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  1. Gerald A. Silver

    Studio City Sherman Oaks Encino News – October 2014
    Sunkist – More of the Same
    By Gerald A. Silver

    IMT Capital, LLC is seeking to build a massive mixed-use project on the 8.3-acre Sunkist Growers building site at 14130 and 14154t Riverside Dr. in Sherman Oaks. The Sunkist building would be retained as part of the expansion project that includes 298 multi-family residential units and 39,241 sq. ft. of commercial with 7,241 sq. ft. of restaurant use. This project will add 359,795 sq. ft. to the existing 128,674 sq. ft. creating a mega-project with a little under one-half million sq. ft.
    The Sunkist Project has been described as Il Villaggio’s Toscano’s Unidentical Twin. Together they will suck up the last drop of water, energy, solid waste and infrastructure and are guaranteed to create more traffic nightmares. IMT has labeled the mega-development project “ICON Sherman Oaks”. Gone will be the view of the attractive, well designed Sunkist building with its greenery and open space — replaced by three huge high-density 296 unit apartment/commercial buildings. Residents should not be surprised that the Planning Dept. will walk through the usual EIR charade and when finished will rubber stamp the project “OK”

    Developers line up a few supporters, most of whom do not live near the project. Money and political influence are used to lobby the project through the entitlement process. The result is more traffic, congestion and neighborhood problems.

    On July 15, 2014 IMT held a “Scoping Meeting” in Sherman Oaks that described the project replete with large display placards but with scant details. The blissful artist’s renderings overshadowed the full scope of the project. IMT is seeking significant entitlements, known in planning jargon as “discretionary actions.”

    They are asking for a Vesting Tract Map in order to subdivide the property from C2 office to create a group of “air space” lots. They also seek zone changes to convert the current parking areas to RAS3 zoning. RAS zones were adopted by the City Council in 2002 to encourage greater density development along “underutilized commercial transportation” corridors. RAS3 zones permit massive structures with dense apartments or condos above ground floor retail.

    Over-shadowing the entire entitlement process are the political considerations, and they play a big part. Much of the final outcome rests on the acceptance or denial of the project by the Councilmember who controls CD 4. The process currently hinges on the wishes of Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who had no problem supporting the massive Il Villaggio Toscano project that is now being litigated by unhappy community residents. Nor should residents anticipate much resistance from the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council that approved the Il Villaggio Toscano project. Expect more of the same.

    To review the Sunkist EIR Request and the EIR Initial Study, go to:
    http://sunkistbuildingexpansion.com/publications/

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    Gerald A. Silver is President of Homeowners of Encino. He served on the Citizens Advisory Committee that helped craft the Ventura Blvd. Specific Plan. He can be reached at gsilver4@earthlink.net.

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