10:49 AM PST, February 5, 2013
This post has been corrected, please see note below.
The San Marino City Council on Monday approved a $60-million upgrade and expansion of the Huntington Library and its gardens -- with some conditions.
The move came after Councilman Dennis Kneier recused himself from considering the project due to the proximity of his residence to the site.
But even in announcing his decision, Kneier — who lives in the 1400 block of Hampton Road — was unapologetic in his support of the project, telling opponents who had crowded council chambers that he believed it would have “ no effect in the value of my property.”
That assertion drew laughs from his neighbors, many of whom oppose the project because they contend the Huntington failed to address long-held quality of life concerns when drafting the proposal.
They took issue with street parking by visitors, trash in their yards, noise until 10 p.m. or midnight during special events and the hassle of filming crew trucks parking and causing traffic issues.
Fred Gaines, an attorney representing the concerned homeowners, called on the City Council to take a more critical view of the Huntington’s proposal and environmental impact findings.
“I'm asking you not to disregard what you know about what happens in this neighborhood on those very busy days,” he said. “You know what happens, you don't need the experts to tell you, you don't need the Huntington to gloss it over, and what these community members are going to ask you is, ‘Help us on those days.’”
As part of the approval, the Council OK'd the library's appeal and eliminated a limit on the number of commercial buses that the Planning Commission had approved.
Instead, the City Council required that the library work with city staff regularly in the future to determine whether the number of buses arriving at the library presents a problem for neighbors.
The project -- which is being funded by private donors -- will include a remodel of the entry area with a new garden court, café and shop. Underground storage capacity for historical materials would also be doubled.
[For the Record: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the City Council had referred several issues back to the Planning Commission.]
-- Mercedes Aguilar, Times Community News
Follow Mercedes Aguilar on Twitter: @Merci85
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