Will They Get This Thing Built … Before Target Goes Out of Biz?

CORRUPTION WATCH-The sorry saga of the Hollywood Target store continues. Rather than allow Target to construct its store, Eric Garcetti has pushed Target into eternal litigation. On February 21, 2018, Target filed its opening brief in the current round of appellate cases case (# B283480 Target v CCLA). 


Target’s legal papers admit what people have claimed all along: 

(1) Garcetti is the cause for the endless delays. 

(2) The City is spot zoning, exactly as Measure S people claimed. 

Garcetti Insisted on the Illegal Store 

Sometime prior to 2008, Target Corporation became interested in constructing a store in famed Hollywood. Target reviewed the zoning, the demographics, the city’s specific plans governing what type of structures could or could not be built, and found itself ready, willing, and able to construct a store which satisfied all legal conditions. 

Then Garcetti happened.Back then, Eric Garcetti was councilmember for Hollywood’s Council District 13, whose northern boundary was Hollywood Boulevard, placing the Target site at Sunset and Western under his control. Unfortunately, Target did not listen to William Henley’s admonition to be “master of its fate, and captain of its soul.” 

As Target’s new attorney Miriam Vogel’s opening brief admits, Garcetti was not satisfied with the proposed Target Store which conformed to the law, but rather,he desired a store that violated the law. This was not what Target proposed. But Target myopically acceded to the City wishes. (Target Brief p 13 §2) 

The law in question was a Specific Plan [SNAP] which had gone into effect on March 1, 2001, one of the newest additions to the City’s land use regulations. SNAP was not some antiquated code from decades earlier as many people incorrectly claimed. 

While Jackie Goldberg wasthe CD 13 City Councilmember, each parcel of land in the specific plan area had been studied and designated as falling into one of five (5) SubAreas. Furthermore, the City decided that the SNAP portion of Hollywood would have no Big Lot type stores. SNAP limited any all-commercial project to 35 feet.Garcetti, however, was insisting on a store that was 75 feet tall. If Garcetti had allowed Target to place the parking underground as Target had proposed, the store would have satisfied the 35-foot height. 

It is important for people to realize that the sole reason the Target store has not been constructed is Garcetti’s demand that the parking be constructed above ground level and not underground as Target had proposed. In addition, Garcetti did not want a stand-alone Target store; he wanted other retail establishments to be added, pushing Target’s entrance to the third floor. 

Target Brief Pretends That the Neighbors Were at Fault 

Ms. Vogel misleadingly stated, “The neighborhood groups wanted to block of development.” (Target Brief page 10, §1 No.) That is not accurate. The groups supported a Target Store and they had no complaint with the original Target plan. The groups opposed the Garcetti imposed structure because it violated the law. 

After the first trial, court agreed that the neighbors were correct that the Garcetti design violated the law. Target could have constructed a legal store – provided it could get a permit from Garcetti. But Garcetti still wanted his design. 

The City is Spot zoningfor The Target Store 

During the last election when Measure S was on the ballot to prevent spot zoning, the City denied it engaged in spot zoning.Spot zoning, which should be called “spot re-zoning,” is when the City changes the zone for just one project. Zoning laws are intended to establish rules for large areas and by their very nature spot re-zoning destroys the purpose of zoning. When a developer can have a projectspot re-zoned so that it does not conform to the law, other developers claim the same right. Soon, zoning is destroyed as each new developer cries, “Discrimination! You let him re-zone. Why not me?”  

The Vogel brief makes it clear that the city engaged in spot re-zoning for the Target Store after it lost the first lawsuit. She wrote: 

“Based on the City's amendment to the Hollywood development plan and an addendum to the judicially approved EIR, the City approved Target's Project by creating a new zoning area (Subarea F) that applied to only the Target site.” [bold added] (Target Brief page 11, § 2) 

“Amendment to the Hollywood development plan.” Really? What is this? Judge Allan Goodman threw out the 2012 Hollywood Community Plan in January 2014 and no new plan has been released. Thus, the reality is that Hollywood was left with the 1988 Hollywood Community Plan which has no amendment. The vital point, however, is Target’s admission that the City engaged in spot re-zoning of this specific parcel for this specific design. 

The Vogel Brief Resorts to Legal Gibberish 

When words lose their meaning and re-zoning one spot is notre-zoning one spot, weenter into an Alice in Wonderland mentality. 

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’ 

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ 

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master—that’s all.’”(Alice Through the Looking Glass, p 364) 

The meaning of all this litigation boils down to this: Garcetti demanded the illegal Target store be built and then insisted on spot re-zoning. Had Garcetti let Target build the store that it and the neighbors wanted back in 2008, Hollywood would have its Target store.


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.