Development Shrinks Despite Housing Need

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Highlighting the pressure that environmentalists are putting on new development in many places around the country.

January 01, 2003

Highlighting the pressure that environmentalists are putting on new development in many places around the country, Playa Vista, a mammoth west Los Angeles residential development, has radically altered plans for future growth to accommodate more open space despite an existing 500 acres set aside for that purpose.

Instead of having nearly 50% open space, the 1,087-acre community in a land-strapped urban area will be 70% open as a result of an option agreement to sell an additional parcel to the Trust for Public Land. At the same time as that agreement, the city of L.A. announced it would issue an important environmental impact notice needed for development to move into a second phase.

It's estimated that the new plan for Playa Vista will result in 5,846 housing units instead of the 13,000 originally planned, one-third of the amount of office space and 69% less retail space.

"We're scaling back the size of this community and increasing the amount of open space," Playa Vista president Steve Soboroff says. "It exemplifies our commitment to balancing the critical need for housing with the importance of respecting the environment. The result is a smaller, greener Playa Vista."

In November, the L.A. area's acute need for housing was the subject of a "growth visioning" forum held by the L.A. District Council of the Urban Land Institute. Local officials explored options for housing an estimated 6 million new residents by 2020.

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