Laurel Neighborhood News

by John Frando and Kathleen Rolinson

Winners Last Year in the Laurel Village Association Halloween Decoration Contest. Photos by Renais Winter.

Click to enlarge.

Senior Housing Project To Be Resubmitted

Alexis Gevorgian intends to reapply to build affordable senior housing at High St. and MacArthur Blvd. The developer gained planning commission approval in February but withdrew the application in May after project opponents revealed that a portion of the site, the former location of an auto repair and gas station, was on the state Cortese List of potentially hazardous sites.

City planner Robert Merkamp said that he was unaware of any underground tanks, and that the site did not appear on certain lists that would have triggered an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Gevorgian denied that he concealed the presence of the tanks or simply intended to build over them, as he said some project opponents contend. "The [current land] owner had permits on file to clean up the site," he said. "Under the previous approach, the cleanup would have come under the building permits phase. Under a Mitigated Negative Declaration, the cleanup becomes part of the entitlements (or planning approvals). The results are the same."

Gevorgian said that he will pursue entitlements under a Mitigated Negative Declaration. Under state law, projects subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) must undergo an EIR, unless an Initial Study shows no significant impacts on a wide-ranging list of environmental topics, a process called a Negative Declaration. The city can grant a Mitigated Negative Declaration when satisfied that a project includes measures to mitigate or moderate conditions identified in the Initial Study.

"The city will hire and work with a CEQA consultant to conduct the Initial Study." Merkamp said. "It's premature to comment on whether we will recommend a Mitigated Negative Declaration. We have not yet received the application."

In response to project opposition, Gevorgian expressed frustration. "We responded to all their points." Since the project was first introduced to community members by Councilmember Quan's office in March 2006, the developer reduced the number of stories and apartments, included some ground floor retail space, included an indoor air filtration ventilation system, and redesigned the building materials and colors to fit into the neighborhood.

"If you oppose the project, you don't have to live there," he said. "But after we are done, the community will see [many] seniors happy for a new place to live."

Problem-Solving Officers

The police beats encompassing the Laurel have new Problem-Solving Officers (PSOs). Officer Ryan Kabahit serves beat 25X—from 35th Ave. to east of High St. Officer Ann Pierce now serves beat 22Y—from 35th Ave. to Coolidge Ave. You can meet them at monthly NCPC meetings, and will see them in the neighborhood resolving problem issues raised by residents.

Passed by voters in 2004, Measure Y reached a milestone with each of the city's 57 police beats having a dedicated PSO.

Halloween Decoration Contest

The Laurel Village Association will sponsor the 3rd Annual Halloween Decoration Contest. Nominate your own or another well-decorated home to win in categories like Most Ghoulish, Most Humorous, Best Theme, and a new award to the Most Decorated Street. Nominated houses will be photographed, and the images will be posted on the listserv for voting. Winners will receive a framed certificate, Laurel Village canvas tote bag, and a treat. Send home addresses to winterstone\ by Wednesday, October 29. Join in the fun.

John Frando can be reached at jfrando\ and Kathleen Rolinson at krolinson\