Butcher Hill / Solana apartment complex 2019

Local residents are invited to comment on a just-released environmental analysis of the 248-unit Solana apartment complex on the border of Torrance, Palos Verdes Estates and Rolling Hills Estates near Butcher Hill. (Artist’s rendition courtesy ReyLenn Properties).

Many local residents who commented on a just-released draft environmental analysis for the proposed 248-unit Solana apartment complex — sandwiched between such traditional single-family home dominant communities as Torrance, Rolling Hills Estates and Palos Verdes Estates — have expressed concern about the multi-family residential development.

The size of the proposal raised eyebrows among residents when it was initially unveiled almost two years ago, sitting just below 460-foot-high Butcher Hill, the locally prominent landmark and former quarry that affords spectacular views of Torrance Airport and surrounding single-family neighborhoods.

A Facebook page, South Bay Against High Density Housing, was set up to oppose the project shortly after it was unveiled.

Solana Beach-based developer ReyLenn Properties, meanwhile, stands behind its project, maintaining that Torrance — like much of California — is in the midst of a housing crisis and such projects are part of the solution.

The 631-page, highly-technical, state-mandated draft environmental impact report released last week appears to underline just how deep that opposition runs among many nearby inhabitants of neighborhoods defined by their single-family homes.

Traffic congestion

The draft environmental analysis concludes the project wouldn’t have much effect on traffic.

In total, Solana is expected to generate an estimated 1,349 average weekday trips, including 89 in the morning and 1097 in the evening rush-hour, according to the draft environmental analysis.

“Project-generated traffic would not result in a delay of service at any roadway or intersection,” it concludes. “This impact would be less than significant.”

But the 158 residents who took the time to comment were opposed to the multi-family residential project they contend will significantly worsen traffic in an already congested “bottleneck” exacerbated by its hilly topography and does not fit with surrounding neighborhoods of single family homes.

“Development of the area is to be expected, but this high density project is excessive in its scope for this particular parcel of land,” wrote Palos Verdes Estates resident Bea Walker, in a letter typical of many received.

“This high-density project is clearly designed to gain as much profit as possible without regard for the impact on infrastructure in the area, additional traffic issues and need for expansion of roads and access,” she added. “This is a big mistake. The project must be scaled down in its scope and impact since the current road cannot handle the numbers of additional cars that will be coming and going and the need for parking for over 500 cars!”

The state Department of Transportation echoed some of those comments, observing that it also has concerns about overloaded intersections in the area.

Housing crisis

ReyLenn Properties has set up a website of its own in an effort to dispel fears about the project and promote its benefits.

“Numerous housing studies and government reports show that Torrance, like many other cities in California, has a housing crisis,” its frequently asked questions reads in part. “Housing demand vastly exceeds supply resulting in exorbitant housing prices.

“Just look back at why Toyota moved its headquarters to Texas,” it adds. “Employees needed affordable housing.”

Project details

The project would see the nearly 250 apartments built in three five-story buildings along with a six-story parking structure with room for 484 vehicles.

Development of the almost 25-acre site would be confined to a parcel of fewer than six acres with two of those devoted to landscaping. The remainder of the site would remain in a natural state.

Construction is slated to take 2 1/2 years beginning in January and include 7,455 round-trip truck trips to remove almost 120,000 cubic yards of soil, according to the draft environmental analysis.

The project will bring an estimated 722 new residents, including 45 school-age children.

It will be the largest multi-family residential project built in Torrance in years.

For instance, just 45 multi-family housing units have been built in the city in the last five years, according to figures provided by the Community Development Department.

Learn more

Copies of the draft environmental analysis are available at Torrance City Hall, libraries in Walteria, the Torrance Civic Center branch and Rolling Hills Estates and online at the Torrance Community Development website.

Written comments are being accepted via email at OMartinez@TorranceCA.gov with the subject “Solana Residential Development Project,” through Aug. 5 or by mailing Oscar Martinez, Interim Planning Manager, Community Development Department, 3031 Torrance Blvd., Torrance CA 90503.

Responses to questions and concerns will be included in the final environmental analysis that will be completed before any action is taken on the project by the City Council.

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