Subject: City of LA Acquires Elephant Hill property as part of settlement

On Tuesday, November 3, 2009, the Los Angeles City Council voted to settle a lawsuit filed by developer Monterey Hills Investors (MHI) in 2007 after being required to undertake additional environmental review of a controversial development of 24 luxury homes on Elephant Hill in El Sereno. As part of the settlement, the City agreed to pay MHI $9 million to acquire approximately 20 acres of hillside open space.

This is a huge victory for the residents of El Sereno and the coalition of community and environmental organizations that waged a long and hard fought struggle. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Councilmember Jose Huizar for his steadfast leadership as he championing residents’ public safety and environmental concerns related to this development.

The residents of El Sereno have been afforded the environmental protections that are rightfully theirs. We are thrilled that this poorly planned project is not moving forward and environmental justice has prevailed!

Councilmember Huizar will be holding press conference on this victory at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 4th at the foot of Elephant Hill (near the intersection of Pullman and Harriman Ave., off of Collis Avenue). Please attend.

Additional thanks are in order – first to the hundreds of residents and allies who took action to demand equal environmental protections for our community. To Doug Carstens of Chatten-Brown & Carstens and Tim Grabiel and David Pettit of NRDC for their exceptional, pro-bono legal services. To the board of the Latino Urban Forum and the four residents who intervened in the lawsuit filed by the developer against the City: Hugo Garcia, Casey Reagan, Geneece Perez and Vanessa Yanez. To the more than 60 leaders of environmental, community-based and EJ organizations that lent their good names to our efforts during the 10 month legislative phase of this campaign in 2007. To the LA-32 Neighborhood Council that took an early stand against this development in 2004. To Martin Krammerer, PhD, for his awesome hydrological study. To the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for its technical expertise. And, last--but certainly not least—to the entire City Council that voted not once, but two times to require additional environmental review on this flawed project and again today to acquire this property.

Please stay tuned for more details on the settlement as they emerge. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!