What’s the benefit to the community?

We can’t find one.   The school’s promotional materials bill the bridge as a “gateway to the community” — but it benefits only the school, at great detriment to the hillside and the neighborhood.  The only people who would use the new bridge are those going from the garage to the school.

Will the athletic field disrupt the neighborhood?

Lighting towers as high as 87 feet tall will undoubtedly bother nearby neighbors.  But even hillside residents up and across the canyon will have a new eyesore to ruin their canyon views.  Wildlife will be affected all the way to the Mulholland Corridor (only 185 feet away).  Soccer balls kicked over the netting could easily land on Coldwater into traffic.  It’s one thing if cars are backed up and barely moving, but entirely more dangerous if cars are going 30-40 miles per hour.

How will this affect me? I don’t live nearby.

Construction and delays — increased traffic — affect commuters and anyone who drives this canyon road. 

The proposed excavation involves over 135,000 cubic yards of soil! The excavation and construction is estimated to take over TWO YEARS.

Any delays on Coldwater affect traffic on Beverly Glen and Laurel Canyon, as well as other hillside routes.

Read the Brohard & Associates Traffic Impact Report (Nov. 2013)

Does less than pristine land need protecting?

Even disturbed land, if designated “desirable open space,” deserves protection. This land is zoned minimal and low residential — there is no school use on the West side of Coldwater and the open space land should NOT be urbanized. The “heavily vegetated” land (Draft Environmental Impact Report, p. 3.5-3) is directly adjacent to Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy land, and the project site is part of the known wildlife corridor that runs East of the 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Hillside Federation and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy saw the importance of protecting this open space from urbanization and both voted unanimously to OPPOSE such a massive development on the West side of Coldwater Canyon.

Read the Hillside Federation letter of opposition.

Read the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy letter of opposition.

But there is going to be an additional southbound traffic lane, wont that help traffic?

The bottom line is 500 additional parking spaces means 500 more cars routinely driving the canyon road at rush hour and other times. The new Southland lane will be minimal (imagine how long 500 cars lined up lasts — the new lane isn’t nearly that long)… and the lane of Northbound traffic waiting to turn LEFT into the garage will need to cross the already congested Southbound traffic.

Two lanes merging back into one just South of the garage only creates a bottleneck with more congestion!

The Brohard & Associates Traffic Impact report challenges many other assertions by the school about the supposed traffic benefits of this parking expansion plan.

Coldwater traffic is bad enough! Either the garage will sit empty (and therefore isn’t needed), or MORE CARS will crowd Coldwater.

Isn’t there a need for parking?

The school already has 30% more parking than the law requires.  Does every student really need their own parking spot on campus??  Shouldn’t the school be promoting carpooling and other environmentally responsible choices from its students?

Neither the Brohard & Associates expert report, nor the School’s own Traffic report, could prove a single school-related car was a nuisance to the nearby neighborhood, and assumed — but could not prove — that only 28 cars in the entire neighborhood were school-related. (Yet they say they need 750 spaces?!)

Until 2013 when this garage was proposed, the school argued time and again to the City (since 1992) that they have “ample” parking to meet their needs. Other LA schools in residential hillside communities have embraced carpooling and nearby shuttles during special events — LOWERING their carbon footprint. Harvard-Westlake should be a leader in environmental stewardship and work with the community to minimize its impact on the environment and nearby residences.

What about student safety? Don’t some of them park on neighborhood streets?

Very few.  The school strongly discourages it and there are only a few big events each year that create overflow into the neighborhood.  Coldwater is no more dangerous than any other place to park in LA — arguably safer because the street is wider right by the campus.

Let’s talk about safety: the Wilson Geosciences Report found that the proposed bridge across Coldwater is “likely to fail” in a moderate to large earthquake, given the different types of soil on each side of Coldwater Canyon. If an earthquake like the Northridge quake happens, students, faculty and staff would be in danger, and the collapsed bridge would block a major artery for emergency vehicles into and out of the canyon.

I heard some of the protected trees are diseased anyway.

The initial study found some walnut trees with disease.  But their roots are still protecting the hillside from erosion.  Plant and animal species are protected even when they have disease or injury.

Even trees with “canker disease” create walnuts and provide habitat for the many sensitive biological resources found on site. Furthermore, NONE of the oaks trees are diseased, and the particular disease (potentially in only 78% of the walnuts) has not been found to be fatal in the walnut trees (Southern Black walnut) that are present on site. (see Land Protection Partners Biological Impact Report, Dec. 2013)

Is this hillside safe to develop?

Wilson Geosciences prepared an expert report detailing numerous SAFETY CONCERNS with the project:

1) massive retaining walls — far in excess of legal limits — and the inadequacies of the proposed “soil nails for the walls, making it likely that the walls will fail over time.

2) the proposed private bridge over Coldwater Canyon is “likely to fail” in a moderate to large earthquake given the different types of soil on each side of Coldwater Canyon.

(Wilson Geosciences Report, Nov. 2013)

3) other homeowners on Potosi Ave were denied permits due to concerns of hillside stability in this area.