Will Public Opposition Be Enough to Stop It?

2018 August Editions Front Page News

The proposal to build a five-story, 85,000 square-foot, StorQuest self-storage facility at the west entrance to Eagle Rock has been moving through the city’s review process and could come before the City Council for a final decision as early as this fall.

The public has until mid-August to weigh in on the proposal with the City Planning Department. After that, the staff at City Planning will prepare a report with a recommendation on whether the project should move forward or not; the report is scheduled to be presented to the City Planning Commissioners on Sept. 13. If the commissioners approve the project, the City Council would then need to grant several zoning variances to allow the facility to be built.

Among the needed variances are those to allow for over-sized bulk and height, as well as loss of parking spaces and proximity to nearby residences.

Previous public input – at a special meeting last January of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and a public hearing by City Planning in February – was overwhelmingly opposed to the project on the grounds that it is too big, too ugly and possibly not even needed in the area, given that there is already a storage facility in Glassell Park and another one in Eagle Rock.

Those objections did not result in any meaningful changes by StorQuest to the proposal. But the public outcry did seem to slow down the process, such that the final steps are now occurring six months after the public expressed its antipathy toward the project.

What is likely to happen?

Public input is always a wild card in the fate of big development deals and since there is still time for the public to weigh in, another barrage of negative comments and analysis could make it difficult to approve the project.

Another possible result is that the proposal gets approved by the planning commissioners and goes to the City Council, where, at the final stage, the City Council demands more in the way of public accommodations at the site in exchange for a ‘yes’ vote. Thus far, StorQuest has offered to reserve 600 square feet in the massive building for public use and allow a mural to be painted on one of the walls.

An offer that puny gives the City Council a lot of leeway to ask for a lot more public-use space from StorQuest and get it. Politically, that would be better than a storage facility with no public-use space to speak of, but as a practical matter it would still leave Eagle Rock with a big storage facility at the entrance to town.

If and when the proposal comes before the City Council, the position of Councilmember José Huizar will matter most, because he is the councilmember for Eagle Rock. The Boulevard Sentinel sent an email to Mr. Huizar’s staff, asking  what Mr. Huizar’s latest thoughts were on the facility. We also asked if Mr. Huizar would be open to approving the storage facility if the building included more public-use space and if he thought more public-use space would be a fair trade off for approving the storage facility. We asked if he had pursued or been approached with other ideas about how to use the site.  Rick Coca, Mr. Huizar’s spokesperson wrote back saying, “We are in support of having community space involved in the final project, as the neighborhood has requested.”

To file comments with the City Planning Commission on the StorQuest proposal, email Oliver Netburn, City Planning Associate at oliver.netburn@lacity.org before mid-August.

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