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Lopez Canyon Ruling: City Don’t Know CEQA

OPEN SPACE SPAT - It looks like CEQA does matter in Los Angeles after all. If you take the City to court over it, that is. Monday’s preliminary finding against Councilman Richard Alarcon and the City's attempt to misuse open space at the now-closed Lopez Canyon Landfill [link] went down as a no-brainer: the City must file a full EIR and go through the full CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) process if they really really want to shove a truck driving academy on Lopez Canyon park land.

The Lopez Canyon saga is a long story, full of disdain and abuse by the City and Alarcon in particular for residents and the community surrounding the land in question. You can read the sordid background here.  [link] But today, the good guys won a big one. The final ruling is due in a week.

If a full EIR is ultimately upheld through the appeals process, it will cost the City and project supporters a pretty penny and delay the project for years. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the grant funds being funneled to the union-sponsored non-profit truck driving academy project.

Perhaps project supporters will finally give up the notion of City open space as "free land" and lease flat industrial land for this project - like anyone else would logically do.

Here's the e-blast from the Community Alliance for Open Space:

May 16, 2011 - Tentative Ruling - CAfOS Hearing

Judge Ann Jones of the LA County Superior Court tentatively ruled that the City of Los Angeles neither fulfilled CEQA requirements nor made the findings for a variance to allow a Truck Driving Academy on Open Space at the former Lopez Canyon landfill.

Attorneys for both the City of Los Angeles and CAfOS responded to the tentative ruling and questions from the judge. After more than an hour of discussion the judge advised both parties that her final ruling would be issued by the following week.

The final ruling may not be the end of the Open Space challenge at Lopez Canyon. The final ruling can be appealed and/or an EIR and General Plan Amendment could be required.

Stay tuned concerned community members and Open Space supporters. We will let you know what’s next once the final ruling is issued.

(Kristin C. Sabo is an open space advocate and blogs at She can be reached at -cw

Vol 9 Issue 40
Pub: May 20, 2011