Allies and representatives of Playa Vista have cheered another court ruling in their favor that will allow the commercial center of the planned community to move forward.
In a continuing legal battle over the second stage of Playa Vista, an appeals court came down on the side of the developer in a 36-page opinion Nov. 9.
The Ballona Wetlands Trust, Anthony Morales and the Surfrider Foundation, as well as the Ballona Ecosystems Education Project challenged a revised environmental impact report that was certified by the Los Angeles City Council last March for the Village, a commercial and retail center for Playa Vista.
The council had also approved the second phase of the planned community’s 111-acre mixed-use component by a 12-2 vote. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Playa Vista, was one of the opposing votes.
The plaintiffs disputed the analysis of archaeological resources and sea level rise resulting from global climate change, the project description and the finding of “no significant impact” on land use constituency.
The appellate court rejected each of the plaintiffs’ claims.
“We conclude that the revised EIR adequately discusses preservation in place and the impacts of sea level rise resulting from global climate change,” the court wrote. “We also conclude that newly asserted challenges to the project description and finding of ‘no significant impact’ on land use constituency are beyond the scope of the trial court’s jurisdiction in these consolidated proceedings after the entry of judgment and issuance of peremptory writ of mandate.”
Rex Frankel of the Ballona Ecosystems Education Projects said his organization is considering taking the case to the state Supreme Court.
“We think that we have a good issue,” said Frankel, who has sued Playa Vista in the past.
Playa Capital Co-President Patti Sinclair applauded the court’s decision, calling the ruling a win for the planned community’s residents.
“(The Nov. 9) ruling by the appellate court confirms that the city of Los Angeles and Playa Vista did what the court directed us to do. We are gratified that the court upheld the city’s approval of the Village project and affirmed the trial court’s ruling in its entirety,” Sinclair said in a statement.
“This is a terrific day for the current residents of Playa Vista who have been waiting a long time for the Village plan to be realized. The ruling is also excellent news for the 5,000 future residents who will have the opportunity to call the Village home.”
The Village will include retail stores and restaurants, as well as new public parks and multi-family residential properties. In addition, it will include 2,600 residential units, 200 assisted living units, 50,000 square feet of office space, a 195,000-square foot retail center, as well as a fitness center and pool.
Playa Vista has been challenged in court several times since the residential portion of the development opened in 2003. The most recent lawsuit against Phase I of the development was filed by an environmental organization, Environmentalism Through Inspiration and Nonviolent Action, and John Davis, a Westchester resident.
An appellate court rebuffed the plaintiffs when they sought to challenge an earlier ruling that stated no supplemental environmental impact report for the project was required, as well as the judgment for a writ by a lower court in 2006 to the Second District Court of Appeal.
The court also awarded court costs to Los Angeles and Playa Vista as prevailing parties against a May 2010 petition for a writ of mandate filed by Frankel’s organization.
“The judgment and order are affirmed,” the court concluded. “The city and Playa Capital are entitled to recover their costs on appeal.
Sinclair said the company is now focused on moving ahead with its shopping center and the mixed-use portion of the development for the 6,500 members of the planned community.
“We at Playa Capital look forward to completing the Village, which will bring new homes, shops and parks to the second and final phase of Playa Vista,” she said.
Sabrina Venskus, a Venice attorney, and Emilee Moeller represented the Ballona Wetlands Trust, Morales and Surfrider, and Frankel’s organization was represented by Brian Acree.
Edward Casey, Robert Pontelle and Neal Maguire were the attorneys for Playa Capital.