The Los Angeles City Council approved Archer’s multimillion dollar campus renovation plan on Tuesday. The Council unanimously supported the plan after approval from both the City Planning Commission and the Planning and Land Use Management Committee earlier this year. Mayor Eric Garcetti is to sign off on the plan in 10 days.
“I’m just incredibly grateful right now because Brentwood is the hardest neighborhood to complete any kind of project in, and we’ve just had such incredible support and devotion from our community,” Head of School Elizabeth English said.
“I haven’t run a marathon, but if this is what it feels like, I’ll go run one tomorrow,” Archer’s communications consultant Steve Sugerman said immediately after the council’s decision was announced.
The final plan allows for new performing and visual arts centers, gym space for middle and upper schoolers and underground parking on campus. One of the compromises Archer made with the neighbors was forgoing an aquatics center. The plan limits the construction period to three years and prevents the school from expanding further for 20 years.
“Even though [the concessions] are going to restrict our flexibility a little bit, they’re all things we can live with. Getting the compromise so that the immediate neighbors are in support was a really important thing for the process,” said Cindy Starrett, one of Archer’s land use attorneys of Latham and Watkins.
“I said I would not approve a project that made traffic worse. This project will actually reduce traffic on Sunset,” Councilman Mike Bonin said in his statement to the City Council.
Bonin acknowledged how Archer will combat congestion in what he calls one of the “worst traffic choke points on the Westside.”
“There is going to be a trip cap limiting the number of cars that can come to school annually. Seventy-six percent of students at this school will come by bus and the rest of them will come by carpool,” he said. “Teachers are limited on their time of arrival, some of them have to show up before seven a.m.”
“The traffic reductions are absolutely groundbreaking and they’re actually, unlike many of the things the city does in the planning process, enforceable,” he said. “This is a new standard. My job is to make sure that these standards are the ones that we hold all of the other institutions to. If we can do for the other schools and the other institutions on this corridor what this agreement does to Archer, we will see a genuine, significant and appreciable reduction in traffic.”
In a public statement released after the Council hearing, opponents indicated that they might file a law suit under the California Environmental Quality Act.
“We have prepared ourselves for any eventuality. If litigation is filed we will be prepared to meet that challenge,” Barbara Bruser, chair of the Archer Board of Trustees said.
Construction is to begin in 2017.
“It’s a fabulous project, it’s a fantastic school, we absolutely love it and we can’t wait to build it,” Craig Jameson, one of the architects, said.