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Playa Vista Developers to Halt Roadwork for Now

September 17, 2002|MARTHA GROVES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Wetlands proponents claimed a victory Monday when Playa Vista's developers agreed in Los Angeles Superior Court to temporarily halt roadwork near the controversial project.

Opponents of the 1,087-acre commercial and residential development near Playa del Rey said the temporary restraining order is significant because it probably will push the Culver Boulevard construction into next spring. Under California Coastal Commission rules, no grading can be done during the rainy season, Oct. 15 to March 30.

"It helps save the plants and the wetlands from being destroyed," said Marcia Hanscom, with the Sierra Club Ballona Wetlands Task Force. She said the land near where the roadwork is planned qualifies as a wetland because of plant life that includes seaside heliotrope.

Attorneys for Playa Vista and the Coastal Commission agreed to a temporary restraining order signed by Judge George H. Wu.

Wu did not actually hear the case, which challenges the commission's approval of the widening of Culver Boulevard between Lincoln Boulevard and the Marina Freeway and a ramp between Culver and Jefferson boulevards. Rather, he set a hearing for Thursday to determine when and by whom the case would be heard.

He vowed to set a date next week for a hearing on a preliminary injunction. The restraining order would expire Sept. 27.

Attorneys for Playa Vista said they expect to prevail.

The "project opponents who led the challenge have a pattern and practice of filing similar lawsuits, only to lose once the issue is fully heard by the court," attorneys said in a statement.

They said the roadwork is "critically needed" to improve traffic flow and safety.

Hanscom challenged that contention. "These little minor traffic improvements that will hurt the wetlands but not substantially help the traffic are a joke," she said.

The plans call for adding a traffic lane and a turn lane to Culver Boulevard and building modified and new ramp connections between Culver and Jefferson.

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