Mission Bell Project | Carpenters Union Appeals City’s Approval

Opponents of the decisive project have contended that it does not align with the City's General Plan

RENDERING: Provided by Workshop Design Collective | SouthPasadenan.com News | Proposed redesign of Lutrell's Building in South Pasadena. 2/3 of the building, whose historical status is still disputed, would be demolished under the Mission Bell Project which was approved by the City in February

The Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters is appealing the South Pasadena Planning Commission’s Feb. 11 certification of the final environmental impact report (FEIR) for the 38-unit mixed-use Mission Bell slated for a premium spot downtown.

The union says CFT Developments, which is controlled by Panda Expresss founders and South Pasadena billionaires Andrew and Peggy Cherng, failed to adequately describe the project and that the FEIR improperly concluded construction won’t have any significant impacts on historical resources. It says the project is inconsistent with the city’s General Plan as it pertains to both the city General Plan’s housing element and goal for preserving historic resources.

The group also asserts the city did not notify them of the hearing or of the availability of the FEIR.

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The Cherng’s did not specify whether Mission Bell’s residential units would be apartments or condos, or what their prices would be, the appeal complains. 

The plan calls for the demolition of two-thirds of the warehouse portion of the 1921 commercial vernacular structure at 1115 Mission (“Luttrell’s Building”), the historical status of which is still controversial. The appeal says the city provided a “confusing and mixed” response to the union’s draft comments by arguing the proposed “rehabilitation” of Luttrell’s Building would be consistent with federal standards and outlined four ways in which it is in fact inconsistent.

Demolishing the Luttrell’s Buidling warehouse would change “important historical characteristics” of it and run afoul of the General Plan’s goal of preserving [the] historic character of the city,” the appeal adds. The city’s consultant argued the demolition could be accomplished without compromising the building’s defining character but, the appeal noted, the same consultant recommended the entire building be retained.

As for the housing element, the appeal said the DEIR “completely ignores whether there indeed is a housing need for the above-moderate income group that has not already been satisfied by recent mixed-use projects in the area.”

The city is currently struggling to accommodate the high level and range of affordable housing it has been required to plan for by the state. It is working now to rewrite and update both its state-mandated housing element and its General Plan.

The City Council is slated to hear the appeal during its regular meeting May 20.

A spokesman for the project’s architect, South Pasadena’s Workshop Design Collective, declined to comment but said the developer’s response would be posted on the city’s website Friday.


Ben Tansey
Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.