Opponents of a proposed twin skyscraper project in Hollywood called Wednesday for an independent panel, rather than a developer-hired consultant, to study earthquake risks at the site.
Attorney Robert Silverstein, said a "neutral" group was needed to study seismic risks near the Millennium, a 35-story and 39-story project planned near the Capitol Records building. The developer is currently in the process of doing more testing at the site, which may or may not run across an active fault line.
"We need an unbiased analysis," said Silverstein, who represents dozens of Hollywood-area neighborhood groups fighting the project. "Not one shaped by city politics or a developer's multimillion-dollar lobbying machine."
The City Council approved the controversial project last month despite uncertainties about whether the project site is centered on the Hollywood-Santa Monica fault. Regulation forbids construction of new buildings directly along fault lines.
Initially, city officials cleared the Millennium's geology report until concerns from a prominent University of Southern California earthquake expert prompted the city to request more studies.
Millennium Partners believes there is no fault line under its planned project. But based on the city's new concerns, the developer agreed two weeks ago to do more seismic testing.
Now, opponents argue that isn't enough. Distrustful of both the city and Millennium Partners, Silverstein on Wednesday cited the "bogus" findings of the developer, and said a neutral expert panel should oversee the additional studies.
City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who represents the area, doesn't want an independent study, said his spokesman Tony Arranaga. "He is confident in the city process," Arranaga said.
The city doesn't have any standards for the developer to follow when picking a geologist, but the consulting company must be licensed, said Building and Safety spokesman Luke Zamperini. The city geologist will visit the trenching site himself and review the developer's report, Zamperini said.
Responding to Silverstein's criticisms, Philip Aarons, managing partner at Millennium, issued the following statement: "We have agreed to do further subsoil investigations in the form of trenching as required by the City, the results of which will be available and approved by the City before any building permit is issued."
"We are 100 percent committed to building a safe project," Aarons said.
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