Water Plant Gets Another Chance : Judge Blocks Scheduled Razing of Beverly Hills Building

Times Staff Writer

In a victory for Beverly Hills preservationists, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking the demolition of the La Cienega Treatment Plant until April 10.

Judge Jerry K. Fields issued the order Thursday at the request of attorneys for Friends of the Waterworks, which wants Beverly Hills to preserve the 59-year-old treatment plant, the city's first civic building.

Fields will determine at the April 10 hearing whether to issue a preliminary injunction.

Friends of the Waterworks filed suit, contending that city officials failed to order an environmental impact report before deciding to demolish the building.

Fields also ruled that the preservation group would not have to post a $2-million bond requested by the city to halt the demolition. The city requested the bond because officials feared that the wrecking company hired to raze the building would claim damages. Officials also said that the building was unsafe and was not insured.

The friends claim that the city ignored state environmental laws when the City Council voted to demolish the treatment plant on March 3. The group states that the building is of historical significance and therefore the city should have ordered an environmental impact study on the demolition.

A majority of council members decided that the building would cost too much to renovate. The city wants to raze the structure in favor of a grass field in La Cienega Park.

Mayor Charlotte Spadaro, who opposes the demolition, said in an interview that she was pleased by the judge's ruling and that "I hope the council will reconsider its decision" on the building.

Fred C. Cunningham, city public affairs director, had no comment other than to say that the city attorney would present the city's case at the April 10 hearing.

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