On August 4, against the stated wishes of thousands of Westside residents and eleven homeowner associations and other community organizations, Councilmember Mike Bonin disappointed our communities by urging his fellow City Council members to approve the massive Archer expansion project. And the Council proceeded to do just that. (See the new Archer School Conditional Use Permit here.)
We are very disappointed that Councilmember Bonin failed to follow through on some of his commitments to his constituents in his letters of April 2015 to require further conditions limiting the project.
Councilmember Bonin has also stated inaccurately that the “Residential Neighbors of Archer” signed the covenant that embodies a settlement that only two members of RNA actually signed, in their individual capacities. RNA was not a party to any settlement, despite what you may have heard or read. Virtually all members of RNA continue to oppose the Archer project as far too large and far too impactful, including the massive impacts its construction phase will have on Sunset traffic six days a week for 36 months or more, at the same time as several other construction projects. RNA is now a member of the Sunset Coalition.
The Archer project remains very controversial, as you will see in the press coverage listed here. The fight goes on!
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The position of the Sunset Coalition and RNA remains that the recent changes in the Archer project are very substantial, and that Archer’s refusal to publicly release its updated construction schedules and to update its studies of air quality and health impacts means that the Council’s action was based on stale, incomplete and inaccurate information.
Specifically, in February 2015 Archer compressed its construction schedule into 36 months, from the original 74 months, but with only modest reductions in the actual work to be done. This means that during some months, there will be three separate construction activities happening concurrently onsite – and substantially more construction vehicles arriving and departing the site each day during the new period of overlap.
Second, in March 2015 Archer stated that it is deferring the start of construction to May 2017 – which would thus coincide with the proposed construction by nearby Brentwood School, as well as the large project in Pacific Palisades recently filed by the Caruso group and the proposed expansion project of Mount St. Mary’s University.
Third, more restrictive air quality standards (OEHHA guidance) were adopted by the state in March 2015 and AQMD (Air Quality Management District) in June. They reflect advances in the field of risk assessment along with explicit consideration of infants and schoolchildren, as “sensitive receptors”. In its filings, Archer continues to use an outdated standard that our consultant found that even in the six year construction phase would put Archer’s schoolchildren at risk for higher levels of cancer causing exposure. As they state in their July 28 letter, “The cancer risk is expected to increase approximately 10-fold for short term events, such as construction, under the new guidelines because of the added sensitivity toward younger populations. The new guidance would push the already significant health risk under the old guidance well into the hundreds of cancer cases per million people.”
Because the foregoing constitute very substantial changes in the project, our position remains that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) mandates that Archer update its construction schedules and related studies of air quality and health impacts, and allow a reasonable period for public comment and independent review – which Archer has so far refused to do, even though its new start date is almost two years away.
In addition, we continue to believe that the Archer project remains far too large and far too impactful, particularly as the size of the project will involve so much construction traffic (and unlimited use of flagmen) that will severely worsen traffic on Sunset six days a week for 36 months or more.
We are outraged that in every communication to the public and the press, Councilmember Bonin studiously avoided even mention of the massive construction traffic that the Archer expansion project will involve, addressing only the far smaller traffic impacts of Archer’s post-construction activities.
Archer’s filing with the City (Appendix C-2 to its Environmental Impact Report) details over 133,000 construction vehicle round trips, each of which will have to cross the chokepoint Sunset/Barrington intersection both arriving and departing. And Archer has the unlimited right to use flagmen to stop traffic on Sunset six days a week for 36 months to facilitate its construction vehicles entering and leaving the worksite, but Councilmember Bonin refuses to even address the issue of construction traffic.