(March 1, 2002, posted 3:30 p.m., updated 7:00 p.m.) -- Shady stands of trees in the northeast section of Scherer Park remain standing today as LB City Hall weighs its options in connection with its plan (OK'd by a Superior Court and not halted by a Court of Appeal) to expand a NLB police facility onto a roughly 2.5 acre footprint near the corner of Atlantic Ave. and Del Amo Blvd.
It wasn't a writ or a judge that gave the trees a temporary reprieve; it may be the birds...and a federal law.
The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act requires certification that no nesting migratory birds are in the trees, and each day after March 1 increases the likelihood there may be.
Project manager Amy Bodek told LBReport.com today City Hall is weighing its options on the best time to begin removing trees and commencing construction, but said she didn't expect a decision until next week.
Ms. Bodek acknowledged tree removal becomes more difficult in the period after March 1, but the nesting window is expected to close in roughly June or July. Ms. Bodek indicated an ornithologist retained by the city to examine the area for nesting birds had not been asked to do so as of today, and in any case such observations would only be valid for a few days.
Ms. Bodek noted City Hall is free to begin pre-construction activities now that do not involve bird impacting activities. She indicated a contract with a construction contractor would have to be presented to the City Council for its voted approval before construction could begin.
Ms. Bodek said such a contract would likely not be brought to the City Council until (rough estimate) the end of March.
[7:00 p.m. update] 8th district Councilman Rob Webb, who said cited constituent support for his votes supporting expansion of the NLB police facility at Scherer Park, told LBReport.com he had asked city staff to be sensitive to an upcoming Earth Day event being planned for April 21 by Scherer Park advocate and Stop Taking Our Parks president Gigi Fast Elk Bannister.
"I asked staff to, if possible, avoid removing the trees before the upcoming Earth Day event and I'm glad this can be done," Councilman Webb said.
Ms. Bannister told LBReport.com she appreciated the sensitivity being shown by Councilman Webb and Parks and Rec staff under the circumstances. However, she noted the Scherer Park trees remain endangered and, apart from her pending legal appeal (details below), City Hall still has to meet objections previously raised by the U.S. National Park Service in connection with the project.
As previously reported by LBReport.com the Nat'l Park Service has asked City Hall to provide a formal appraisal conducted to federal standards before the feds decide whether to grant approval for the construction project and "replacement" land (currently polluted) now slated for 55th Way. Federal involvement stems from City Hall's previous use of federal money at Scherer Park. [end 7:00 p.m. update]
A CA Court of Appeal recently denied a request by Stop Taking Our Parks (STOP) and CA Earth Corps for a stay (halt) in the project pending the park protection advocates' appeal of a lower court ruling OK'ing City Hall's expansion of the NLB police facility into Scherer Park.
In late January, a lower court (Superior Court) upheld City Hall's legal position across the board, sustaining city management's policies on Scherer Park, which were approved by the City Council (Grabinski dissenting). These include rezoning park area to institutional to accommodate the expanded NLB police facility, subject to creating new park land at a separate NLB site.
LBReport.com has posted the lower court ruling in full at: Superior Ct. writ ruling on Scherer Park.