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Braude Files Unusual Suit to Block Downtown Project


Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude filed suit Wednesday to block construction of the huge Watt City Center, a two-tower office and retail complex that is to be built between 7th and 8th streets downtown.

Braude, alone among council members, has crusaded against the $600-million project, asserting that it will bring total gridlock to the nearby Harbor Freeway.

The council approved the development in a 14-1 vote last month, with Braude voting against it. The project was shepherded through the council by Arthur K. Snyder, an influential lobbyist and former councilman, who represented Watt & Marselis, the developers.

Braude refused to discuss the lawsuit Wednesday, saying he preferred to answer questions at a press conference today.

Braude filed the unusual suit in Superior Court Wednesday, not as a member of the City Council, but as an individual, a taxpayer, a resident of the city and a user of the Harbor Freeway, according to his attorney, George Dale.

Dale asked that the court bring the project to an immediate halt by issuing a stay of action on its requests for building permits.

However, Superior Court Judge David Jaffe denied the request.

But Jaffe also refused to throw out the lawsuit at the request of attorneys for the developers, who argued that Braude had no legal standing to sue.

Braude is challenging the project on several legal grounds, including the contention that the council vote to approve it was based on insufficient evidence about the impact of the traffic that the development will generate.

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