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Fix the City Takes LA to Court Over K-Town Catalina Tower … Planned for 27 Stories in a 3-5 Story Neighborhood

“A POSTER CHILD FOR WHAT’S WRONG”--Fix the City, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the Mayor’s and City Council’s approval of the controversial 27-story 269-unit luxury apartments known as Catalina Tower in Koreatown. (See graphic above.) 

The suit names Michael Hakim/Colony Holdings as Real Parties in Interest. 

This project is the poster child for what is wrong with the planning approval process in Los Angeles. The Mayor and City Council actually approved a project that their own City Planning Commissioner called a “tumor.” 

That’s because the 27 story project was approved in a neighborhood that has predominantly two to five story buildings. 

In the name of the need for increased density, neighborhoods are being destroyed in violation of the law. The City’s traffic is already unbearable. Its first-responders are asked to do more with less - with response times suffering as a result. Residents are asked to go to extreme measures to conserve water while the Council and Mayor approve huge projects that will consume tens of millions of gallons of water. (This one consumes 29 million gallons per year). 

Mayor Garcetti claimed in his State of the City Address that “we’ve transformed City Hall from a place of closed doors and backroom deals, to one of openness and accountability.” 

The Catalina project is the poster child not only for bad planning and violation of city laws but also for mysterious backroom deals. Nothing has changed in City Hall. 

The lawsuit alleges that: (1) the General Plan Amendment was not legally initiated by the City; (2) the project was dead-on-arrival because the developer never appealed the CPC rejection; (3) it challenges the failure of the city to require an Environmental Impact Report for this massive project, and (4) it asks that the City comply with its General Plan Fire/Emergency Section – Mitigation Measures mandate to “require that [the] type, amount, and location of development be correlated with the provision of adequate supporting infrastructure and services.” 

Adding more density to a city already collapsing under its own deteriorating infrastructure is as wise as trying to put out a fire with gasoline. It is time for city leaders to remember that they not only have to obey the law, they have an obligation to protect and respect those of us who already live here. As Koreatown goes, so goes every neighborhood. 

(Laura Lake is a board member at Fix the City.) Graphic credit: KCRW radio.

-cw