LOS ANGELES – The environmental justice group Riverpark Coalition and the environmental watchdog organization Los Angeles Waterkeeper won a round in court when a judge found in their favor in their challenge to a proposed development adjacent to the Los Angeles River in Long Beach that they say was previously reserved for open space.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff ruled on Oct. 19 that the City violated the California Environmental Quality Act in approving the Pacific Place project, a proposed self-storage facility and parking lot, without properly examining and mitigating its environmental impacts.
“”This win is a victory for park equity and environmental justice for the most neglected side of Long Beach and the Lower Los Angeles River,” said Juan Ovalle, president of Riverpark Coalition. “The ruling defends much- needed park space, as well as the specific goals of the Long Beach Riverlink Plan and L.A. River Master Plan.”
The judge said the city must halt any work on the project unless and until they prepare an environmental impact report addressing significant environmental, biological, recreational and cultural impacts that the development could present. The site is across the Metro line tracks from Los Cerritos Elementary School, Los Cerritos Park and a residential neighborhood.
In their court papers, attorneys for Artesia Acquisition Co. LLC and Insite Property Group, the owner and proposed developer of the property, respectively, argued that the mitigated negative declaration adopted by the City Council was sufficient and that an EIR was not necessary. They also said the proposed self-storage project made the most of the site’s awkward layout and would develop a site that had long sat vacant.
The petitioners maintained that the parcel has long been promised to the western Long Beach community as its future river park and nature preserve.
“Instead of adding more concrete along the LA River, we need to be adding green spaces, especially in park poor neighborhoods such as western Long Beach,” said Bruce Reznik, executive director of LA Waterkeeper..