June 9, 2009
City Council approves Museum of Tolerance expansion
After almost two years of proposals, hearing and protests, the Museum of Tolerance’s planned expansion received unanimous approval today from the City Council.
“The Jewish community uses ‘never again.’ Well, if never again is going to be never, we have to allow this museum to flourish,” said Councilman Richard Alarcon.
Throughout the process, many homeowners in the surrounding North Beverlywood area had complained about the environmental impact of the museum’s plan to add about 28,000 square feet, including a banquet hall that will be used for bar mitzvahs and weddings, and a new two-story building. Traffic and noise remain, even after the vote, the two biggest concerns.
“There is a rumor going around that the Museum of Tolerance has reached an agreement with it’s neighbors,” Susan Gans, co-chair of HOME (Homeowners Opposed to Museum Expansion), said during public comment. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
After the vote, Gans said she was not surprised by the outcome—“They are not looking at it as a land-use or zoning decision. It is entirely a political decision,” she said—and that her organization is considering filing suit now to stop the project.
The museum expansion is one of the final major projects Councilman Jack Weiss has lent his support to before leaving office next month. Despite the protests, Weiss said that the vast majority of the museum’s neighbor support the project and that the proposal had been scaled back to mitigate significant concerns—increased landscaping and setbacks, scaled back height limits and event frequency.
“I’m proud the Museum of Tolerance is in my district, but we should all be proud this institution is in our city,” Weiss said. “It is a world leader when it comes to the fight for rights of dissidents in North Korea or women in Afghanistan or Iraq, when it comes to the fight against hate on the Internet or the training of law enforcement officers in California.”
“This is a project of citywide significance,” Weiss added. “I ask for your support today.”
The city will review the museum’s expansion in six months.