AES plant owner Leo Pustilnikov undeterred by city housing plan

Leo Pustilnikov's preliminary proposal for "One Redondo", filed in August. Illustration courtesy Leo Pustilnikov/Smithco Surveying, Engineering

by Garth Meyer

The newly-approved Redondo Beach Housing Element will not deter AES plant owner Leo Pustilnikov in his plan to build up to 2,320 housing units on the site’s 54 acres.

Pustilnikov submitted a preliminary proposal before Redondo Beach received state approval for its 2021-2029 housing element.

“It got approved. Congratulations,” he said Tuesday. “(My) proposal freezes at the time of application. When I applied, the housing element wasn’t approved. It’s well-established in (State Bill) 330; it’s as of the time of application.”

The Housing Element does not reference any units on the power plant site, which some civic leaders would like to remain largely open space.

The city council was briefed Tuesday on the legalities of Pustilnikov’s plan by city attorney Mike Webb.

“It’s in Leo’s interest to continue to assert that he has a right to do this,” said District Four Councilman Zein Obagi, Jr, who is an attorney. “The truth is, we just took the legs out from his proposal.”

“An argument can be made that we, as a city, approved the housing element on July 5, so at that point we had a certified housing element. The state just had yet to review it,” District Five Council Member Laura Emdee said.

The state allows 180 days after a development’s preliminary filing to increase or decrease by 20 percent the number of units and/or square footage.

Pustilnikov has until February to file his final development plan.

“Time will tell,” Pustilnikov said of what the last application shows. “It could drop to 1,832 units or go up to 2,748 units.”

What kind of reaction has he gotten from his initial proposal?

“I’m surprised by the amount of  positive feedback I’ve heard,” he said. “The majority of Redondo Beach has not spoken on this matter, only the vocal few [opponents].”

Pustilnikov’s vision includes 22 acres of green space, part of which is designated by the Coastal Commission as wetlands.

He points out that the federal standard for a wetland is a higher bar than the Commission’s.

“Pardon my French, but if I take a p—s and it doesn’t dry for a period of time, that’s considered a wetland,” he said. ER


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