By City News Service
Opponents of a Hollywood-area development plan that cleared the way for denser projects and taller buildings were celebrating Wednesday a judge's tentative ruling that the zoning blueprint is "fundamentally flawed, and fatally so."
The 41-page tentative ruling issued Tuesday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman could throw a wrench into proposed projects that were based on the Hollywood Community Plan, which was approved by the City Council last year.
The planning document was approved with vocal support from then-City Councilman Eric Garcetti, now the mayor, and vigorous opposition from Hollywood residents' groups who contended the plan would increase traffic congestion.
Supporters of the development plan said it would help the city transform run-down and crime-plagued neighborhoods into bustling residential and commercial centers.
In his tentative ruling, Goodman said the Hollywood Community Plan was based on outdated population estimates from 2004 and 2005 and does not properly address an increased need for city services. He ordered the city to rescind the plan and to stop issuing permits for projects that were based on the community plan.
"It's a significant setback," said Beverly Palmer, an attorney for Fix the City, one of three groups that filed lawsuits in 2012 challenging the plan.
While city officials might not be required to start from scratch, "they will have to begin much of the process again" under the ruling, Palmer said.
Planning Department Director Michael LoGrande said he and other planning officials were "disappointed" by the ruling and "will be discussing our appeal options" with the city attorney.
Meanwhile, plaintiffs in the lawsuit hailed the ruling.
"We're very pleased," said Mike Eveloff of Fix the City. "I think when you take a look at the plan, it really didn't satisfy the legal requirements for a community plan."
George Abraham of SaveHollywood.org, another group that challenged the plan in court, said the city also should have included an alternative that addressed a declining population in Hollywood.
He said high-density, "transit-oriented" development plans, which are dependant on increased public transit usage, have lost favor in other places and should not be adopted in Hollywood.
"Our position overall is that Hollywood is the wrong place to concentrate development," he said.
Goodman's ruling applies to both groups' lawsuits, as well as that of a third group, La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association of Hollywood.
Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer should "take to heart Judge Goodman's rebuke over the use of false data," said attorney Richard MacNaughton, who represents Save Hollywood.org and other groups. "This admonition applies not only to the Hollywood Community Plan, which now must be redone, but also to all other" environmental impact reports and official documents.
"In particular, Mayor Garcetti and City Attorney Feuer need to stop the similar misbehavior with the other community plans which are presently being prepared," he said.
Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb said the mayor's office was still "reviewing the court's decision."