HOLLYWOOD — City officials and developers have been dealt another setback when a judge once again ruled against a Target store that was two-thirds built before construction was ordered to stop.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin Jr. ruled April 26 that the Los Angeles City Council illegally failed to require an environmental review before allowing Target to build a store on Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue that exceeded height limits in that area.
That ruling followed a ruling the previous day that halted a controversial 178-foot multi-tower at the foot of Laurel Canyon, dubbed “8150 Sunset.” 8150 Sunset would severely jam traffic and destroy the character of the low-rise, heavily historic community situated on the West Hollywood/Hollywood border, according to opponents of the project.
The Los Angeles Conservancy sued the city to block the 8150 Sunset project because it would cause the historic 1960s Lytton Savings bank on the site to be demolished.
The Target store, which has sat unfinished at Sunset and Western since August 2014, could have been open and operating if elected leaders had followed the rules and listened to the community, attorney Robert P. Silverstein said.
Judge Fruin found that the council’s approval of the hotly contested zone change to build the Target would negatively impact traffic, noise and air pollution.
Silverstein, who represents the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association in the Target case, said city leaders tried to change the zoning long after the fact, to justify their illegal approval of the Target store.
“By trying to retrofit the zoning to save Target’s illegal project, the City Council committed a new string of illegal acts,” Silverstein said.
Silverstein said Target had envisioned a new store that would fit in comfortably with community zoning rules. But, according to court documents, then-Councilman Eric Garcetti privately persuaded Target to erect a much bigger building that ignored local zoning.
Silverstein said his client never opposed a legal Target store.
“For years we have asked the City Council and Target to follow the law,” he added. “It’s that basic. But they keep saying, ‘catch us if you can.’ That is not how elected officials should conduct the public’s business.”
Environmental advocates, livable community proponents and activists seeking intelligent planning point to the courtroom losses as evidence that City Hall is not listening to its communities, nor is it abiding by the law, the Coalition to Preserve L.A. said in a statement.
“No wonder citizens have so little faith in L.A. City Hall,” Silverstein said.