Los Angeles city Councilman Bill Rosendahl said he "hit the roof" Thursday when he read a quote on the Weekly's website that could be construed as a sign that he supports a controversial Westside development that just received city Planning Commission approval.
Project developer Michael Lombardi, who had contributed money to Rosendahl's council campaign, praised the councilman, saying "this approval would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of our team, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and his office, and the community ... ." Rosendahl would have none of it Thursday. Although he admitted he had once supported the 12-acre, mixed use development at Bundy Drive and West Olympic Boulevard "in concept," he said Thursday that "Rosendahl does not support the project as-is."
The councilman said he spoke to Lombardi and expressed his disapproval with the quote. Lombardi, in turn, blamed his publicity firm, Cerrell Associates, Inc., for inserting the quote in today's statement on the Planning Commission vote without his approval, according to Rosendahl. The councilman said the developer apologized "profusely."
A representative of Cerrell called the Weekly to amend the quote so that Rosendahl's name would not be mentioned.
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"People have been trying to manipulate my role in this," Rosendahl said. The quote "suggests that I've been collaborating and working with" the developer, he said. "My position has been very clear from day one: I do not support the project as-is."
Rosendahl said he wants most of the retail removed from the proposed development. "There should not be a Whole Foods or any other reason to go to that location," he said, citing his concern over the number of car trips -- an estimated 21,000 a day -- the project would add to West L.A. traffic.
Rosendahl said he also wants the developer to reduce the number of car trips and incorporate housing via a deal with the Jewish Home for the Aged. He has set up a committee comprised of concerned community members to work with Lombardi, but the committee stated that the developer was a no show.
On Thursday Rosendahl said he had secured Lombardi's word that he would meet with the committee in an effort to downsize the project. The process heads next to City Hall, where it will be weighed by a City Council committee and eventually the full council, Rosendahl said.