Local activists continued their years-long battle against the Central City West development project last week by asking a state appeals court to rule that the city did not properly assess the project's traffic and other environmental impacts.
In arguments before the 2nd District Court of Appeal, an attorney for A Local And Regional Monitor (ALARM), a group of Echo Park, Temple-Beaudry and Elysian Park residents, contended that the city had a flawed General Plan to use as a guideline when it approved the Central City West development plan several years ago.
Among other arguments, ALARM attorney Sabrina Schiller said that because the city's General Plan did not include a "public transportation" section, there is nothing that maps potential locations for transit stops or addresses how commuters and residents will get to and from the project area, which is west of the Harbor Freeway in the Temple-Beaudry community.
Schiller also argued that the sewer system plan the city has in place is outdated and does not address the impact of this development or future projects.
She questioned how the city could approve the development project as consistent with the city's General Plan when the General Plan itself is incomplete, having been adopted and updated in bits and pieces. Because the city is now updating the General Plan again, Schiller said the Central City West project should be put on hold until the new plan is in place.
Development of Central City West has been slow to get off the ground because of the recession. One of the developers has considered selling its portion of the property to the Los Angeles Unified School District for a school site, which has triggered another community debate.
Attorneys for the city and the Central City West developers argued that ALARM has failed to show specifically what sections of their development plan do not comply with city guidelines.
They also contended, as a Superior Court judge did in the 1992 decision siding with the city, that the General Plan merely provides guidelines that city officials can modify at their discretion.
"Guidelines (mean) 'should,' 'we'd like to,' " said Kenneth Bley, attorney for Center City West Associates. "(City officials) were not required to be put in a straitjacket."
Justices Joan Dempsey Klein, Patti Kitching and H. Walter Croskey may take anywhere from a few days to several months to render their decision.