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Judge Upholds Council's Approval of Porter Ranch : Development: A homeowner group accused the city of not adequately reviewing the environmental impact of the giant project near Chatsworth.

December 22, 1990|JOHN SCHWADA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Superior Court judge Friday rejected a homeowner group's attempt to block the massive Porter Ranch development on the slopes above Chatsworth.

Judge Dzintra Janavs ruled against a lawsuit by PRIDE (Porter Ranch is Developed Enough) that challenged the Los Angeles City Council's approval of the project.

PRIDE, a homeowner group that has been in the forefront of protests against the project, accused the council of failing to adequately review and describe the environmental impact of the 1,300-acre, $2-billion project, which is to include 3,395 residential units and 6 million square feet of commercial development.

PRIDE contended that the project is inconsistent with the city's General Plan, which it said never envisioned a commercial core--with office towers and a regional shopping center--in the Porter Ranch area, but rather in Chatsworth.

Janavs, however, ruled that the plan "is not so site-specific that the center cannot be moved a few miles."

Moreover, Janavs ruled that the council did not abuse its discretion by approving 485 acres of open space for the Porter Ranch project, even though the General Plan set 525 to 560 acres of open space as a goal for this area.

Janavs also determined that the Porter Ranch environmental impact report adequately reviewed the project's regional impact on air quality and traffic.

The report concluded that the project would generate 150,000 additional trips per day but that the effect of those trips could be mitigated with the construction--by the developer--of about $50 million in street improvements, including the installation of a computerized system for synchronizing traffic signals at dozens of intersections.

Porter Ranch, sometimes likened to a second Century City, will be one of the largest development projects in the city's history, providing housing for 11,000 people and jobs for 20,000 when it is completed, which is expected to be in 2010.

PRIDE sought a 75% reduction in the project, as approved by the council, and elimination of 1.5 million square feet approved for a shopping center.

Porter Ranch Development Co. spokesman Paul Clarke said the ruling destroyed "the big lie" by opponents that the project violated environmental laws.

"Now even a court of law has said their big lie won't work," Clarke said.

"This validates what we've been saying," he said.

A spokesman for PRIDE said it was unclear if the group would appeal Janavs' ruling.

"We probably won't decide on that until after the holiday," said Roger Strull, a PRIDE board member.

"We still feel strongly the project violates state laws."

An appeal will largely depend on whether PRIDE can raise funds for attorney fees.

The group, Strull admitted Friday, had previously asked for help with the lawsuit's expenses from shopping mall operators who would be in competition with the proposed Porter Ranch mall.

"But they all turned us down," Strull said.

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