Laurel Canyon Residents File Lawsuit to Protect Ancient Wildlife Corridor

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Concerned Residents of Stanley Hills Drive, a California unincorporated nonprofit association, in the Laurel Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills filed a lawsuit on Tuesday compelling the City of Los Angeles to enforce its own building codes and conditions at a multi-home development in order to save a critical corner on ancient wildlife corridor in one of the few remaining open connections in Los Angeles.

Irate Laurel Canyon neighbors organize to save the wildlife corridor from multi-home development

The City Departments have now thrown egg in the face of Planning Commission and community by blessing developer house plans that conveniently shrink the most critical section of the wildlife corridor.

Laurel Canyon community residents filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to compel the City of Los Angeles to enforce conditions it set on a multi-home project. These conditions required the developer to dedicate part of the project to protect an ancient wildlife corridor, one of the last open corridors for animal migration, running through the Hollywood hills. (Superior Court of California Case #BS138819)

As stated in the case, the City approved the development on the condition that the developer dedicate an easement, as requested by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) and neighbors, and that it be recorded in perpetuity. According to court documents, the Laurel Canyon residents later uncovered that the City allowed the developer to proceed with development without the wildlife corridor easement -- the latest in a series of errors over the years at this site favoring the developer.

SMMC Deputy Director of Natural Resources and Planning, Paul Edelman said, “The narrow wildlife corridor to Stanley Hills Drive approved by the Central Area Planning Commission represents the minimum scientifically supportable corridor width possible in the context of that site -- which includes a new 30-foot-tall house right on the corridor boundary.”

Added Edelman, “The City Departments have now thrown egg in the face of Planning Commission and community by blessing developer house plans that conveniently shrink the most critical section of the wildlife corridor.”

The lawsuit asks that the Court compel the City to follow its own conditions of project approval as well as require the developer to honor its written agreement with the residents.

Screen actor and theater producer Tom Hulce, one of the plaintiffs in the case and a neighbor, said “It is disheartening that the City has a history of helping this developer and ignoring its own laws to the detriment of the community.”

The lawsuit drew praise from the Laurel Canyon Association, which has been active in protecting the Laurel Canyon area. “Laurel Canyon is a unique oasis of nature that is under attack from spec developers and illegal construction,” said President Cassandra Barrere of the Laurel Canyon Association. http://laurelcanyonassoc.com.

Alison Simard, spokesperson for Concerned Residents of Stanley Hills Drive, which filed the suit, expressed the frustration of scores of neighborhood residents. “It is unbelievable that taxpaying residents have to hire an attorney to sue the City to get the City to follow its own conditions of approval for a development project.”

Rob Glushon, the residents’ attorney, who has previously served on a City commission that decided zoning appeals, said “This is the most egregious example of the City’s failure to follow its own conditions of project approvals that I have seen in more than thirty years of working inside and outside of City Hall.”

Concerned Residents of Stanley Hills Drive, a California unincorporated nonprofit association is fighting to preserve our Laurel Canyon animals, our environment our neighborhood. Concerned Residents of Stanley Hills Drive was initially created for the express purpose of saving the Stanley Hills Wildlife Corridor.

Contact: Alison Simard (323) 445-8402, alisimard(at)gmail(dot)com
        Rob Glushon (818) 970-9014 rglushon(at)lunaglushon(dot)com

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Alison Simard
Stern & Co
(323) 650-7117
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