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Builders Won't Have to Submit Report

The City Council votes not to require Playa Vista housing project developers to turn in a second environmental impact study.

January 12, 2006|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council decided Wednesday against requiring the builders of the massive Playa Vista housing project to write a supplemental environmental impact report.

The vote came one day after a Superior Court judge threw out two lawsuits against the second phase of Playa Vista brought by the city of Santa Monica and environmental groups.

It was victories on both counts for the project, which has been slowly rising for several years.

On Wednesday, the council spent more than an hour in closed session trying to decide on a motion by Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl to require Playa Vista builders to submit a supplemental report.

In the tangle of lawsuits that has surrounded Playa Vista, an appellate court had ruled in October that the city wrongly approved an earlier report by Playa Vista on how builders plan to deal with methane gas trapped underground.

The court told the city to go back to the drawing board and decide whether a supplemental report was needed.

Playa Vista has already built 2,000 units as part of its first phase, and about 1,200 more units are under construction or about to be.

In the second phase, an additional 2,600 residential units will be built, along with a retail center to serve Playa Vista residents.

Playa Vista officials said that a supplemental report, even if required by the city, might not have halted construction.

Over the last two weeks, the council was heavily lobbied by Playa Vista officials because supplemental reports are expensive and the process can be lengthy.

Rosendahl sought the report because, he said, he wanted to make phase one as safe as possible. Last spring, he campaigned on slowing or stopping phase two of Playa Vista.

The council often sides with members on issues involving their districts but departed from that custom in Wednesday's closed-session vote.

As for his colleagues voting against him, Rosendahl said: "Many of them have been around this large conglomerate that is creating Playa Vista and has tentacles throughout the whole region, and they have other historical relationships with [the developer] and some of the lobbyists" involved with the project.

Instead of the supplemental report -- which would have been more open to public scrutiny -- the council asked its chief legislative analyst to further examine the issue.

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