Thursday, November 29, 2012
S.C. Denies Review of Ruling on Maywood School Project
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court yesterday left standing a ruling by this district’s Court of Appeal that rejected most of the City of Maywood’s environmental challenges to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s plan to build a high school in the city.
The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco, unanimously denied the city’s petition for review of Div. Seven’s July 18 decision in City of Maywood v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 362.
The district’s original plan called for building the school on two blocks north and south of 58th
Street between King and Slauson avenues. LAUSD eventually agreed to a pedestrian overcrossing of the existing street to connect the north and south parts, but rejected a number of other objections raised by the city.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones granted the city’s petition for a writ of mandate, finding the EIR inadequate with respect to the impact of a proposed new on/off ramp on the nearby 710 Freeway; the treatment of hazardous materials; potential pedestrian safety impacts due to 58th Street being left as an active roadway, although traversable by the pedestrian bridge; and discussion of possible alternatives to the project.
The judge also found the private attorney general statute applicable to the circumstances, and awarded the city’s lawyer, Beth Dorris, $650,000 in fees.
But Justice Laurie Zelon, writing for the appellate court, said the EIR was adequate in all respects other than that of pedestrian safety. She noted that the district conceded it had a duty to consider those impacts, and said the safety study that the district conducted failed to “discuss whether the presence of an active roadway in the middle of campus would impact pedestrian safety” and did not “discuss whether the pedestrian bridge would alleviate any such hazards.”
The panel remanded for the issuance of a writ limited to that issue and for reconsideration of the amount of the fee award “based on the more limited results obtained in the new judgment. “
With respect to that award, the justice said the city’s motives, such as preservation of its tax base and the residents’ interest in disclosure of environmental impacts, did not preclude it from obtaining a fee award under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 1021.5.
Zelon also said that the statutory language and the legislative history failed to show any intent to treat one public entity that litigates against another any differently than private litigants are treated.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company