City of Redondo Beach Ordered to Decertify Waterfront Project EIR and Set Aside Project Entitlements

Angel Law is pleased to announce a successful outcome for its client Building a Better Redondo in California Environmental Quality Act enforcement litigation challenging environmental information disclosure omissions in the City of Redondo Beach’s environmental impact report for the controversial Waterfront Project at King Harbor. The project proposes an upscale RDE (retail, dining & entertainment) center on 36 acres of city-owned land and tidelands, to the detriment of lower cost coastal access and water-oriented recreational uses. It includes, among other things, a four-star 120-room boutique hotel with spa and rooftop pool (the fifth high-cost hotel in the harbor), a 650-seat specialty cinema with reserved seating and full-service restaurant, office buildings, and an upscale groceries market – uses neither affordable to many residents and visitors, nor dependent on a location adjacent to the ocean to be able to function.

To accommodate a new proposed road and retail uses, the developer proposes to eliminate Seaside Lagoon Regional Park’s popular enclosed and chlorinated saltwater swim feature, described as “a haven for kids and families,” and “replace” it with a narrow beach on the polluted harbor waters by removing a rock revetment that now separates the lagoon from the main harbor channel.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant ruled that the EIR:

  • Failed to disclose and assess the adverse water quality impacts and public health hazards of exposing swimmers at Seaside Lagoon to the polluted harbor waters.
  • Violated basic CEQA protections of citizen input in project site planning and design when, after circulating the draft EIR, it changed the site of a boat ramp (required by the city’s local coastal program) from Mole C to Mole B, thus avoiding final EIR responses to public comments on the new boat ramp location.
  • Failed to disclose the adverse impacts of the proposed hotel on southern ocean views from Czuleger Park.
  • Skirted analysis whether the project complies with the applicable local coastal program’s prohibition of obstruction of public views from the park’s lower end.

The court ordered the city to set aside its certification of the final EIR and approval of entitlements for the project and cure the EIR’s information disclosure shortfalls. The court took the additional step of enjoining the city and the developer, CenterCal Properties LLC, from further action to pursue the project until they comply with CEQA.

“When you add this court decision to the Measure C victory in March 2017, which demonstrated that the majority of Redondo voters oppose the bloated project design and dangerous boat ramp, it feels good,” said Jim Light, President of Building a Better Redondo. “The 2017 Coastal Commission findings accepting our appeals from the city-approved coastal development permits for the project and now the court verdict make you wonder why the City processes failed us so badly. I want to thank the people of Redondo who have supported us throughout, and Frank Angel and Ellis Raskin for their superb legal representation.”

Frank Angel, BBR’s lead counsel, commented: “The court agreed with us that the Waterfront Project EIR is substantially defective as a public information disclosure document, not the least by concealing unacceptable public health effects caused by CenterCal’s outrageous plan to close the chlorinated Seaside Lagoon swim facility, and redirect tens of thousands of annual visitors to harbor waters that collect untreated stormwater runoff and nonpoint source pollution from boating and additional contributions to pathogenic bacteria from the harbor seal population. We are grateful for the attention and care Judge Chalfant, a highly respected writs judge, devoted to deciding our case.”

“This court victory is the culmination of a hard-fought legal battle — one we carried on the shoulders of citizens with an extraordinary sense of commitment to King Harbor and keen understanding of what the harbor represents for the people of the South Bay and of less privileged inland communities, who all deeply care about access to lower cost and healthy, water-oriented recreational uses,” Angel added.