Welcome and thank you for supporting community efforts to protect the undeveloped hills in ‘Ochuunga (Ostuungna)/ El Sereno (Los Angeles)!
What is going on?
South Pasadena has illegally green-lighted the demolition of a hillside on the border of South Pasadena and El Sereno to construct seven luxury single-family homes and a private street. The project, aka the "Moffatt St Extension " is being illegally piecemealed to avoid an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). It puts our neighborhood and protected species at risk.
This hillside is home to a wide array of wildlife and native plant species including the threatened and protected Southern California Black Walnut (Juglans Californica) .
Residents of Los Angeles will suffer the impact of construction and gentrification in the middle of today's LA housing crisis.
Your donations will go directly to Coyotl + Macehualli , a newly formed 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, to help cover costs for the lawsuit that is already underway. All donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
What is the goal here?
Stop construction and leave the hill and our neighborhood intact. We do not want to see anymore of the rare Southern California Black Walnut trees illegally cut down such as the one pictured below. This 3ft wide Black Walnut stump sits right in the middle of the proposed private street.
Photo by Robert Hamilton, Hamilton Biological Inc. 2021
With the guidance of the native Tongva people, we want to conserve the land as open space and restore it to a thriving native habitat that provides a home for local and migratory species, beautifies our neighborhood, and improves the air quality for all.
What makes this project approval illegal?
This project does not qualify for an exemption from Environmental Review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). However, the developer is claiming two exemptions from CEQA — a Class 3 and a Class 32 exemption.
Under Class 3: South Pasadena claims the project under CEQA is only the construction of a private street. Separating the street approval from the housing development without recognizing the impacts of the housing development (the sole purpose of the street’s construction) is project piecemealing and illegal under CEQA.
After realizing their defense against our initial lawsuit was weak, South Pasadena withdrew their project approval in order to have a rehearing (April 20th, 2021) and added the Class 32 exemption.
Under Class 32: Currently claims that the proposed housing development in Los Angeles is also exempt from CEQA. This exemption is being justified by using the developer's inaccurate and inadequate biological survey done by MIG . The survey reports that there are no threatened or special status plants or wildlife present on the hill.
An independently contracted biological survey that we provided from a Southern California expert, Robert A. Hamilton, strongly disproves South Pasadena’s survey. This independent survey provides photographic evidence of the multiple SoCal Black Walnut and a tree map. South Pasadena has continued to deny the existence of the mature Southern California Black Walnut Trees which are threatened and protected under CEQA.
Why is South Pasadena fighting so hard for a Los Angeles housing project?
We have learned that the City of South Pasadena is NOT interested in:
*Complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
*Protecting threatened and native plant species (despite being part of Tree City USA)
*Protecting wildlife and biodiversity
*Fire safety on hillsides
*Combating climate change
*Increased traffic and pollution in El Sereno
*Listening to the input of their own residents who have opposed this project in all of its forms
*Remedying their historically racist policy against El Sereno
THE ONLY THING SOUTH PASADENA IS INTERESTED IN IS NOT GETTING SUED BY A DEVELOPER — Planet Home Living.
How can South Pasadena be making decisions for Los Angeles?
South Pasadena is able to make decisions for Los Angeles because it has chosen to take the role of CEQA Lead Agency.
South Pasadena is approving deep excavation and heavy grading of the hillside plus construction of a private street within South Pasadena city boundaries. The private street’s sole purpose is to provide access to landlocked parcels within the city of Los Angeles so that these parcels could be developed on. Los Angeles was not consulted and has not reviewed whether a street connection to this currently un-developable open space is appropriate.
They cannot claim that the development project in Los Angeles is exempt from CEQA for numerous reasons including the following:
*South Pasadena is acting as CEQA Lead Agency over the entirety of the project
*The required analysis on the environmental impact to the land in Los Angeles in order to claim the class-32 exemption has NOT been provided. This would include conducting a biological survey, traffic study, noise and air quality study on Los Angeles land.
*If the street is approved, it essentially green-lights the project getting the building permits needed for the luxury houses in Los Angeles
*The original plans of the private street had it connecting directly to a South Pasadena public street. SP had the developer change their design to connect to a very narrow public street in Los Angeles. They conditioned their approval so that all traffic, construction and haul routes were redirected through Los Angeles and not their city, exposing LA residents to high levels of pollution, increased noise & ongoing traffic congestion, and respiratory problems during a global pandemic. This is environmental racism.
Why should we protect this relatively small, open urban space?
*This land is an open space wildlife corridor which provides a safe passageway for wildlife to the designated city open space area, Elephant Hill. See figure below:
*Urban open spaces in LA are vanishing rapidly and we need to preserve and regenerate these spaces. We need to send a message to our policy and decision makers that our community will not stand for more luxury housing development on unstable hillsides.
*Luxury housing projects like these are out of touch and counterproductive. The median income of El Sereno residents is $45,866, but these homes would be listed for $1.5m+.
Your donations towards our community fight will make a huge difference for our rapidly changing landscape! Thank you for your generous support!