Studio City residents block new commercial development

LOS ANGELES — Coast live oak, black walnut and toyon are just some of the tree species along a section of Ventura Boulevard in Studio City that neighborhood activists Adele Slaughter and Harvey say Myman, are threatened by a new commercial development called Sunswept Place (Austin Family Development LLC).

What do you want to know

  • Coast live oak, black walnut and toyon are protected tree species threatened by new commercial development along Ventura Boulevard
  • Community advocate Adele Slaughter said there was no environmental impact report and proper building permits were not obtained when construction began.
  • A coalition of residents and tree conservation advocates have raised their concerns with the city and a stop work order has been issued for the site
  • The coalition requests an environmental impact report with a complete assessment of the tree

As the developer’s online concept videos show, the planned mixed-use complex would cut into the hillside and require the removal of much of what many residents consider important and irreplaceable tree habitat.

“Each tree has its own biological system that helps our environment here,” said Slaughter, who was disturbed to see a construction crew reckless and start damaging trees with blasting and moving heavy equipment. A coalition of affected parties and residents investigated the development and found that proper protocols and permissions had not been followed.

“There hasn’t been a tree report. There hasn’t been an EIR, which is an environmental impact report. be granted,” Slaughter said.

Concerns about endangered trees were brought to the city, and a stop work order halted construction in the meantime.

While the City of LA has embarked on programs to protect and increase our urban canopy, Slaughter worries that reckless and uncontrolled development could be counterproductive to those efforts.

“Our canopy was around 36% and we’ve been down 17% over the last 10 years,” she said.

Harvey Myman has lived on Sunswept Drive, overlooking the development, for over 20 years. He joined the fight to save the trees, but says the city and developer gave him the ride.

“It’s not that we’re sitting here against the very notion of development, but to do it illegally, to do it surreptitiously?” Myman said. “When people said, ‘What’s going on?’ [the city] said, ‘Oh, it’s the Ministry of Water and Energy that’s working.’ It is not the Ministry of Water and Energy.”

Slaughter and Myman agree that while development on its own may not seem like a big deal, they worry that the cumulative effect of tree felling will worsen our already declining urban canopy, and that a deficit will remain. net despite the city’s efforts to plant more trees, as is the goal of the Urban Tree Initiative supported by Mayor Garcetti and launched in 2019.

“We are sitting here facing a global crisis and we are paralyzed in our ability to act even locally,” Myman said.

Slaughter noted that there are more responsible development models we can turn to. She said Santa Monica, for example, has a much better record when it comes to preserving its trees during construction.

“They build around their trees. They preserve their trees, and that’s what we need to do here in Studio City,” Slaughter said.

In the meantime, the stop work order is a small victory, and Slaughter and Myman are joining calls for a full environmental impact report to submit a comprehensive tree assessment for the Sunswept site.

Spectrum News 1 contacted the development company for comment, but there was no response.