Playa Vista plan gets court approval
A state appellate court has upheld the city of Los Angeles' approval of Playa Vista's second and final phase.
Wetlands activists had challenged a revised environmental impact report for the Village, as Phase 2 of the big project south of Marina del Rey is known.
Wednesday's decision comes after a long trail of litigation, revision and further appeals.
The Los Angeles City Council initially approved the environmental analysis for the Village in April 2004. Challengers sued, alleging that the report was flawed. In January 2006, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge upheld the city's approval.
The activists appealed, and a three-judge panel in the 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed that three aspects of the environmental impact report should be revised.
The City Council approved the revised EIR in 2010. Activists once again challenged that approval in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The trial court upheld the council's approval in January 2011, and the challengers appealed again.
The three-judge panel that affirmed the trial court's ruling on Wednesday was the same panel that ordered the EIR revisions. The wetlands activists have 40 days to petition the California Supreme Court for review.
Rex Frankel, president of the Ballona Ecosystem Education Project, one of the Playa Vista challengers, said his organization planned "soon" to petition the state high court. He contended that there "is a good likelihood the Supreme Court will take our case."
Playa Capital Co-President Patti Sinclair said the company would vigorously oppose his filing. She added that the high court seldom takes rulings that are "unpublished," as this one is. She said the company expected to begin construction on the Village early next year.
The Village is intended to be the link between the Phase 1 residential community and the commercial campus that is home to Facebook, USC and a division of Fox Sports, among other employers. The Village will include retail stores and restaurants as well as parks, office space and multi-family residences.
[For the Record, 6 p.m. Nov. 10, 2011: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that Patti Sinclair was president of Playa Capital.]
-- Martha Groves
Photo: Playa Vista's first phase can be seen behind the Ballona Fresh Water Marsh. Environmentalists eager to preserve wetlands have sought to limit development. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times