A public hearing to consider the pros and cons of a proposed 7-Eleven project in Eagle Rock was deferred indefinitely at City Hall Wednesday because the zoning administrator who presided over the hearing said that the project’s applicants had not taken certain steps to conduct public outreach about their venture.
City of Los Angeles Associate Zoning Administrator Fernando Tovar said that the developers of the proposed 7-Eleven store on York Boulevard and Tonawanda Avenue had failed to follow city rules that require applicants for a business to post a sign about their public hearing on the premises of their planned project at least 10 days earlier. (The only sign on the premises of the proposed 7-Eleven is a Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control "Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages. See photo.)
The developers had also not mailed letters to residents and business owners within a 500-foot radius of the project, directly informing them about the hearing, Tovar said.
The lack of necessary outreach, which Tovar dubbed as “notice deficient,” meant that “we’re not able to be able to hold the hearing today—we’re going to have to reschedule the hearing.”
Last Thursday, the Land Use Committee of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council recommended a conditional approval of the proposed 7-Eleven as the key tenant in commercial center that would be located at 4515-4527 E. York Blvd. and 1507 N. Tonawanda Ave., in the premises of the former Casa Princesa café, which doubled as a Sign-A-Rama store. The matter will be discussed and possibly voted on by the full ERNC board at its monthly meeting at Eagle Rock City Hall on Feb. 5.
About 15 people, including Occidental College Director of Communications Jim Tranquada and a few residents who said they live near the proposed site on Tonawanda Avenue, had turned up for Wednesday’s hearing. It was scheduled at 10 a.m. but didn’t begin until half an hour later—and many of those in attendance had to wait in long lines to enter City Hall on what happened to be a busy day at the City Council.
Tovar said he would take the opportunity, nonetheless, to address certain “technical issues” about the proposed project that he was prepared to bring up before becoming aware of the lack of mandatory outreach.
“I did receive plenty of e-mails and objections to the request,” he said before plunging into the details of the proposed project.
“What’s before me is a request for 7-Eleven to establish the offsite sale of alcoholic beverages,” Tovar began, adding that the applicants had also requested a “deviation from the mini shopping mall ordinance” that would allow the store to remain open for 24 hours and sell alcoholic beverages from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Tovar said it was his understanding that the proposed project site consists of a 2,040-sq. ft. building constructed in 1985, a 600-sq. ft. building constructed in 1940 and another 600-sq.ft. building constructed in 1934, for a total of 3,240 square feet.
“It looks like you’re going to be demolishing the two existing small buildings and you’re going to be constructing an L-shaped building covering an area of 7,013 square feet,” he said.
That plan, said Tovar, might require an amended application—“you’ll have to double-check this with [the Department of] Building and Safety.”
Tom Bergerson, an architect for 7-Eleven, responded that “our application is focused on just the tenant improvement and new business development in the existing large building of the three—the 2,100-sq. ft. building.” 7-Eleven, Bergerson said, is “not pursuing” construction on the two other buildings.”
He added: “The developer—if and when 7-Eleven receives its entitlements—will have the ability to finance a project with his lender, and he will submit a separate application for the entire proposed development. The sequence of that is entirely dependent on an anchor tenant for this small center to be able to be get entitled. If you cannot get a tenant for that building, he would not be able to pursue the overall development."
Bergerson said the project was designed to create minimum impact on the surrounding residential areas. “We look at this as an opportunity for 7-Eleven to come in and make an improvement to the existing site, which has been vacant and abandoned for several years.
In fact, said Bergerson, the Los Angeles Police Department’s “crime stats for the area were based on an empty, vacant site. We feel that if there’s a new business in there those crime rates would go down."
Tobar responded to Bergerson’s statements by saying that he would “not get into the merits of the request since I’m not going to take it up at this point of time.”
The site plan that the developers submitted “should not even show the proposed buildings that may or may not be developed, especially since it’s contingent on the owner securing the lease with 7-Eleven and ultimately, as a result of that, may or may not be able to secure financing,” Tobar said.
Bergerson told Patch that he and his associates behind the proposed development would start the whole outreach process afresh.
There’s no date set so far for a rescheduled hearing, which would depend on how quickly the applicants complete the necessary outreach, Tobar told Patch after the hearing.