By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
The Pacific Palisades Residents Association’s fight against the development of an eldercare facility in The Highlands continued at a hearing on Thursday, March 12.
PPRA has been “unrelenting in demanding that the city of Los Angeles and California Coastal Commission follow the law,” said PPRA President Sarah Conner.
The association is appealing exemptions and approvals by the city and CCC of the project: a four-story, 45-feet-high, 64,646-square-foot eldercare facility by Brentwood developer Rony Shram.
The lawsuit was originally filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, as a “petition for writ of mandate”: a request for a court order that demands a government agency to follow the law or correct prior actions.
On March 12, defendants stood before Judge John A. Torribio at the Norwalk Courthouse for a hearing: The court heard oral arguments made by both sides.
Attorney Justin Lee appeared on behalf of Xavier Becerra, alongside Matthew Hinks and Kathryn Oehlschlager in defense of the city of Los Angeles (respondents), while Thomas Donovan and John Murdock appeared in defense of the PPRA (petitioners).
Attorney Kevin M. McDonnell appeared on behalf of developer Rony Shram (real parties in interest).
The respondents argued that substantial evidence supports the project’s exemptions and is consistent with the definition of “infill site” and applicable policies.
The respondents stated that the project is “an institutional use that includes residential and commercial components”—the first floor of the building would include commercial uses and access to guest rooms would be considered “residential” uses.
Petitioners argued that the project’s exception provided by Section 12.22.A.18(c)(3) is only applicable to projects with a first floor used exclusively for commercial uses, but didn’t cite limitations under Los Angeles Municipal Code.
The respondents contend that the city is entitled to interpretation of its own zoning codes—allowing the application of zoning exceptions.
Similarly, the respondents contend that the Coastal Commission is responsible for implementing the Coastal Act’s policies.
“There is a process that determines that that project falls within regulations,” Oehlschlager said. “It’s not limited. If it was, it would say so, but it doesn’t.”
Ultimately, the court is taking the matter under submission. Judge Torribio is expected to re-analyze the briefs and submit a new tentative ruling.
“Judge [Torribio] did not indicate when his revised or new tentative ruling will be issued,” Donovan said in an email statement to the Palisadian-Post.
On Friday, March 13, Chief U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips issued an order causing a delay in trials as a precaution against coronavirus.
“No jurors would be called for criminal or civil trials until April 13,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
A date has not been provided for further argument.
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