Preserving Open Space and Protecting Communities
CEQA was successfully used to prevent the abuse of a project approval for a development project in East Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles granted approval to Monterey Hills Investors to develop on Elephant Hill in the 1980s. By 2003 the project size had grown so substantially that the City required the developer prepare a new EIR. The developer in turn filed suit contesting the requirement. Residents of the downhill community of El Sereno also fought the project due to fears of increased flood risks and landslides caused by the development. Previous projects on Elephant Hill had proven that the terrain is not stable enough to safely sustain development, most notably in 2006 when a sinkhole was created by workers installing a fence, and in 2009 when a worker was buried in a landslide. The City and the developer reached a settlement agreement that enabled the City to buy the property and transform it into a nature preserve, providing much-needed local open space and protecting the community of El Sereno.