The state Supreme Court has agreed to review a lawsuit brought against the Pacific Amphitheatre by a Costa Mesa citizens group over noise at the 18,800-seat outdoor concert site.
The review will be a positive step toward eliminating noise problems, although it will be about nine months "and another concert season" before a court hearing, said Richard Spix, attorney for Concerned Citizens of Costa Mesa.
The homeowner group sued in January, 1984, saying that amphitheater operators Ned West Inc. and the Orange County Fairgrounds, which houses the facility on state-owned property, had led homeowners to believe that the amphitheatre would be a 5,000-seat cultural arts center, with any noise directed away from residential areas, Spix said.
The group also claimed that the Orange County Fair Board failed to update its environmental review when the concert facility was redesigned with a capacity 70% larger than the original project. California law requires a revised environmental impact report if a project changes significantly.
The state high court, which agreed last week to hear the case, will review a 1985 appelate court decision that ruled that it was too late for residents to file suit because homeowners had only 180 days after construction began to challenge the environmental impact report.
The focus of the residents' case before the state Supreme Court will be that Ned West did not notify the 25,000 adjoining landowners of changes in the $11-million amphitheater that included increased seating capacity, concerts by rock groups and direction toward residential areas, Spix said.
Neil Papiano, attorney for Ned West, said that the environmental impact report was prepared by the state and that it was the state's problem. It "strains credibility" that residents didn't know it was going to be an amphitheater because of all the publicity, he said.