|(April 13, 2021, 9:35 a.m.) -- During an April 12 Zoomed meeting on the eve of an April 13 City Council hearing on their EIR/CEQA focused appeal, supporters of a park instead of RV parking/commercial facility at 3701 Pacific Place showed no discernible political strategy -- beyond flooding City Hall with emails, cards and letters -- to deal with City Councilmembers who'll decide the issue but signaled they are preparing to litigate an anticipated unfriendly Council outcome.
LBREPORT.com has learned that yesterday (April 12) attorney Doug Carstens (of the Chatten-Brown, Carstens & Minter law firm) submitted a 12 page letter to the City Clerk, City Manager, Mayor and all Councilmembers on behalf of the Riverpark Coalition, the River Project and LA Waterkeeper citing multiple legal grounds for requiring a full EIR (not a City Hall-proposed mitigated negative declaration) for the city staff supported project at 3701 Pacific Place. To view the letter, click here.
The full list of appellants on the Council hearing agenda item includes the Riverpark Coalition, along with Ann Cantrell and Anna Christensen representing the Sierra Club Los Cerritos Wetlands Task Force; Corliss Lee representing Citizens About Responsible Planning; Juan Ovalle representing the Riverpark Coalition; Renee Lawler representing the Historic Equestrian Trail Association of So Cal; and Robert Gill representing the Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association.
Several Zoom meting speakers complained about a 20-person limit on telephoned Council public testimony speakers (a policy in effect for most of the COVID-19 pandemic.) A number of supporters indicated that when they sought to sign to speak, they received the following City Clerk email: "Thank you for your request to the speak at the April 13, 2021 City Council Meeting. You were not among the first 20 members of the community to sign-up for Agenda Item No. 8. Even though you were not among the first 20 to sign-up, you can still submit your comment via eComment or by email to email@example.com..."
As LBREPORT.com was first to report last week, supporters of the Mayor/City Mgm't position to use the Convention Center to house migrant minors swiftly filled available public spanker slots, leaving few and then no slots for others with different viewpoints. (One progressive speaker signed up quickly.)
Some Riverpark supporters blamed Mayor Garcia for manipulating the process (although there's no visible evidence of this on this hearing item); others said the artificial 20 person limit, set by the City Clerk citing digital technical grounds (although other government bodies allow more speakers) violates the Brown Act and lets partries manipulate public testimony. The policy-setting City Council (to whom the City Clerk ultimately answers) has never weighed in on the current practice, effectivly accepting it.
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Retired CD 8 Councilwoman (2004-2012) Rae Gabelich signaled she would run as a recall candidate to replace Austin if someone pursues a recall...but quickly cautioned that recalls are very difficult to accomplish. Austin won a third term in 2020 by exploiting Charter Amendment BBB which let Council incumbents and the Mayor avoid a write-in in seeking third terms. Charter Amendment BBB was the spark that launched LB's Reform Coalition which strongly opposed the measure and ran two candidates in the 2020 election cycle (Robert Fox, CD2 and Juan Ovalle in CD 8) Mr. Ovalle nearly made the November 2020 runoff (outpolled by roughly 130 votes by Austin); veteran community advocate Fox (who contributed $50,000 of his own money) made the runoff but was outspent by Mayor/Police Officers union-supported candidate Cindy Allen, who prevailed in a November 2020 runoff.
No one on the Zoom call articulated a strategy to deal with Council incumbents other than Austin (beyond inundating them with emails and the like); they have a co-equal vote with Austin on the 3701 Pacific Place parcel. As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, incumbents Zendejas, Price and Richardson have already filed paperwork to raise money for reelection in 2022. Zendejas and Richardson have, in other contexts, stressed the need for equity...but have not to date supported the Riverpark Coalition's stance which has repeatedly echoed equity in seeking to use the 3701 Pacific Place parcel to address park-poor conditions in pollution plagued WLB.
On April 5, city management webposted on its website a an "open space acquisition study" initially sought in early Feb. 2020 by Councilman Austin with Council support It cited the availability of an 11-acre parcel north of the 3701 Pacific Place project site (owned by government entities) for use as a park/open space and simultaneously the 3701 Pacific Place privately owned parcel is infeasible to pursue as a park site.
On April 7, Austin praised the City Hall report and disseminated it via his social network channel and mass emailing
City Hall's report and Austin's action prompted the Riverpark Coalition -- which in March 2021 released own study its own feasibility study contending the site IS feasible for park use -- to issue a blistering release charging that City Hall's report contains false and misleading statements, calling City Hall's report a "sham and cover-up" and said it "reveals itself as nothing more than a political weapon, a weapon against the activism of residents to save their river for parks and open space."
The Riverpark Coalition has listed some Sacramento and DC electeds (including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell, Congressman Alan Lowenthal, all Democrats) as supporting its position but that isn't quite true, Letters from these politicians have variously supported the Riverpark's goal of more river area park/green space BUT have all stopped short of supporting using 3701 Pacific Place to do so. No one on the Riverfront Park's Zoom meeting voiced a political strategy to deal with then,
The Riverpark Coalition's position on acquiring the property is supported by retired 8th district Councilwoman Rae Gabelich (2004-2012). But in letters to the Riverpark Coalition, LB area incumbents -- including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assemblyman Patrick O' Donnell, and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (all Democrats) -- have said that they support the group's general goals of more green and open space along the LA River but stop short of directly supporting a future park/open space for the 3701 Pacific Place parcel.
The Riverpark Coalition has publicly called on LB Mayor Robert Garcia (who has no vote but can veto Council actions subject to an override by six Councilmembers) to support a future park at 3701 Pacific Place. He has not done so.
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