Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Letter to the Department of City Planning - 11005 Bellagio Place President Ron Hudson

Dear Bel-Air Association Members and Neighbors,

Today the Bel-Air Association submitted a letter enclosed below to the City Planning Department regarding a proposed single-family home at 11005 Bellagio Place.  

In summary, the Bel-Air Association is currently focused on addressing the concerns raised by our members about hauling on our streets - both the impacts on safety and access as well as the damage done to our roads.  

As you will see in this letter, and was detailed in our letter on the Tortuoso site, the Bel-Air Association is working to achieve standard conditions which protect us as neighbors with regards to how the hauling is done to ensure the utmost safety for drivers in our community.

In addition, in this letter specifically, we have raised the issue of the bonds that haulers are required to obtain prior to moving dirt on and off site.  

The City requires that bonds be obtained to guarantee that if repairs are needed to the roadways once the hauling is completed that it is done at that time.  Unfortunately, frequently, the City releases these bonds without requiring any repairs.  

To that end, our most recent letter demands that the City hold these haulers accountable and utilize the bonds that are posted by these contractors to do roadway repairs once the project is completed. 

We feel strongly that if hauling must continue, we should at least see repairs getting done!


August 19, 2015

Ms. Darlene Navarrete
Department of City Planning
200 N. Main Street, Rm. 750
Los Angeles, CA 90012

RE:     ENV-2014-3665; 11005 Bellagio Place 

Dear Ms. Navarrete,

Please find below the comments of the Bel-Air Association regarding the published Mitigated Negative Declaration for the project located at 11005 Bellagio Place in the Bel-Air community of the City of Los Angeles.

In reviewing the document, the first item of concern is the cumulative impact finding on page 52 (item XVIII-b). The conclusion to this potentially significant finding is simply that there will be “no net increase in the number of dwelling units” and “the project site is located in an urban setting which [was] already developed primarily with single-family residences.” However, nowhere in the document does it consider the cumulative impacts of hauling in this community by this project, ones that have come before it and ones that will follow. It appears that no analysis was performed at all but merely a box was checked and a statement made that the impacts were resolved.
This data is critical. 

This issue alone encompasses the recent concerns surrounding hauling projects in our community. Many haul routes exist in this community today, some that overlap with this one, or could in the near future. Bel-Air is a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone and has numerous Substandard Limited Hillside Streets, including the street that the project is located on and that the haul route is proposed for. For the safety of our community, this must be considered by this document. 

These very issues have been detailed in projects at 944 Airole Way (BBSC File 130109 and ENV-2013-1578-MND, CF 13-1716 and 10697 Somma Way (BBSC 140029, ENV-2014-197-MND, CF 14-1211). This cumulative impact of projects requires that an EIR be completed on this project.
In addition to these concerns, the MND incorrectly analyzes the traffic impacts, erroneously concluding that the proposed project would “not generate or cause a diversion or shift of more daily a.m. or p.m. peak hour vehicle trips on the street system” merely because “[t]he project will replace an existing 73-year old single family dwelling with a new single-family dwelling.” (Page 46, item XVI.a.) 

The replacement of a single-family dwelling is not an analysis of the haul route’s heavy dump-truck traffic impacts. The haul route includes Bellagio Road from Bellagio Place to Sunset Boulevard. That portion of Bellagio Road is heavily traveled by traffic during peak hours to access Roscomare Road, as an alternate route to the I-405. Additionally, the questionnaire indicates that the hauling will be accomplished with trucks with trailers, a more impactful traffic hazard on Bellagio Road. The haul route should be limited to the least impactful 10-wheel dump trucks, as other Bel-Air haul-routes have. Furthermore, the impacts of this heavy dump- truck traffic has not been properly analyzed alone, nor in conjunction with cumulative impacts from other past, current or future projects, as required by CEQA.

While it is true that this project appears to have been submitted before the current Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) went into effect, the ICO’s prohibition of dirt export above 6,000 cubic yards from Bel- Air, and the City Council’s findings made in support of the adoption of the ICO, show there is an impact here and that it cannot simply be overlooked because they filed a request before the implementation of an ICO. If the conditions exist whereby the Council adopts an ICO with an urgency clause due to the serious impacts on these communities, then clearly a significant impact exists and that must be reviewed in a full EIR.

All of the mitigation measures adopted in the haul route approvals for the Bel-Air projects at 944 Airole Way and 10697 Somma Way should be mitigation measures required in any CEQA approval of this project, in order to mitigate the same substantial effects that this haul route project will have on the health, safety and welfare of the Bel-Air community. Those restrictions include, but are not limited to, the following:

1.    No crossing of two hauling vehicles shall be allowed in Bel-Air. (Once one hauling vehicle leaves Bel-Air, the next hauling vehicle may enter.) (BBSC letter dated September 2, 2014, page 2, BF#140029);
2.    All hauling vehicles must be identified by a unique placard prominently identifying the project address and prominently displayed in the front windshield of such vehicle. (BBSC letter dated September 2, 2014, page 2, BF#140029);
3.    The hauling operations are restricted to the hours between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays only. No hauling allowed on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays. Haul vehicles may not arrive at the site before the designated start time. (BBSC letter dated September 2, 2014, page 1, BF#140029);
4.    All clearing, earth moving, or excavation activities shall be discontinued during periods of high winds (i.e., greater than 15 mph), so as to prevent excessive amounts of dust (ENV-2013-1578- MND and ENV-2014-197-MND, page 2);
5.    All dirt/soil loads shall be secured by trimming, other appropriate means (other than watering) to prevent spillage and dust (modified from ENV-2013-1578-MND and ENV-2014-197-MND, page 2);
6.    All dirt/soil materials transported off-site shall be securely covered to prevent excessive amounts of dust (modified from ENV-2013-1578-MND and ENV-2014-197-MND, page 2);
7.    General contractors shall maintain and operate construction equipment so as to minimize exhaust emissions (ENV-2013-1578-MND and ENV-2014-197-MND, page 2); and
8.    Trucks having no current hauling activity shall not idle but be turned off (ENV-2013-1578-MND and ENV-2014-197-MND, page 2).

Further, we feel strongly that due to the nature of the hauling we have seen in our community these additional conditions must be added:

1.    All flagmen shall be properly trained, not construction workers taken from a job site and just given a vest and handheld traffic sign;
2.    All flagmen shall be prohibited from smoking or consuming alcoholic beverages while on duty;
3.    All flagmen shall remove all of their trash from their stationed location upon being relieved of duty for any period of time.
In closing we would point out that the project description is incomplete because it does not disclose the total amount of dirt that will be exported as part of the project. It only discloses the amount of dirt for which a hauling permit is required by the Los Angeles Municipal Code.  This is a concern because we are aware that there are amounts of dirt that are considered “exempt” under the Code and regardless of that exemption, ALL hauling causes impacts on circulation, safety and the condition of our streets.  To that end we would also like to request that once the hauling is complete that a thorough review of the route be conducted by Public Works prior to the bond being released by the City.  

It is our experience that our roads are left pock marked with potholes and other damage from these trucks.  However, it is also our experience that the City does not hold these contractors accountable for the repairs.  The City has the capability through the bonds held to make sure these repairs are done.  It is imperative that the projects be held accountable for the damages.

We would appreciate your attention to and response to all of the above comments.

Respectfully submitted,
Ron Hudson