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Housing Project Triggers Conservancy Suit to Protect Plant

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy sued Westlake Village on Monday, demanding that the city delay construction of a 51-home development until its impact on an endangered species of flower found near the site has been studied further.

Joseph T. Edmiston, director of the conservancy, said the environmental impact report approved by the city for the Lake Eleanor Hills project “did not adequately address the issue of the impact” on the Pentachaeta Lyonii , an indigenous yellow flowering plant found only in the Santa Monica Mountains.

“We’re asking them to go back and further study the impact on this endangered species,” Edmiston said.

Mike Matthews, assistant to the city manager, said he was aware of the lawsuit but could not comment.

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The 74.5-acre development site is at the southern end of Westlake Village, north and east of Westlake Boulevard and Decker Canyon Road. It is home to one of the largest populations of the plant in the mountains.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by the state attorney general’s office on behalf of the conservancy, contends that the environmental impact report used inadequate botanical and archeological surveys; inadequate studies of aquatic, visual and use impacts, and an inadequate study of the relationship of habitat and wildlife movement.

According to the report, 91% of the plants on the construction site would be destroyed by the development, Edmiston said.

Over the past three months, the conservancy and other agencies have asked the developer, M. J. Brock and Sons, to cut back the number of houses from 51 to 30, which would allow the areas where the plant is found to remain as open space and would protect the wildlife habitat.

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Edmiston said the city “concluded that all of these described environmentally sensitive alternatives” were economically unfeasible and unacceptable, and approved the project.

The conservancy has said it identified at least 15 endangered or sensitive species, in addition to the Pentachaeta Lyonii , near the proposed construction site.


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