A Venice residents organization has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to reverse the Los Angeles City Council's approval of the environmental impact report for the massive Playa Vista development project.
The report was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in November as the city moved toward annexing 803 acres of land between Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey.
The lawsuit, filed last week by the Venice Town Council, claims that the city failed to adequately consider the impact of sewage, automobile traffic and other problems that will be created by Playa Vista.
Town Council President Patrick McCartney said the city should have been forced to reduce the size of the development, replace office space with more housing and make other changes before approving the environmental report.
The Summa Corp.'s $1-billion planned community is expected to provide apartments and condominiums for 20,000 people and include nearly 3 million square feet of office space when it is completed.
McCartney said Town Council members were ignored during several public hearings on the proposed annexation. "The city had a commendable number of public hearings," McCartney said, "but the developer's interest appeared to be protected and the community's interests ignored. The report seemed more designed to justify the project than to assess and mitigate the environmental impacts."
Officials for the Los Angeles Planning Department and Summa Corp. familiar with Playa Vista were out of town this week and could not be reached for comment.
But an aide for City Councilwoman Pat Russell defended the city's environmental report. Russell represents the area around Playa Vista.
"This is one of the most exhaustive EIR's ever done by the city," said Russell aide David Grannis. He said two revised versions of the report included comments and changes suggested by the public at a series of hearings.
The lawsuit is the second filed by community groups opposed to Playa Vista. The Friends of Ballona Wetlands, an environmental group, filed suit more than a year ago claiming that the Summa project has not agreed to preserve enough of the sensitive coastal wetlands.
The company agreed to restore and maintain 175 acres of the marshes, which are home to endangered plants and animals. The Friends of Ballona had asked for a 325-acre wetlands, based on findings by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The suit is still pending.
The Venice Town Council lawsuit also objects to the destruction of wetlands. But the largest portion of the 38-page suit deals with problems that it claims will be caused by sewage from Playa Vista.
The city's report underestimates by nearly half the amount of sewage that will be produced, the lawsuit says. It said the report also fails to explain how already overburdened sewer lines and the Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant will deal with an increased flow of waste.
Venice Town Council members have suggested that Summa limit the size of the project to reduce the amount of sewage. The lawsuit suggests that Summa could build its own treatment plant or pay its share of the cost for expansion of Hyperion, the overburdened city treatment plant in Playa del Rey.
The lawsuit also charges that the city's environmental report failed to adequately assess:
- The shadows cast and views obstructed by skyscrapers that could rise as high as 600 feet.
- The effect of increased traffic on public access to the beach.
- Impact of traffic on the neighboring cities of Santa Monica and Culver City. Town Council members said the traffic plans only deal with congestion as far as the borders of Los Angeles.
- Effects of Playa Vista when combined with other major projects in the Westside and around Los Angeles International Airport.
Grannis, Russell's aide, said the sewage plan presented by Summa will handle the waste generated by the development and also improve service for surrounding areas.
He said traffic improvements are ordered by a transportation specific plan approved by the City Council earlier this year for Playa Vista and nearby communities. The plan prohibits construction from going ahead unless developers show that they can difuse the traffic produced by their projects, Grannis said. "If you don't meet the traffic standards you don't get a building permit, or you have to scale your project back before you do," he said.