A panel of three judges from the California Second Appellate District this week unanimously reversed a lower court’s decision to approve Phase I of Playa Vista’s methane mitigation plans.

On Tuesday, October 25th, the judges sent the case back to a trial court with directions to grant the petition for writ of mandate and vacate the Los Angeles City Council approval of the mitigation measures until the city complies with state law.

The environmentalists who filed the lawsuit include the Grassroots Coalition, Environmentalism Through Inspiration and Non-Violent Action, Spirit of the Sage Council, and local residents John Davis and Daniel Cohen.

They went through fours years of litigation against the City of Los Angeles and Playa Capital Company LLC, Playa Vista development investors.

“This sends a strong message to big, East Coast investors like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs [investors in Playa Vista] that David can beat Goliath with enough community support backed up by solid scientific evidence,” said Patricia McPherson, president of the Grassroots Coalition.

She said that three investigative reports by television news channel KNBC revealed that methane gas is leaking through what Playa Vista calls “impermeable membranes” placed under buildings as a project-approved mitigation measure.

“In addition, the mandated venting wells — to be dug to 50 feet below the ground level into the old Los Angeles River bed — remain a mystery as to their existence,” McPherson said.

The first phase of Playa Vista — east of Lincoln Boulevard on both sides of Jefferson Boulevard — is currently under development.

Plans are for 3,246 housing units and some commercial space and the Electronic Arts office complex.