Playa Vista is a neighborhood located in the Westside of the City of Los Angeles, California, United States, north of LAX. Prior to the development of Playa Vista, the area was the headquarters of Hughes Aircraft Company from 1941 to 1985, and was the site of the construction of the Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" aircraft. The area began development in 2002 as a planned community with residential, commercial, and retail components. The community has become a choice address for businesses in technology, media and entertainment and, along with Santa Monica and Venice, has become known as Silicon Beach.
The Tongva Native Americans once inhabited the location now occupied by Playa Vista. There was a Tongvan sacred burial site located here: "about 1,000 Native American remains [...] had been exhumed during construction," grave sites that were deemed sacred by the Tongva people. The remains were discovered after construction had begun. In 2008, the remains "were laid to rest and covered with white seashells during a sacred burial ceremony near the Westchester bluffs." In addition, "Playa Vista plans to complete a museum dubbed the Discovery Center to educate people about the Ballona wetlands and the Gabrieliño-Tongva tribe. It is expected to be completed at the end of ."
Prior to its development as headquarters for Hughes Aircraft Company, much of the land occupied by Playa Vista was a wetlands connected with a large salt-marsh in what is now Marina Del Rey. These wetlands were formerly part of the larger Ballona Creek watershed that occupied these areas along with what is now Playa Del Rey, and much of Venice, Los Angeles.
In the 1940s, the aviator Howard Hughes bought the site and constructed a private airfield runway, named Hughes Airport, and an aircraft factory with large hangars for his Hughes Aircraft Company production. The famous Spruce Goose (Hughes H-4 Hercules plane), with the largest wingspan and height of any aircraft in history, was built in the hangar and then transported to Long Beach Harbor for its only flight in 1947.
Phase One of Playa Vista began in 2001 as "a mix of affordable and luxury housing, office and commercial space and open spaces and recreational amenities, all set next to a restored wetlands and wildlife preserve." In October, Steve Soboroff was named president of Playa Vista.
It was one of "six communities in the nation selected by President Bill Clinton in 1998 as a National Pilot Project of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH)." As such it is, "one of the most technologically advanced communities ever planned" and is "fully connected via telecommunications and broadband capabilities."
It was also constructed as, "a model for green development [using] energy saving systems, non-toxic and recycled materials, product selections and design techniques that promote conservation [thus] minimizing the impacts of development on the environment." However, some environmentalists and residents in the nearby communities of Mar Vista, Westchester, and Venice oppose the development arguing that it will increase traffic congestion throughout the Los Angeles Westside. Beginning in 1994, developers and some environmentalists worked together to restore the Ballona Wetlands. Other environmentalists, however, oppose development in the wetlands.
A controversy surrounding methane at Playa Vista developed around 2000. On April 17, 2000, Exploration Technologies Inc. (ETI), "found methane seeps much larger than any previously reported, one about 1,000 feet long, and a second slightly smaller, in the area east of Lincoln Boulevard and south of Jefferson Boulevard." The City Council then asked Playa Vista to conduct more studies with ETI as a peer reviewer. This study found that ETI's original hypothesis was incorrect, and stated that a fault zone did not exist under Lincoln. The study further showed that gas seepage from the SoCal gas storage facility was not occurring. The report concluded that "no significant fault is possible under the entire Playa Vista development project site." In 2002, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) required the installation of gas mitigation systems at Playa Vista, consisting of a membrane shield under the buildings, vents, and a series of alarms.
According to officials at the L.A. Department of Building and Safety, "Methane is an old story in Los Angeles and the standards the city requires at Playa Vista are the strictest in the country. Hence, Playa residents we spoke to cited areas where the gas has not been mitigated - such as Venice, Santa Monica, and nearly all of the Westside - as more dangerous." Many also argue that "much of the methane is natural - not the kind that comes from the gas company."
The Los Angeles City Council has consistently voted in favor of the developers of the project. The development has a government-mandated blend of high- and low-income housing (less than 10%). According to the Los Angeles Times, "[o]ver the last decade, government agencies and courts have ruled repeatedly in Playa Vista's favor [...] Engineers, builders and consultants for the project have joined the city of Los Angeles in saying the safety measures are the most elaborate the city has ever required."
Playa Vista's parks and landscaped areas are serviced with 100% recycled water.
The boundaries of the currently developed portion are approximately Lincoln Boulevard and the Ballona Wetlands on the west, Ballona Creek on the north, Centinela Avenue on the east, and the Del Rey Hills bluffs (Westchester Bluffs) on the south. Playa Vista is bordered by the unincorporated enclave of Marina Del Rey to the northwest, by the community of Playa del Rey to the southwest, by Loyola Marymount University and the upland part of Westchester to the southwest, south, east and southeast, and by the Del Rey district to the northwest.
According to the Mapping L.A. project of the Los Angeles Times, Playa Vista is adjoined on the northwest by Del Rey, on the north and east by Culver City, on the southeast by Westchester and on the west by Marina Del Rey.
Street and other boundaries are: Ballona Creek or the Marina Freeway on the northwest and north, the Culver City boundary on the northeast, Bluff Creek Drive or the boundary between Rancho Ballona and Rancho Sausal Redondo on the southeast, followed by Teale Street and Cabora Drive, westerly and unmarked, to include the Ballona Wetlands on the southwest.
The 2000 U.S. census counted 2,416 residents in the 1.3-square-mile Playa Vista neighborhood—an average of 1,859 people per square mile, a very low population density in Los Angeles, but by 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 6,010. The median age for residents was 37, considered old for Los Angeles; the percentage of residents aged 65 and older was among the county's highest
The neighborhood was highly diverse ethnically. The breakdown was Latinos, 34.8%; whites, 32.4%; Asians, 21.2%; blacks, 4.7%, and others, 6.9%. Mexico (36.2%) and Guatemala (16.5%) were the most common places of birth for the 31.1% of the residents who were born abroad, about an average figure in Los Angeles.
The median yearly household income in 2008 dollars was $68,597, a high figure for Los Angeles. The average household size of 2.4 people was average for the city. House- or apartment owners occupied 54.8% of the housing stock, and renters occupied 28.5%.
The percentages of divorced men and widowed men and women were among the county's highest. In 2000 there were 33 families headed by single parents, a low rate for Los Angeles. There were 215 veterans, or 11%, a high rate for Los Angeles.
Commercial activity within Playa Vista:
Other related activity:
Los Angeles Unified School District operates public schools.
Playa Vista sits just below the bluff of Loyola Marymount University (LMU) which has labeled itself as the "University of Silicon Beach", the slogan being adopted by West LA and specifically Playa Vista. LMU has a large involvement within the neighborhood as well as interacting with the many companies moving into the campus portion of Playa Vista.
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