Monday, December 5, 2011
C.A. Rejects Global Warming Challenge to Playa Vista Project
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The revised environmental impact report for mixed-use Phase II of the huge Playa Vista development south of Marina del Rey adequately discussed the impact of the project’s contributions to global climate change, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled.
In an opinion filed Nov. 9 and certified Friday for publication, Div. Three affirmed a judgment and order by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Torribio approving the revised EIR for the project, which is also known as The Village.
The city approved a final EIR for Phase II in April 2004, which was challenged by the City of Santa Monica, along with the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, Anthony Morales, and Surfrider Foundation. Morales is chief of the Gabrielino/Tongva Tribal Council of San Gabriel, and has accused the developer of insensitivity in building on Native American burial grounds.
First EIR Rejected
The challenge was initially rejected in Superior Court, but the Court of Appeal reversed. While rejecting a number of arguments by the petitioners, it concluded that the EIR’s land use analysis was misleading in certain respects, that the document should have discussed preservation as a means of mitigating archeological impacts, and that it failed to adequately analyze wastewater impacts.
On remand, Torribio ordered that the petitions be granted in part and denied in part, and granted a writ of mandate requiring the city to revise the EIR. In addition to addressing the issues identified by the Court of Appeal, the city last year revised the report’s executive summary and prepared a new section discussing the impacts of global climate change, pursuant to AB 32, which had been enacted subsequent to the certification of the original EIR.
Torribio upheld the revised EIR in January, rejecting arguments by the original plaintiffs and by Ballona Ecosystems Education project, also known as BEEP. The appeals were consolidated, leading to last month’s ruling.
“We conclude that the revised EIR adequately discusses preservation in place and the impacts of sea level rise resulting from global climate change,” Justice Walter Croskey wrote. “We also conclude that BEEP’s newly asserted challenges to the project description and the finding on land use consistency are beyond the scope of the trial court’s jurisdiction in these consolidated proceedings after the entry of judgment and issuance of a peremptory writ of mandate.”
BEEP President Rex Frankel was quoted on two websites reporting on the case as saying his group will seek Supreme Court review.
Attorneys on appeal were Sabrina Venskus and Emilee Moeller of Venskus & Associates for Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, Morales and Surfrider Foundation; Brian Acree for BEEP; Deputy City Attorney Siegmund Shyu for Los Angeles; and Edward J. Casey, Robert D. Pontelle and Neal P. Maguire of Alston & Bird for the developer.
The case is Ballona Wetlands Land Trust v. City of Los Angeles (Playa Capital Company, LLC), B231965.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company