Runyon Canyon neighbors file lawsuit to stop construction of basketball court

A sign in Runyon Canyon park touts the construction of a basketball court. Neighbors of the park are seeking to stop the court from being built.

A sign in Runyon Canyon park touts the construction of a basketball court. Neighbors of the park are seeking to stop the court from being built.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Neighbors of Runyon Canyon Park filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court this week, seeking to halt construction of a basketball court at the popular recreation area.

The suit was brought by several individuals who live near the park and a newly formed “unincorporated association” calling itself Citizens Preserving Runyon. It makes numerous arguments that the project should be stopped -- including that “affected neighbors and residents” were not given due process in the decision to approve the basketball court.

The lawsuit states that the city improperly exempted the project from environmental review and that “the noise impacts” from the court “will present a substantial permanent increase in ambient noise levels” both inside and outside the park and make traffic and parking problems worse.


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It also contends that the construction of a basketball court runs counter to the park’s 1986 master plan and violates the city’s guidelines for off-leash dog exercise areas.

The court is being built partway up a trail, about half a mile in from the southern entrance to the park that is used by an estimated 35,000 people a week.

The project is being paid for by a private donation from Neima Khaila, chief executive of a streetwear company called Pink Dolphin. He also is paying for a new retaining wall that holds up a trail just above the court.

In recognition of the donation of more than $250,000 and a promise to maintain the court for at least 10 years, the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks is allowing Khaila to put his company’s logo on the court’s surface.

News of the branded basketball court broke just as the park was being shut down for three months in order to repair aging water pipes that snake under its trails. Many park users said they felt blindsided because they had never been told such a project was under consideration, let alone that a court would be built while the park was closed.

Some objected to any sort of corporate messaging inside the 136-acre park. Many at a packed neighborhood council meeting the week after the park closed demanded that the deal be revoked.

They were angry at the city for approving the court, and at Friends of Runyon Canyon -- a nonprofit group -- for acting on behalf of parkgoers without making a major effort to inform them or find out how they felt about the project.

The city’s Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners gave final approval to the basketball court in November.

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