Judge halts Long Beach project abutting Los Angeles River – Press Telegram

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The environmental justice group Riverpark Coalition and environmental organization Los Angeles Waterkeeper have won a round in court after a judge ruled in their favor in their challenge to a proposed development in Long Beach adjacent to the Los Angeles River that they say was previously reserved for open space.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff ruled last week that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving Pacific Place, a proposed self-storage and parking lot, without properly studying and mitigating its environmental impacts.

“This victory is a victory for park justice and environmental justice for the most neglected part of Long Beach and the lower Los Angeles River,” said Riverpark Coalition President Juan Ovalle. “The ordinance protects much-needed park space and the specific goals of the Long Beach Riverlink Plan and the Los Angeles River Master Plan.”

The judge said the city must stop any work on the project until they prepare an environmental impact report that addresses the significant environmental, biological, recreational and cultural impacts the development could have. The site is across the tracks of the subway line from Los Cerritos Elementary School, Los Cerritos Park and a residential area.

According to city spokesman Kevin Lee, the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office had not yet seen the court’s decision as of Monday afternoon.

“At this time, they are unable to provide more information about the results,” Lee said, “or any possible next steps.”

In their court documents, lawyers 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 needed. They also said the proposed self-storage project makes the most of the site’s awkward layout and will develop a site that has been vacant for a long time.

The petitioners argued that the site had long been promised to the western Long Beach community as a future river park and preserve.

“Instead of adding more concrete along the Los Angeles River,” said LA Waterkeeper Executive Director Bruce Resnick, “we need to add green space, especially in park-poor areas like west Long Beach.”

Staff writer Christy Hutchings contributed to this report.

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