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A lawsuit filed earlier this month aims to prevent the opening of a bridge housing facility in Griffith Park that would include a 10,800-square-foot tent and 100 beds for people experiencing homelessness.
The lawsuit filed by a group called Friends of Waverly claims the project, which is part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program that plans to put a bridge housing shelter in each of Los Angeles’s 15 City Council districts, was illegally approved.
Noel Weiss, the attorney representing Friends of Waverly, declined to comment when reached by email, but the lawsuit claims the facility, which is planned for a parking lot at 3210 and 3248 Riverside Drive, violates Griffith J. Griffith’s intention that the land he donated for Griffith Park be only used for parkland purposes.
In addition, the lawsuit claims the City Council’s renewal of its declaration of an emergency shelter crisis was improperly done. Without a valid crisis declaration in place, the lawsuit alleges, the City Council illegally bypassed the city’s Planning Commission and wrongly ruled the project exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.
“[The city of Los Angeles’s] failure to abide by its own procedural and substantive due process guarantees is both unlawful and a clear abuse of discretion,” the lawsuit said.
In a statement, Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, said it is “disappointing” that “there are still those trying to slow solutions down” in the face of the homelessness epidemic Los Angeles is facing.
The lawsuit shows that Friends of Waverly is at least partially backed by Victor Adjemian, who said in correspondence with Ryu that his home is “probably the closest” of any residence to the project site. Though Adjemian is opposed, Ryu, whose district includes the Griffith Park site, pointed out that multiple neighborhood groups backed the project.
“My office has worked to meet with every neighbor who has questions about this bridge home project, which has won the support of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, Los Feliz Improvement Association [and] Friends of Griffith Park, among others,” Ryu said.
Ryu spokesman Mark Pampanin said this isn’t the first time opponents of housing for people experiencing homelessness have used procedural grounds in an attempt to prevent the opening of a shelter.
“When it comes to the proposed bridge housing on Riverside Drive, this project has gone through the same processes as many other projects. We believe every I has been dotted and every T has been crossed, and we’re hopeful that a judge sees it the same way,” Pampanin said.
Ryu is also pushing for change on a state level regarding CEQA and homeless housing. On Jan. 14, Ryu introduced a resolution in support of Assembly Bill 1907, which would allow affordable and bridge housing for people experiencing homelessness to receive approval without undergoing CEQA review.
“I am a fierce defender of our environment, but CEQA has been routinely used to prop up lawsuits that do nothing to help the environment and only serve to slow life-saving homeless housing down. We need to cut through the red tape and deliver real solutions to this crisis,” Ryu said in a statement.
Pampanin added that work on the Griffith Park Bridge Housing Shelter Facility is expected to continue, and construction is expected to begin in February or March.
“We’re having discussions with the city attorneys’ office, but we’re fully confident in this project and continuing to move forward as usual until we hear otherwise,” Pampanin said.
Rob Wilcox, spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, said the city attorney’s office will review the complaint, and he declined to comment further.
The Griffith Park shelter and other A Bridge Home facilities will be open for three years. Pampanin said Ryu’s office is looking into how best to use that space once the three-year limit is reached, and a potential option is a senior center for aging Angelenos.
“We want to see this underutilized site become something of pride and use to the community at large,” Pampanin said.
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