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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Preserve LA Wins Again to Prevent Another Mega-Development

In the second rebuke in less than a week over illegal mega-developments signed off by the L.A. City Council and Mayor Garcetti, a Superior Court Judge ruled that L.A. political leaders illegally failed to require environmental review when they allowed Target Corp. to build far taller than allowed by zoning laws.

The Target store, which has sat unfinished at Sunset and Western, could have been open and operating if elected leaders had followed the rules and listened to the community, said attorney Robert P. Silverstein.

The April 26 ruling by Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin, Jr. — his second formal finding that L.A. leaders took illegal actions regarding the Target store — comes right on the heels of a similar victory against City Hall by the LA Conservancy.

On April 25, Superior Court Judge Amy Hogue indefinitely halted a controversial 178-foot multi-tower at the foot of Laurel Canyon, dubbed “8150 Sunset.” 8150 Sunset would severely jam traffic and destroy the character of the low-rise, heavily historic community situated on the West Hollywood/Hollywood border.

That victory, by attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley representing LA Conservancy, was based, as with the Target case, on City Hall’s failure to assess the environmental damage. In the 8150 Sunset controversy the city supported demolishing the historic 1960s Lytton Savings bank on the site.

In both the Target and the 8150 Sunset cases, L.A. elected leaders and city planners waged war against concerned Hollywood residents. That battle is unfolding from the Valley to the Eastside to South LA to the Westside, as the City Council and Mayor repeatedly override local zoning in an attempt to usher in massive and often controversial building projects.

In the Target ruling, Judge Fruin found that the Council’s approval of a hotly contested “zone change” to erect the massive Target would negatively impact traffic, noise, air pollution and the GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions the city is struggling to contain.

In the 8150 Sunset battle, city leaders insisted that the community’s desire to preserve the iconic bank wasn’t feasible given City Hall’s preference for a towering luxury structure.
In both cases, the judges found the city blatantly violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Silverstein, who represents the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Assn. of Hollywood in the Target case, said City leaders tried to change the zoning long after the fact, to justify their illegal approval of the Target store.

“By trying to retrofit the zoning to save Target’s illegal project, the City Council committed a new string of illegal acts,” Silverstein said.

Judge Fruin agreed.

Ironically, Target Corp. had envisioned a new Target store that would fit in comfortably with community zoning rules. But according to court documents, then-Councilman Eric Garcetti privately persuaded Target to erect a much bigger building that ignored the local zoning.

“No wonder citizens have so little faith in L.A. City Hall,” said Silverstein.

Environmental advocates, livable community proponents and activists seeking intelligent planning point to these humiliating courtroom losses as evidence that City Hall is not listening to its communities, nor is it abiding by the law.

Silverstein said that his client never opposed a legal Target store. “For years we have asked the City Council and Target to follow the law. It’s that basic. But they keep saying, ‘catch us if you can.’ That is not how elected officials should conduct the public’s business,“ Silverstein said.

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