A public hearing was held March 14 in Westwood to consider the federal government’s future plans for housing the FBI Los Angeles Field Office now headquartered at 11000 Wilshire Blvd., generally known as the Westwood Federal Building. The federal General Services Administration (GSA), which builds and manages federal government properties and leases them to various agencies, has identified three alternatives for the FBI Field Office, all of them located at the 11000 Wilshire location.After an FBI presentation as to the need for new facilities, many Westside homeowners and residents, speaking for themselves and for various organizations, urged the GSA to locate new facilities elsewhere, citing traffic and neighborhood security concerns among others, during the evening hearing at the Doubletree Hotel.County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Westside including Westwood and Santa Monica, said that while he appreciates the work of the FBI, a person “can’t help but get the feeling that the U.S. Government has declared war on this community,” referring to development plans regarding several federal properties in the area. Representatives were present from the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Congressman Henry Waxman, Assemblyman Paul Koretz, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council members Bill Rosendahl and Jack Weiss.The federal government published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project in February 2006, and the proposal is now in the Public Comment Period. The March 14 hearing was the only public hearing scheduled on the DEIS; the period for written comments will close April 24, 2006. A Final Environmental Impact Statement and the GSA’s Record of Decision are due to be published in the fall of this year.The GSA alternatives for the future FBI space on Wilshire are, in summary: (1) retain and renovate existing facilities (approx. 600,000 sq. ft.) for non-FBI tenants and build a new office building and evidence storage space (approx. 935,000 sq. ft.) for the FBI; (2) demolish the existing office tower and build new space (approx. 935,000 sq. ft.) for the FBI only “in Two Phases”; and (3) the “no action” alternative. The GSA and FBI appeared to favor alternative 2; some speakers at the hearing questioned where the non-FBI tenants would move in that scenario.FBI Special Agent Matthew McLaughlin explained that the Los Angeles Field Office presently occupies leased space at 11 locations in addition to the offices at 11000 Wilshire, and that the leased spaces are a five to 30 minutes drive from the Westwood Federal Building. In addition to this inefficiency, he said that $185–million in repairs are required at 11000 Wilshire. The GSA stated that it had identified and reviewed 35 other sites for a new FBI Field Office in the Los Angeles area, but that none were deemed acceptable alternatives.Several of the speakers stressed the need for a comprehensive land use proposal from the federal government addressing not only the 11000 Wilshire property, but the adjoining properties of the Veterans Administration and the armory locations at Wilshire and Federal as well. A homeowner from Pacific Palisades described the extent to which Westwood gridlock effects the entire Westside and beyond. Westwood residents spoke of the effects of bomb scares and political protests in addition to the commuter and visitor traffic generated by the existing and proposed federal offices.Public comments must be received by April 24, 2006, and should be sent to: Morris Angell, Regional Environmental Quality Advisor, Portfolio Management Division, Third Floor East, Capital Investment Branch (9PTC), General Services Administration, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102 • email: Morris.Angell@ GSA.gov. Copies of the DEIS are available for review at the GSA Los Angeles Office on the 7th floor at 11000 Wilshire Boulevard, and at the West Los Angeles, Westwood, and Brentwood (Donald Bruce Kaufman) branches of the Los Angeles City Library. Additional information is available on behalf of the federal government at 866-473-2452 or HQFBILA@consensusp.com, and on behalf of local groups at SaveWestwoodVillage@hotmail.com or www.federalbuilding.org.
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