Saturday, October 22, 2016

Atwater council calls for new traffic study to be conducted for mega church

The Atwater Village Neighborhood Council on Thursday night requested a new traffic study be conducted for a so-called “mega church” proposed  behind the Costco shopping center,  deeming the previous study to be flawed because  it failed to include Sundays, the most frequent day for Christian religious services.

The previous study also took into account travelers using driveways along Verdant Street, which won’t be allowed  when and if the New Vision Church begins services begin at the proposed  85,000-square-foot  building, according to officials who reviewed the study.

Board member Edward Morrissey, who drafted a letter requesting that the city undertake a new traffic study, also noted that the previous report had assumed that an estimated 602 church goers would drive to and from the church throughout the day. The letter urged the city to factor in the large number of attendees coming all at once to attend services.

“They spread traffic throughout the day as if people were going to a store, not an event with a set start and end time,” remarked attendee Monica Waggoner, who said she had a masters in urban planning with a focus on transportation from UCLA.

The church leaders disputed the attendance numbers, which the city based on the square footage of the property. Church elder Johg Choi said that between 75 to 150 attendees showed up at their services at present

At last month’s meeting, representatives of the church gave varying estimates for the number of attendees, ranging from 200 to 700. Last night the organization’s leaders claim the congregants only show up in the their largest numbers once or twice a year. The supermarket-sized church, athletic facility and sprawling parking lot would be built on a 20-acre parcel now occupied by a tent-like building and other structures that have in the past been used by a church called New Hope Chapel.

Board member Alex Ventura, a supporter of the church’s current plans, proposed an amendment to the letter, which passed, requesting the city allow the church to add their own numbers to the study.

The letter’s opponents critiqued the letter’s conclusions because Edward Morrissey was the sole reader of the study. The document did not pass through the council’s Environmental Land Use Committee.

Opponents of the mega church don’t take issue with a religious organization building on the 20 acre lot, but are concerned about the project’s size and potential impact on traffic.

“We’re inviting Dodger’s Stadium to our neighborhood,” said Jordan Burwick.

Choi pointed out the organization already allows customers at the adjoining big box stores to take spaces in their parking lot. He says the number of seats in the proposed 85,000 square foot building aren’t an issue, and doesn’t see a reason why they shouldn’t build a large church on a 20 acre property.

The leaders of the spiritual organization said the property will contain more than just a “sanctuary.” Nathan Hur, a member of the church, said the grounds will include a gym and wedding chapel.

“There’s a huge parking lot because the land cannot be used for anything else,” he said, a reference to contamination on the lot.

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  1. If they only have 150 people attending a service, why would they be considering an 85,000 sq ft building?

  2. This whole plan doesn’t make sense. If their congregation isn’t that large, why a 85,000 sq ft building, with 1107 parking spaces?! And with 1107 planned parking spaces, how can the city report assume only 602 visitors? The whole thing seems hinky. If I lived nearby, I would be very suspicious. I would wonder why the city is doing an inadequate and inaccurate assessment, and why some neighborhood council members seem to be wanting to push it through.

    • Yes – it is very curious. It’s almost as if some folks from the city or those on the Neighborhood Council stand to benefit financially in a big way from a 14-month construction project with absolutely no benefit whatsoever to the rest of the community. I wonder if there are any contractors on the AVNC who are all in favor of this proposal…what’s that you say, there are? What a shock. This whole thing is moving forward very quickly and very quietly because there are undoubtedly a few palms getting grea$ed along the way. It’s shameful.

  3. Please don’t let them build their mega-church. The amount of extra polution and contamination would be very taxing and significant to the surrounding neighborhood. This area already takes on a great portion of polution from the freeways, the commuter trains, the air-traffic, the shopping areas, etc. Allowing them to have their Mega-Church is not an option. For the sake of the health of the adults, children, and elderly citizens that have strived to make a life and home for themselves in the area.

    The Mega-Church is a bad idea! In addition how many churches are already exist in the area? If there are ordinaces and limit to the bulding types … why is there not a limit to the amount of churches in an area. Shall we have more churches than starbucks?

  4. i was at that hearing (for something else). i wouldn’t want that next to my house, but it seemed like they were going to have no problems getting that church built. they had done everything the code required and the city seemed to have no problems with it whatsoever. too bad for the neighbors.

    FWIW: from an outsiders perspective; the city didn’t seem moved by your testimonials of an idyllic atwater existence, definitions of the word “village,” worries about noise or dust, or comparisons to the last church that was there. would seem like you should be combing the codes and looking for something that could potentially be a violation. good luck to all of the atwater folks, hope it doesn’t get built.

  5. Traffic is the big issue here, and the one the City is dodging.

    The proposed parking lot will be almost as big as the combined lots in front of Best Buy and Costco. That part of Los Feliz is already already traffic-choked with big-box shoppers, and they’re going to add 1000 cars (arriving more or less at the same time) with no effect on traffic?

    And we’re supposed to believe there will be NO entrance on Verdant (even though the previous plans showed a driveway there), and that ALL cars will enter from Los Feliz, going down Revere Ave to an entrance behind the Best Buy? That doesn’t seem credible. Revere isn’t even a real street here — it’s a narrow, clogged access lane to a series of parking lots, with multiple stop signs. Since the Church building fronts on Verdant, people are going to be dropped off on that side, and will park on surrounding streets.

    • that’s what I’m talking about. that guy at the city is not swayed by “hunches.” you need to come up with something more solid than this argument or he will just rubber stamp it. this was mentioned at the hearing and the plans don’t show entrances on Verdant; so he has to go based on that. not conjecture about what they may or may not do in the future. i agree with you guys, but you’re using an ineffective strategy.

      • Monica Waggoner

        The plans *do* show a driveway on Verdant; however, there’s a Q condition that requires that driveway to be closed to routine traffic. It is *only* there for fire department access in an emergency.

        However, the traffic study appears to have allocated some of the anticipated traffic to that driveway, which would be inappropriate given the Q condition restricting its use.

        • if the traffic study allocates traffic to that driveway, you should demonstrate that. no one mentioned that at the meeting I went to (at least not clearly). I heard some people mention that “of course they’re going to use the driveway,” but no mention of the study allocating traffic to it. good luck.

  6. Monica Waggoner

    The 602 daily trips are a projection based on the square footage and intended use of the structure, not based on actual current attendance in a smaller building at a different location. That’s as it should be.

    The parking, also, *is* in excess of the requirements given the structure size and use. I have no doubt that more Costco/Best Buy/Toys R Us shoppers will be using the parking than churchgoers.

    But the fact remains… during much of Sunday, which will be the church’s peak activity day, the area immediately inside the driveways is already saturated and somewhat dangerous due to the traffic pattern. To mitigate the impact on Los Feliz Blvd., the intersections inside the complex give right-of-way to incoming traffic. For anyone who has ever gotten off an elevator, this is extremely counter-intuitive, leading to a lot of confusion, turbulance, and near-misses. Adding even 100 cars in a single hour to this will definitely lower the Level of Service at the intersections.

    Fact is, the City DOT did not adequately account for the intended use of the facility when calculating the impact of the traffic. I hope they do a new study that takes into account Sunday traffic, as well as accurately distributing the traffic with respect to time of day and geography.

    BTW, the numbers that the applicant disputed (and were changed via amendment) were the statement that there are currently 500-700 attendees at *each* of the five Sunday services. They clarified that the attendance figures for the most recent Sunday ranged from 100-450. Still, they totaled about 800-900 from what I could tell, which would be about that many trips (because even though the average car may contain two people, each car has an incoming and outgoing trip).

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