City Has Until Mid-May to Challenge Target Decision

Robert Silverstein, on behalf of plaintiff La Mirada Assoc. at today’s press conference. Photo: Erin Hickey.

(EAST HOLLYWOOD) The city of Los Angeles has until mid-May to file an objection to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s ruling April 26 that struck down its approval of a Hollywood Target shopping center for the second time in three years.

Target’s partially built three-story structure has sat empty since 2014, when Judge Richard L. Fruin Jr. concluded that the Los Angeles City Council’s approval of the project violated planning rules.

Los Angeles City Councilmembers responded two years later by creating new zoning for the site, but that vote also drew a new legal challenge, which Fruin said, in court documents, also violated the law.

At a press conference today, attorney Robert Silverstein, who represents the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Assoc. in the matter, said, “[Target and the City Council] continue to double down and break the law.”

The Target location is in what’s called a SNAP Zone, an acronym for Station Neighborhood Area Plan, created more than a decade ago to encourage dense housing near public transit. SNAP limits commercial buildings to 35-feet.

In 2014, the court ruled Target, at 74-feet, violated SNAP zoning laws and construction was halted.

But the city council in July of 2016, amended SNAP to create a new so-called “sub area,” that would allow commercial development up to 75-feet.

While an environmental review had originally been conducted on the Target, the city did not do another analysis of the potential impact of like-minded large commercial development that may occur in the future in the new so-called “sub area” and what affects, if any, that would create for the neighborhood in general.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garretti, who oversaw the district as council member when the issue began, and his successor, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, have repeatedly said the mega-store is needed at the location to generate income and jobs.

“They came up with this crazy idea of creating a new ‘sub area,'” said Doug Haines, of the La Mirada Assoc., “and it couldn’t be just for that Target. The 75 feet in height rule,” he said, “would have to be for [other developers] coming in.”

Haines ran to replace O’Farrell in the city’s March 7th election.

The new sub-area would pertain to commercial projects in the area with over 100,000 square feet on 3.5 acres within a quarter-mile of the 101 Freeway and mass transit. Click here to see the intersecting circles that are now part of the city’s new sub-area.

Areas on this map with intersecting circles show where the city could potentially allow commercial development up to 75-feet. A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, in the Target issue, ruled recently, the city needs to study the environmental impacts of such possible development on the larger community. meaning traffic, noise and pollution, to name a few. Image: Courtesy of Robert Silverstein. The Image has been altered to take out notations in the legend that do not apply directly to the issue.

According to the judge’s ruling, the city failed to analyze the impacts of such future development on the community, such as traffic and pollution, if further development, now possible by the sub-area were built in the future.

“They’ve lost at every turn,” said Haines. “It’s kind of a miracle that a handful of people and an overworked attorney could stop this process.”

The La Mirada Assoc. was formed in 2004 to fight the Los Angeles Unified School District’s desire to tear down homes and apartments in their neighborhood, a residential area south of Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood,  to build a school. They won that fight and have had about a dozen more suits against the city, each time victorious.

“We are not a large group,” Haines said, “just dedicated.”

Haines and Silverstein has said they aren’t opposed to a Target at the location, they just want the city to follow its rules.

Bill Zide, the three-term president of the Hollywood Studio District and formerly of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, also spoke at today’s press conference. He, like Haines, ran to unseat O’Farrell, and said, he, too wants a Target at the location.

“The position of the neighborhood council has never changed,” he said today. “We want Target there. . . . There [is] just one caveat: follow the law.”

Citizens Coalition Los Angeles, a second plaintiff, had also challenged the Target project.

According to attorney Silverstein, Target should respond to the ruling by demolishing the structure and building a store that is no taller than 35 feet in accordance with planning and zoning rules.

Kristy Welker, a Target spokeswoman, said company executives are now “evaluating next steps.” Rob Wilcox, spokesperson for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, declined to say whether the city will appeal Fruin’s decision.

They have until May 18, 2017 to do so.

This story was updated at 5:06 p.m. The deadline for the city to respond, according to attorney Silverstein, is May 18th.

This story was updated at 7:20 p.m. May 3, 2017 to include a photo of the sub-area created by the Los Angeles City Council. 

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