Fix The City, Save Hollywood, La Mirada and HELP won a victory earlier this year when Superior Court Judge Goodman ordered the City to rescind its new Hollywood Community Plan.

In response, the City not only rescinded the flawed plan, but also passed a resolution amending the General Plan to “overrule and supersede” the Court’s order.

A hearing was held June 20, 2014 and Judge Goodman’s ruling came out today. (Ruling here)  (Amended Writ here).

Key Court Findings:

  • “The Court holds that that portion of the April 2 Resolution which states or implies that the to-be~ revised HCPU (and EIR, etc.) need not comply with the City Charter or state law, including but not limited to Public Resources Code section 21081.6, is contrary to law and to the Judgment and Writ issued by this Court on February 11 , 2014.”
  • “The resolution of Respondents adopted on April 2, 2014 is demonstrably arbitrary, capricious and without basis in law for these reasons and to this extent. Further, no reasonable person could conclude that adoption of the April 2 Resolution made the General Plan of the City of Los Angeles internally consistent; indeed the contrary is the case for the reasons stated. “
  • “Because the offending part of the Resolution cannot be severed from the balance, Respondents are therefore ordered to reconsider the April 2 Resolution in full .”
  • “At this stage in this litigation it does appear, however, that Respondent City Council’s adoption of the April 2 resolution errs, inter alia, by suggesting that it need not redraft the HCPU, its EIR and related documents to provide appropriate monitoring or reporting programs; and Respondents’ actions constitute a misstatement and misapplication of the City Charter, state law and the February 11, 2014 Judgment.”

Fix The City had filed a supplemental writ concerning the City’s efforts in case the City claimed their actions represented their final action on the Court’s order.

Save Hollywood, La Mirada and HELP asserted that the City had created a new inconsistency in the General Plan, that the City had not complied with the writ and asked the Judge to force the City to rescind the change.

The Judge found that Save Hollywood and HELP were correct and that the City had therefore not complied with his original writ.

As such, since the writ was not final and FTC’s supplemental writ was “early.”  The Judge did inform FTC that FTC could re-file once the City’s final actions were known.

FTC thanks Judge Goodman for his careful and thorough review of this important issue.

(this post updated to reflect that the Judge ordered the City to reconsider its action, not rescind.)

The City has filed its response to the Fix The City win on the flawed Hollywood Community Plan.

The response can be read here.

As can be clearly seen, FTC did not seek any halt to ministerial approvals.  Those were initiated by the City.

Judge Goodman issued his final ruling in Fix The City v. The City of Los Angeles today.  The Judge also issued an Order.

Judge Goodman upheld each and every finding he made in his tentative ruling and also rebuked the City’s attempt to question several aspects of the ruling by saying:

“City filed two sets of comments concerning the Tentative Decision, to which the other parties responded. City’s citation of Neighbors for Smart Rail v.Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority(2013) 57 Cal.4th 439 is inapposite as this Court has concluded that, in the particular circumstances of the present case, reliance on the erroneous baseline was in fact prejudicial. Also, inapposite is City’s contention regarding newly enacted Government Code section 65755( c).  To be clear, this Court has not ruled on Fix the City’s challenge to the use of the Transportation Improvement and Mitigation Program (TIMP) as this Court finds that the overall impact analysis to be factually flawed and legally inadequate.”

Judge Allan Goodman has ruled in favor of Fix the City’s landmark suit concerning the Hollywood Community Plan.

The lawsuit was the first of three suits filed by Los Angeles area civic organizations.  The other two were filed by the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association and SaveHollywood.Org.

Fix The City’s suit sought to invalidate the Hollywood Community Plan approval based on numerous grounds including the failure to use the most recent census data and inconsistency with the City’s General Plan requirement that infrastructure be monitored and be able to support development.  In a meticulously detailed ruling, the Judge supported each of our contentions.

Fix The City filed suit on the Hollywood Community Plan as it represented a dangerous precedent for other community plan updates which are either in process or are planned, including those for the Mid-Wilshire area and West L.A.

Jim O’Sullivan, VP of Fix The City said: “Communities throughout the City know that the infrastructure has been unable to keep up with the demands placed on it.  Most importantly, our first-responders are stretched thin.  Also important is that the livability of the City is impacted by deteriorating streets, increased traffic and cuts to key departments such as Rec & Parks.  The first step in fixing the City is to have accurate data.”

Perhaps the most important aspects of today’s ruling by Judge Goodman were his findings on the General Plan and the requirement that Community Plans properly implement the infrastructure monitoring aspects of the General Plan.   He said:

“The City’s Revised Findings reveal how the Plan Update twists the monitoring requirements in Framework Policy 3.3.2 (the infrastructure monitoring policy) ….. The City’s position is that the Plan Update sufficiently addressed the infrastructure capacity of the area such that no further monitoring is required during implementation of the Plan Update. This hands-off policy is completely contrary to the Framework Element’s objective of continuous monitoring of development activity.”

As part of its General Plan, the city promised to monitor the infrastructure and to put building controls in place if any infrastructure element was threatened.   Many of the city’s community plans clearly describe the required monitoring and mitigation.  They state:

“…if this monitoring finds that population in the Plan area is occurring faster than projected; and, that infrastructure resource capacities are threatened, … and, that there is not a clear commitment to at least begin the necessary improvements within twelve months; then building controls should be put into effect, for all or portions of the [] Community, until land use designations for the Community Plan and corresponding zoning are revised to limit development.”

If even more clarity is required, the city provided it in their mitigation description for the General Plan.  They stated:

“Lastly, the policy requires that type, amount and location of development be correlated with the provision of adequate supporting infrastructure and services”

In fact, the City itself argued Fix the City’s position in the late 90’s when the General Plan was challenged in court.  The city stated:

“What became clear was that a crucial feature of dealing with growth impacts was contained in the GPF – its program for timing allowable development with available infrastructure…”

Unfortunately, the City failed to implement its own policy and the City and its residents are now facing the predictable result:  A failing infrastructure which results in a loss of services and decreased public safety.

Fix The City is represented by Beverly Palmer of Strumwasser and Woocher.

The Fix The City suit is not related to or targeted at any existing or proposed development projects, nor does it comment on any other environmental review other than that of the Hollywood Community Plan..

The decision can be found here