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Appeals Court Further Delays Parking Structure Demolition
By Jorge Casuso
February 9, 2022 -- A Court of Appeals on Wednesday issued a stay halting the demolition of Parking Structure 3 while it decides whether to take up the case filed by a group of Downtown property owners.
The three-judge panel gave the City until Friday, February 25, to file a preliminary opposition to the stay, which could pave the way for a hearing.
The decision comes fives days after LA County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L Beckloff issued a short stay of his order to dismiss on a technicality the lawsuit filed by the Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association's (SMBOA) seeking to halt the demolition.
"Pending disposition of the instant petition or further order of this court, enforcement of the superior court’s judgment and dissolution of its preliminary injunction are stayed." read the Appeal Court's ruling issued Wednesday.
After the City files its opposition, the Court will either decide to take up the case and set up a briefing schedule or remove the stay, freeing the City to begin demolition next month.
The recent series of court rulings have effectively delayed the City's original plan to potentially begin tearing down the structure on January 3 to pave the way for a housing development targeting the homeless.
The week before Christmas, Judge Beckloff granted SMBOA's request for a temporary restraining order that stopped the City from beginning to tear down the structure ("Judge Temporarily Halts Parking Structure Demolition," December 22, 2021).
Then, on January 13 -- two days after the City Council chose to enter negotiations with an affordable housing developer -- the demolition plan was again put on hold ("Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Halting Parking Structure Demolition," January 13, 2022).
In his decision to grant the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, Beckloff called SMBOA's dispute "somewhat confused."
However, he added that the plaintiff "has sufficiently demonstrated the City considered (as an environmental matter) the demolition of PS 3 only in the context of rebuilding" and not demolishing it "without its reconstruction."
Two weeks later, the Beckloff dealt a major blow to the plaintiffs when he granted the City's motion to dismiss the case because the SMBOA had failed to meet a filing deadline ("Judge Issues Tentative Ruling Tossing Parking Structure Lawsuit," January 28, 20022).
Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a petitioner "shall request a hearing within 90 days from the date of filing the petition or shall be subject to dismissal,” Beckloff noted.
The Bayside Owners Association missed the deadline by 22 days, said Beckloff, who added that the evidence used to explain the missed deadline was "entirely inadequate."
On February 2, the City announced it would begin tearing down the structure built in 1966 on Valentine's Day ("Demolition of Parking Structure 3 to Start This Month," February 2, 2022).
That stay was granted today, halting the demolition the City planned to begin on Tuesday.
Shortly after the decision, the City issued the following statement:
"The Los Angeles County Court of Appeals has issued a stay to the demolition of Parking Structure 3, pending resolution of the Petitioner’s writ of supersedeas, challenging the trial court’s dismissal of the Petition.
"While the stay is in effect, Parking Structure 3 will not be demolished. It will be secured with fencing and closed to the public on February 10, 2022."
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