’s Palisades Village project on Swarthmore: Has our community actually seen the plans upon which the project is now moving forward?

The Community Council and its land-use committee supported the Village Project based on the July 2015 submission. Numerous renditions followed, right up to the hearing and approval by the L.A. Planning Commission and City Council.

Now that the project is moving forward from preliminary design into formal building doc- uments, who is the architect of record? Upon which plan is the project moving forward, and what changes or updates have been made to the plan, which now accommodates a third level of parking? With the increase in parking, has any change occurred that would be allowable under this accommodation and parking increase?

Our community is about to witness the digging of a very large hole; fortunately, we need the dirt for Potrero Park! But, it is important to ask: Will the Caruso Village Project follow carefully the Letter of Determination and conditions that were approved in the Entitlements and Mitigated Negative Declaration earlier this year?

The many conditions included a professional third-party archeologist to monitor the excavation for remnants or artifacts. What photo-documentation was made of the demolition and will be made for the excavation? The MND described this area as historically significant. And, for the buildings that were just demolished, can we please see the Hazard Abatement reports and confirmation letters that are required prior to demolition?

A larger question is how do these two projects (Potrero Canyon and the Village Project) meld together and connect to a larger master plan for the entire village area that addresses traffic, bike and pedestrian flow and safety?

Visitors and friends will be coming here more often. Remember the mantra: shop, dine, drink, see a movie, have ice cream; and hike the Santa Monica Mountains, all the way to the sea! Dolphins can be seen from various vista points along the bluffs that look out to the grand Pacific.

The Palisades Experience. Temescal Canyon Gateway Park, Will Rogers State Historic Park, Los Leones, the Self-Realization Fellowship Center, a myriad of connecting trails to the Backbone Trial and, of course, the Pacific Ocean and our beaches create an emerald necklace around our village.

Nevertheless, we need to brace ourselves for success. This area will be so booming that we will have to sell timed park entry tickets for guided nature walks for a visitor’s own safety. Let’s face it—our community is going to experience a sizeable spike in visits from out of the area. The sleepy vintage Palisades is about to get a big jolt. It’s a destination now for the Palisadian Experience.

So in the end, how does this all pull together? Master Plan, anyone?

(Editor’s note: Donna Vaccarino is an architect and serves on the Pacific Palisades Design Review Board, but this Viewpoint reflects her opinions as a private citizen.)

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