From City News Service
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge tentatively ruled April 30 that development of a $1 billion skyscraper project in Hollywood should be halted, but the developer said the company plans to push ahead with the project.
Judge James Chalfant ordered the city not to issue permits or authorization for the Millennium Hollywood project, a ruling that was hailed as a victory by the project’s opponents, who sued to stop the city from allowing the project to be built.
Chalfant ruled that the Los Angeles City Council improperly approved the project by failing to do sufficient traffic impact studies.
The judge did not specifically rule on whether the site sits on an active earthquake fault — which opponents have long argued — but said the city did perform required studies of the issue and properly disclosed the results before the project was approved.
The Millennium Hollywood project — which calls for 35- and 39-story towers flanking the Capitol Records building — was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in 2013.
Robert Silverstein, an attorney for the group StopTheMilleniumHollywood.com and other project opponents, said the ruling “vindicates the public’s right to have an open and truthful process with full public participation.”
George Abrahams, one of the plaintiffs, celebrated the ruling as a “victory” and said it is “an important step in correcting the rampant abuses from L.A. City Hall.”
Phillip Aarons, a partner with the developer Millennium Partners, said the company is “considering our options for addressing the issues cited by the court and are fully committed to moving forward with our project.”
He said he was “gratified by the judge’s ruling on the seismic issues acknowledging the appropriateness of our studies.”
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the Hollywood area and supports the project, said Chalfant’s ruling “was mixed and we won’t know the ultimate outcome until the appeals and various causes of action are heard.”
The project “has garnered a significant amount of attention since it was first announced, none of it helpful to the economic health, future and job growth in Hollywood,” he said.
He said the project “will eventually clear the way for development on parcels that have been surface parking lots in the heart of Hollywood for at least 60 years.”
The judge agreed with the plaintiffs that the city’s traffic impact review was insufficient and the city failed to heed Caltrans request to study the impacts of the project on traffic around the Hollywood (101) Freeway.
The city’s study of the project also did not include traffic impacts from other ongoing projects such as the NBC/Universal development, according to Chalfant.
The judge also ruled that the project was too vague and would allow more than just two skyscrapers to be built.
Chalfant also ruled that the city improperly approved a zone change that would allow the developer broad ability to build a variety of projects, including a hospital or an entertainment center.
It was the third development project in Hollywood that Silverstein has successfully sued to stop.
On April 22, Judge Chalfant upheld a city order to evict tenants at the Sunset and Gordon apartment complex after an earlier court ruling sided with Silverstein’s challenging of city approval of the project.
Silverstein also obtained a court order to halt the construction of a new Target store at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue.