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Judge Upholds City Approval of Playa Vista Project

Effectively removing the last legal obstacle to what could eventually become the largest development project in the city’s history, a Superior Court judge has found that Los Angeles authorities acted properly when they approved an environmental impact report for the Playa Vista development near Marina del Ray.

Opponents had argued that the report failed to disclose the cumulative effects the project would have on traffic, air pollution and water quality. They also said that officials erred by approving the first phase of the project before a master plan was in place.

But in a ruling Tuesday, Judge David Rothman found that the city followed the California Environmental Quality Act in approving the 14,000-page document, which he found to be “daunting but not impenetrable.”

The first phase would include more than 3,000 residential units, 1.25 million square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of retail space and 300 hotel rooms. The $7-billion project would eventually grow to the size of Hermosa Beach, with its own marina.

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Kathy Knight, treasurer of Save Ballona Wetlands, an ad hoc group that challenged the report in court after the City Council approved it last fall, said it was too early to comment on the judge’s ruling, “but we still have the same concerns.”

Doug Gardner, project manager for Playa Vista and a vice president of developer Maguire Thomas Partners, said the decision “vindicates the hard work that we and the city of Los Angeles put into the environmental documentation.”

Under the terms of an earlier lawsuit, the developer is required to restore and preserve the 270-acre Ballona Wetlands on the property.


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