Homeowners May Go to Court to Save Bluffs From Developers

Times Staff Writer

Rebuffed by the Los Angeles City Council last week, a dissident group of Westchester homeowners says it will take its fight to court if necessary to preserve the Westchester Bluffs from development.

After the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to uphold the Planning Commission’s approval for the subdivision of two parcels above the bluffs for the construction of 142 single-family houses, organizers said they would ask Mayor Tom Bradley to veto the council’s action.

If that fails, a spokesman said, the group is prepared to file suit alleging that the environmental impact report was improperly prepared in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.


Patrick J. Marley, an attorney for the Coalition of Concerned Communities, an umbrella group of Westside community groups, said the report was based on erroneous information, particularly when addressing sewage and traffic problems.

Restraining Order

Marley said he will seek a restraining order to prevent the developer, Howard Hughes Realty Inc., from starting on the project. Actual construction is months away, however, because Hughes Realty must submit specific plans and building permits for city approval.

Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who represents the area, urged her colleagues to support the project, saying it was a compromise worked out by another residents group and the developer.

Galanter said she shared some of the environmental concerns expressed by the coalition but said that with such an emotional issue, not everyone would be pleased with the results.

“The community is not unanimous on this matter,” she said.

The two parcels are part of the vast holdings of the estate of the late industrialist Howard Hughes. The bluffs overlook Hughes Airport along Jefferson Boulevard and the proposed Playa Vista project, a massive residential and commercial community being planned by Maguire Thomas Partners in a joint venture with another Howard Hughes subsidiary.

Hughes Realty had originally proposed subdividing two parcels totaling 42 acres on the bluffs and building 205 homes. But opposition by Galanter and a community advisory group appointed by Galanter and her predecessor, Pat Russell, resulted in rejection of those plans by the Planning Commission staff in February, 1988.


The developer appealed, and meanwhile worked with Galanter and the advisory group on a new proposal. The compromise called for 142 homes on two parcels totaling nearly 23 acres. The remaining 19 acres would be left as open space.

One parcel, between Dunbarton Avenue and the bluffs, will have 52 houses. The other, between Kentwood Avenue and the bluffs, will have 90.

Residents and Galanter had objected to the developer’s original plans to grade the top and face of the bluffs and to fill in ravines to provide additional lots for homes. Opponents said the project would have destroyed a wildlife habitat and the stability of the bluffs, and would have created too much additional traffic.

In the revision, in addition to providing more open space, the developer has agreed not to alter the face of the bluffs and to provide landscaping.

The dissident residents group, the Committee to Preserve Open Space, emerged just before the revised plans went before the Planning Commission in March.

Marilyn Cole, a spokeswoman for the committee, said the advisory group did not represent the views of the majority of homeowners in the area. She presented Galanter with a petition with more than 500 signatures asking that no homes be built and that the entire bluffs area be preserved as open space.


Galanter has maintained that the city does not have the money to buy the land from Hughes Realty and maintain it as open space.