Story by Zoe Schlaak
Associate Sports Editor
Photo courtesy of Planet Home Living
The City Council unanimously reapproved the Moffatt Street extension project after a reconsideration of its previous approval at a special meeting on Tuesday, April 20, despite continued community opposition.
The extension was originally brought to the Council in October 2020, but due to resident disapproval, the project was continually delayed until a final approval at their meeting on Wednesday, Feb 17. The City called a special meeting to further discuss the project after ongoing public resistance and to address claims that the developer Planet Home Living’s December 2019 biological survey was inaccurate. The survey was not made publicly available.
Appellant of the Planning Commission’s approval of the Moffatt Street extension project, Micah Haserjian, presented the Council with information, asserting that the survey only analyzed the private street project site in South Pasadena, and not the acre of land within Los Angeles jurisdiction that the extension would also impact.
He also claimed that the report failed to evaluate traffic, air, noise, and water quality in the impact of the development and that Planet Home Living failed to account for all of the endangered Southern California Black Walnut trees in the area. That would mean that the development would not qualify for a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Class 32 exemption because there are detrimental environmental impacts.
The appellant also accused the City Council of violating the Brown Act, which states that cities need to provide public access to meetings of California local government agencies, after they limited the amount of public comments read during the Feb. 17 meeting.
Mayor Diana Mahmud clarified that the intent of limiting public comments read in the meeting was to prevent extremely long meetings and all unread comments were posted on the City’s website. Ultimately, the Council allowed all comments to be read, and a majority of them were from El Sereno and South Pasadena residents opposing the project.
“The residents of El Sereno are upset by this exploitative project as it does not serve the needs of our community and its detrimental to the environment, and safety of our community members,” El Sereno resident Cindy Gradia said. “South Pasadena continuously fails to consider public comment. It is clear and simple, we do not want this street extension.”
During Councilmember discussion, Mahmud consulted the developer’s lawyer, Steve Scheck, about what they would do if the City declined the project. Scheck confirmed that he would urge his client to sue the city.
The Council unanimously reapproved the extension after discussing and agreeing upon the accuracy of the developer’s findings. Councilmembers also reiterated that the City only controls building on the shared easement, while the City of Los Angeles has jurisdiction over the construction of the luxury homes; it has yet to approve the development of the lots.