PLUM Decision Reaffirms Need for New Environmental Study in Elephant Hill

Statement by Tim Grabiel, Environmental Justice attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
LOS ANGELES (October 3, 2007) - Statement on the announcement that the LA Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee has granted late yesterday NRDC’s appeal challenging the LA Board of Public Works (BPW) issuance of a permit for the Elephant Hill project. The appeal, filed by NRDC and Chatten-Brown & Carstens, affirmed that the permit’s approval was in violation of an LA City Council’s earlier motion requiring additional environmental review before groundbreaking.
“This decision by the PLUM Committee not only reaffirms the need for a supplemental environmental review for the whole project but also places the decision-making power over this issue back where it belongs, with the City Council.
“The City Council should now exercise its authority when revisiting the matter and continue to defend the interests of the El Sereno community, protecting this rare parcel of undeveloped land.”
Background: In dispute are the 110 acres of Elephant Hill, one of the last undeveloped hillsides in the densely populated, majority Latino neighborhood of El Sereno, in Northeast Los Angeles, where Monterey Hill Investors plans to build a sprawling housing development. Originally planned in the early 1990s as a luxury homes subdivision with 24 residences, the development’s footprint has since expanded over 600 percent.
In early August, BPW approved the development’s building permit, even though this action contradicted an earlier City Council vote requiring a supplemental Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prior to issuing the permit. In June, the City Council had voted 8 to 2 to demand a new EIR for the project since the one being used by the developers was 17 years old, but the BPW issued the permit nonetheless.