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VSA Calls for Ferris Wheel Environmental Impact Study
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Topic Rating: 3.3Topic Rating: 3.3Topic Rating: 3.3Topic Rating: 3.3Topic Rating: 3.3 Topic Rating: 3.3 (32 votes) 
March 19, 2012
11:46 am
Bret
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From The Venice Stakeholders Association:

The Venice Stakeholders Association has called for the City of Los Angeles to perform a full Environmental Impact Report on the proposal to place a 200 foot Ferris wheel in the Venice Beach Recreation Area at the foot of Windward Avenue.

Venice Beach Ferris Wheel Mockup by Mick

“The parking, traffic and scenic impacts of the Ferris Wheel installation are highly problematic for our neighborhood,” said Mark Ryavec, VSA president. “Oddly, the firm proposing the Wheel has offered no mitigation.”

In a letter to City Recreation and Parks officials, the VSA’s attorney, John Henning, notes that the Wheel could draw up to 16,320 visitors per day, based upon the capacity of the Wheel given at a recent public hearing by a representative of Great City Attractions, the firm proposing the installation.

“The Ferris wheel would operate 12 hours per day, 7 days per week, from 10 AM to 10 PM,” Henning wrote. “It contains approximately 40 “capsules” in which riders would sit, and there are 8 seats per capsule, for a total of approximately 320 riders when fully loaded. Each cycle (i.e., “ride”) of the Ferris wheel lasts about 14 minutes, so there would be approximately 51 cycles per day, for a total of 16,320 individual riders per day.”

Henning also points out that unlike a restaurant, which turns over its seating every 60 to 90 minutes, the Wheel will turn over its seats every 14 minutes, so the Wheel will generate four to six times has many visitors clamoring for a ride….and seeking non-existent parking.

A restaurant of that size would be required to provide 80 parking spaces under the Venice Local Coastal Specific Plan, the City land-use ordinance that governs development in Venice. Great City Attractions has offered no parking or traffic mitigation.

“We’re asking the City to apply to itself the same land-use rules that it would apply to any other new development of this size in our neighborhood,” Ryavec said.

Click here to download the PDF of the Venice Stakeholders "Letter to LA City Recreation and Parks Department".

March 19, 2012
1:51 pm
Mick
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The London Eye did not have any additional parking either.

The amount of people who can ride on the wheel is irrelevant. What's important is how much this new attraction will increase the total visitor load to Venice Beach as a whole. Will people be making a special trip to Venice for a 14 minute ride? Or will the ridership be largely drawn from the existing visitor base?

It seems to me that people who visit Venice anyway will make up a very large portion of the ridership, it will simply be one part of a larger trip. Just like the London Eye is incorporated into the itineraries of people who were visiting London anyway.  

So their math regarding parking spaces is nonsense. 

March 19, 2012
2:22 pm
venicestakeholders
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Mick,

That's not the way land-use rules operate in most jurisdictions, with all due respect to the City of London.

Venice has a deep and historic parking deficit.  The Venice Local Coastal Specific Plan was crafted to address that deficit.  New developments that cater to the public must provide new, additional parking for a portion of the expected customer base.  If the Ferris Wheel were proposed for privately held land anywhere in Venice it would have to meet those parking requirements - it's the only way we ever improve the situation.  We believe that under CEQA the City has to abide by the same rules that the private sector has to follow. 

The issue is not that the prospective patrons of the Ferris Wheel might already be here; the issue is that new development legally has to help address the historic deficit or we will only compound an unacceptable problem for residents (and visitors who circle endlessly trying to find parking).

Mark

March 19, 2012
3:05 pm
Mick
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But your numbers are still total nonsense. This is clearly not the same thing as putting in a brand new 1600 seat restaurant on Abbot Kinney. 

If the issue is that new development should address existing deficits, then why does your letter make no mention of this? Instead you very specifically claim that the ferris wheel will cause "more than five times the traffic impacts of a 320-seat restaurant", with zero evidence for this. Since that's the basis of the letter, then the issue is very much about if the prospective patrons of the Ferris Wheel would already be visiting anyway. 

The letter does not read like an attempt to get more parking, it reads like a scare story attempting to paint the wheel in the worst possible light. 

I'd like to see a realistic assessment of how much new car traffic Venice Beach would see from the addition of this wheel.

March 19, 2012
4:27 pm
venicestakeholders
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You're misreading the press release.  The Wheel would be the equivalent of a 320 seat restaurant (about three times the seating of Gjelina), but with much more frequent patron turnover. Not a 1,600 seat restaurant.

Usually, the project advocate for a large development like this pays for a professional traffic engineer to perform a parking study as part of the EIR.  This then advises the decision-makers, in this case the councilman and the Recreation and Parks Commission. We're not traffic engineers, so our attorney's numbers are suggestive of what a traffic engineer might find.  Which why we've called for a full EIR.  The restaurant is given as an example and does not supplant the EIR process. 

But you still are missing the fundamental point:  any new development is required by law to provide parking by a formula in the Venice Specific Plan, even though we all know that by adding a new boutique or one more restaurant parking demand will not increase appreciably. 

The point of the parking requirement is to address the historic deficit so that eventually visitors aren't parking east of AK on residential streets to go to the the beach.

March 19, 2012
6:01 pm
Mick
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venicestakeholders said

You're misreading the press release.  The Wheel would be the equivalent of a 320 seat restaurant (about three times the seating of Gjelina), but with much more frequent patron turnover. Not a 1,600 seat restaurant.

It's really not the equivalent of a restaurant at all, but your letter says:

In terms of traffic, the Ferris wheel would cause more than five times the traffic impacts of a 320-seat restaurant, because each “seating” of the Ferris wheel is just 14 minutes long, while a restaurant’s seating is typically between 60 and 90 minutes long

If something has five times the impact of a 320 seat restaurant, then it's the equivalent of a 1,600 seat restaurant. 

Your lawyer's letter raises the bizarre idea that there would be 320 new people arriving over 14 minutes, each staying 14 minutes, and then driving away. That's about a car with two people every five seconds. 

Yes, new developments are required by law to provide parking by a formula in the Venice Specific Plan, which gives formulae for various types of establishments.  Restaurants are "One space for each 50 square feet of Service Floor". There is no entry for Ferris Wheels, amusement parks, or similar attractions. So it defaults to "Other Uses Not Listed", where the formula is "Parking shall be provided as determined by the City’s Department of Transportation."

The intent of the parking requirements is to match the number of spaces to the number of spaces that that development uses. I'm all for more parking, but it should be based on an analysis of the projected increase (in any) in existing traffic, not some equating of a Ferris wheel to a giant restaurant. 

March 19, 2012
6:21 pm
venicestakeholders
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That, in fact, is the capacity.  I was talking with a reporter about this today and we looked up the stats on the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier.  It's only 82 feet tall, compared to the Great Observation Wheel proposed for Venice at 200 feet.  The seats on the Santa Monica wheel are not enclosed; the seats on the proposed Great Observation Wheel are in an enclosed capsule, so weather will not be such an issue.  The reporter mentioned that she did visit London in large part to ride on the London Eye.  The reporter also pointed out that London, unlike Venice, is well served by an extensive subway system. Despite the claims of the representative of Great City Attractions that a Venice Observation Wheel would largely cater to visitors who would be here anyway, it is just as likely that a Venice Wheel will become by itself a prime destination.  So, it is possible that the wheel, at least at times, would operate at full capacity, having the daily parking load described in our letters.

We will have to agree to disagree about: "The intent of the parking requirements is to match the number of spaces to the number of spaces that that development uses."  The inclusion of the Beach Impact Zone requirement, which goes beyond City parking code requirements, and the EIR process itself will (or should) require more parking than just that related to the load of the new development.  The requirements are about - over time - solving the existing, historic shortage, not just parking the new demand generated by the development.

March 20, 2012
7:00 am
cch
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I think you should mention the parking problem, big one, that the construction of this visual obstruction will cause.

Construction workers have a way of taking all the street and alley parking and blocking pedestrian easements.

March 20, 2012
9:50 am
bob
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This whole proposal is stupid - nobody is going to make a special trip to ride this ferris wheel.  The fears about traffic seem a tad overblown as well.  There is already a mostly unused ferris wheel about a mile down the beach in Santa Monica.  This is not Chicago in 1893 - nobody is so impressed by a ferris wheel that they feel the need go see what it is all about.  This is not even London in 2000 where the ferris wheel was a symbol of the new millennium.  Comparing this to a hot new 320 seat restaurant is ridiculous.  The more accurate comparison would be comparing it to an Arby's that hasn't been remodeled in 8 years - you might go in there if you are nearby and hungry, but you're not driving in from the valley for it.

March 20, 2012
10:01 am
Shane
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I'd guess that this wheel is being pushed by local businesses. It's easier to get a Ferris Wheel than get the OFW to be patrolled consistently and responsibly.

March 20, 2012
10:04 am
Ms. Venice
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200 feet equals anywhere from 15 - 35 stories which means that it will violate the height limits set by the Coastal Commission.

Love your bike.
March 20, 2012
10:13 am
aquaman
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bob said

 nobody is going to make a special trip to ride this ferris wheel.

Yes they will.  Tourists and people from other parts of the city will come here to see and ride the Ferris Wheel.  What are you thinking?  They're gonna build a Ferris Wheel for people who are already here, just walking by and they'll notice it and say, "Oh look, a Ferris Wheel. Let's ride it." Really???  This thing will be featured on many, many media outlets and it will attract people.  That's why they call it an "attraction". 

I think it's a cheeseball idea for the city to try to make a quick buck at our expense and it will be a big pain in the ass. 

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