Wednesday, June 6, 2012
C.A. Rejects Challenge to Plan for Van de Kamps Bakery
Justices Say Community Group Waited Too Long to Bring CEQA Action
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A writ petition challenging the Los Angeles Community College District’s plans for the historic Van de Kamps Bakery Building in Northeast Los Angeles was untimely, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled.
The court yesterday certified for publication its May 8 opinion affirming the denial of a petition by the Van de Kamps Coalition, a group that first came together several years ago when a developer proposed to demolish the building and build a Home Base store.
The group initially supported the college district, which purchased the site for development of a satellite campus of Los Angeles City College, which was to consist of the bakery building plus a new building. But as the state budget picture darkened and the district concluded the campus plan was infeasible, the coalition and the district became adversaries.
In 2009, the college board voted to lease a portion of the building to the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, a nonprofit charter school operator whose board includes former Mayor Richard Riordan, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Cunningham III and Asian Pacific American Legal Center President Stewart Kwoh.
The college board also voted to spend $400,000 to redesign the building to meet the needs of the new tenants; it also voted to purchase a neighboring property based on a staff report that said the land was not for any particular project.
In January 2010, the Van de Kamps coalition filed the first of two writ petitions, challenging the approvals of these projects as having been inadequately reviewed under the California Environmental Quality Act. It also claimed that there was ”substantial evidence in the record” that the district was not being truthful in claiming it lacked “current plans” for the neighboring land it had just acquired.
After the board took additional actions in furtherance of the prior resolutions, the coalition filed a second writ petition in November 2010.
The coalition did not oppose the district’s demurrer to the first petition, which was sustained with leave to amend. In demurring to the second petition, the district argued that the actions being challenged were the same as those set forth in the first petition, and that the second petition was untimely as to those.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann Jones agreed, finding that the claims were indeed duplicative and that the second petition was time-barred because the claims were outside the statutory 180-day period.
Jones subsequently ruled on the first petition, granting partial relief by holding that the change in tenants created the reasonable possibility of increased traffic impacts requiring environmental review, but saying there was no need for further review of the purchase of the neighboring property.
In affirming the Jones’ ruling on the second petition, the Court of Appeal panel said the allegations were time-barred on their face, and that the denial of leave to amend was not an abuse of discretion because there was no showing that any amendment would survive.
“The limitations period starts running on the date the project is approved by the public agency and is not re-triggered on each subsequent date that the public agency takes some action toward implementing the project,” Justice Kathryn Doi Todd wrote.
In this case, she said, the 180 days began to run when the board voted to approve leasing the site to the charter school operator, not when the leases were subsequently executed.
The coalition was represented by Daniel E. Wright, the district by John C. Nolan, Jennifer M. Guenther and Stefanie G. Field of Gresham Savage Nolan & Tilden.
The case is Van de Kamps Coalition v. Board of Trustees of Los Angeles Community College District (City of Los Angeles), B234955.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company