by Scott Zwartz
September 10, 2015
. As of today, three community groups have sued The City of Los Angeles over Mayor Garcetti’s Mobility Plan 2035. These three groups have sued the City previously.
. Fix The City, Inc., and Hollywoodians Encouraging Logical Planning [HELP] sued the City over Garcetti’s 2012 Update to Hollywood Community Plan, and in January 2014, Judge Allan Goodman agreed with them. Judge Goodman threw out the Update as being based upon fatally flawed data, wishful thinking and subverting the public’s right to participate in decision making.
. Citizens Coalition Los Angeles [CCLA] had sued the City over Garcetti’s insistence that the Target Store in Hollywood at Sunset and Western be constructed contrary the the Specific Plan for Hollywood. Judge Fruin ordered construction to stop on the Target Store. If Garcetti had allowed Target to put its parking underground and have its store be only 35 feet tall in conformity with the Specific Plan allowed as Target had wanted to do, then the Target Store would have been doing business years ago.
. Although Garcetti tends to be taciturn when projects crash, the scuttlebutt is that he wanted the Target Store to be 75 feet tall in order to “break the zoning.” If one developer is allowed to disregard the law, the next guy has a good argument that he too should be allowed to break the law and build whatever he wants. Allowing developers to construct vastly over-sized projects fits into Garcetti’s dream to turn L.A. into a west coat Manhattan.
. Time will tell whether Garcetti’s Mobility Plan 2035 will suffer the same fate as his Hollywood Plan Update, the Target Store, The Millennium Towers, Sunset & Gordon. While courts are notoriously unpredictable, Mobility Plan 2035 has all the ingredients for another multi-million dollars disaster. Using the same outside consultants who brought us the Hollywood Community Plan fiasco, Mobility Plan 2035 is similarly based on fatally flawed data and wishful thinking.
. Richard Lee Abrams, a local activist who works closely with HELP and CCLA, has been encouraging as many community groups as possible to file their own lawsuits against the City. Writing in CityWatch, Mr. Abrams advises that important decisions are no longer made at City Hall, but rather in the courts. Slap Down at City Hall If anyone wants to have a say in some of the most important issues for Los Angeles’s future, they have to be part of the litigation.
. Fix The City, HELP, CCLA, and La Mirada Neighborhood Ass’n have been showing that it is possible to fight City Hall. In fact, just yesterday La Mirada won another case against Garcetti’s beloved CIM Group over their violations of prior court orders in constructing their high rise a Sunset and Gordon. La Mirada v 5929 Sunset 9-9-2015 Basically a developer may not ignore court orders and proceed illegally and expect the courts to do nothing. All the permits including the occupancy permits for the 23 story high rise are voided.
. Anyone who takes the time to wade through the history of the Sunset & Gordon project and follow the legal paths will see that this case has nothing to do with NIMBYISM. It has to do with a near pathological inability to follow the law. If Garcetti had told his developer friends not to violate the court order, none of the permits would have been voided. People need to take the time and study what Judge Chalfant wrote. Yes, it will require a lot of time and effort, but after undergoing this arduous exercise, one will see that law breaking is the cause if this fiasco.
. In 2006, when Gail Goldberg first assumed the position of Director of Planning for the City of Los Angeles, she warned that Garcett’s practice of allowing developers to set the zoning rules was leading to disaster. La Mirada’s win in the appellate court is one of example of Director Goldberg’s prediction coming true.
. Some people wonder why there is so much litigation over development, especially in Hollywood. When one reads the various opinions of Judge Goodman, Judge Chalfant, Judge Jones over the Hollywood-Gower Project, and Judge Fruin about The Target Store, one sees the reason for these legal losses — under Garcetti the City insists on breaking the law.
. The reality is that Plaintiff lawyers are like cops who work for free until they apprehend the bad guys. Regular police officers do not work without pay for two or three years in hopes of catching a murderer. No police officer could support a family if he were paid only after he arrested the crook. Yet, that is fundamentally what these plaintiff attorneys do. Generally, they do not paid unless they win the case. The need to win a case in order to be paid is a strong incentive not to file a frivolous lawsuit. The idea that attorneys make money by filing lawsuits which are devoid of merit is an urban myth.
. Not only would the attorney never be paid, if the lawsuit were truly frivolous, then the court could order the plaintiff attorney to pay the developer’s legal fees.
. Hopefully, Fix The City, Inc., HELP, and CCLA will not be the only community groups to sue the City over Mobility Plan 2035. The deadline seems to be Monday, September 14, 2015, provided you made official comments during the various hearings at City Hall. As Abrams noted in CityWatch, the decisions are being made in the Courts and anyone who does not deal himself into that game will be left outside with no say about Los Angeles’ future.
. If any more petitioners file lawsuits over Garcetti’s Mobility Plan 2035, we will update this article