GOVERNING BY LAWSUIT … NEW MOBILITY PLAN HEADED TO COURT--Tuesday was a most remarkable day at Los Angeles City Hall. Who can remember such a slap down as was meted out to Councilmembers Gilbert Cedillo and Paul Koretz?
There was a time when each councilmember was given accommodation for his/her own district. Each councilmember was king or queen of his/her own realm. Both Councilmember Cedillo and Councilmember Koretz asked for that accommodation with respect to their districts over the Mobility Plan 2035, but like Rodney Dangerfield, they got no respect.
CM Koretz wants the dangerous bike lanes removed from Westwood Boulevard, and CM Cedillo wanted changes which would affect only his council district.
Council President Herb (Daddy) Wesson chided them not to worry as MP 2035 was aspirational only and they could easily make their changes after MP 2035 was law. CM Cedillo said that once passed, MP 2035 would be treated like a constitution.
Because neither CM Koretz nor CM Cedillo was born yesterday and they knew enough not to rely on Daddy Wesson. They turned to Ken Bernstein and Claire Bowin from City Planning.
It is refreshing to hear the truth spoken in council chambers. As Mr. Bernstein and Ms. Bowin explained, for the changes which Koretz and Cedillo wanted, a new Draft Environmental Impact Report [DEIR] would probably be needed. Then, the DEIR would go to committees and then to the City Planing Commission and then back to Housing and PLUM committees and then to City Council. Let’s see, it took MP 2035 four or five years to traverse that route; how long would it take to make substantive amendments in MP 2035 to protect the health of constituents in CD #5 and CD #1?
Both CM Cedillo and CM Koretz knew that the process which Mr. Bernstein and Ms. Bowin described meant, “No changes.” It’s like Henry Ford said, “The public can have any color car they want so long as it is black.” Step one of a new DEIR would be under Garcetti’s control as he appoints the Director of Planning. Since Garcetti wants no changes in MP 2035, the Planning Director will make certain there never would be an DEIR for any change.
As CM Cedillo (photo right) put it, this was a now or never moment. Either his district was accorded due regard and MP 20235 be amended during this hearing or it would never be amended. The “never amend the MP 2035 option” prevailed.
Thus, Councilmembers Koretz and Cedillo voted, “No,” on MP 2035. And, these were real ‘Nos’. These were not like the philosophical “No” that CM Englander cast on the minimum wage.
Shall we mention the comments of Councilmember David [El Titere Milquetoast] Ryu? No. They were too embarrassingly obsequious to bear revisiting.
What does all this mean?
OK, This is the really serious part!
Major decisions are no longer made in City Council, but in the courts. Because the City has been pushing through absurd measures like The Hollywood Community Plan Update and The Millennium Project without paying any attention to the law, each major proposal ends up in the courts.
Mobility Plan 2035 is based on fatally flawed data and wishful thinking. Its failure to follow the proper procedure subverted the law. It does not take a genius to figure out that when the City refuses to follow the law, then disgruntled people will sue and win!
The difference between Mobility Plan 2035 and the Hollywood Community Plan Update is that MP 2035 affects the entire city. Thus, any district which does not have some group file a Petition with the court will be left out of the decision making process.
Let’s face it, the homeowners in CD #5 are not going to spend their time arguing for people in CD #1. Not only do they not care about CD #1, they don’t even know where CD #1 is located. The same applies CD #6 and CD #8 Where in the world are they located? Most Angelenos don’t know in which district they live, let alone where the other districts are.
We know that Mid Wilshire will be well represented by Fix The City, and Hollywood will have Hollywoodians Encouraging Logical Planning and there will be Citizens Coalition Los Angeles taking a broader perspective, but who will speak for North Valley? What about Van Nuys? What about Koretz’ CD #5?
Los Angeles has fifteen (15) council districts, each with its own needs. The only time and place where the residents of the many districts will have any voice in Los Angeles’ future will be in the Los Angeles Superior Court. This is not how it should be, but it is how it is.
Under this new and undesirable Governance by the Litigation, it truly will be “GOD helps those who help themselves.” A judge cannot listen to people who haven’t filed a petition, and thus, will be barred from his/her courtroom.
Under this new Governance by Litigation, all the Petitioners will have to become “related cases” before one judge. They cannot be “consolidated” as the interests of the various groups will be at odds with each other. There are groups in South Central who may challenge MP 2035 for having too few Bikes Lanes in their part of town and they most certainly cannot be forced to consolidate with groups who oppose any Bike Lanes. No attorney can be lead counsel for parties which have opposing viewpoints and refuse to waive the conflict.
All petitioners will need to be before one judge. Otherwise, there is a virtual guarantee of conflicting court orders on MP 2035 from different judges. Fortunately, Los Angeles County has facilities for complex litigation.
This is the reality that faces the City of Los Angeles. When major proposals are based on fatally false data and are forced upon people against their will, they go the courts. The courts have no choice but to reject the measures which are unlawful. Because Mobility Plan 2035 covers the entire city, all segments of the city need to file petitions in order to have a voice in court where the real decisions will be made.
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch. )
Vol 13 Issue 66
Pub: Aug 14, 2015