Another report of STACK's Cornerstone legal victory!!
Great coverage in the San Fernando Valley Business Journal
Cornerstone doesn’t measure up, judge says
Project halted pending further environmental review
June 06, 2018
Read the article here:
UPDATE from our friend, Steve Hess. STACK has prevailed in their suit against the City of Agoura Hills and Cornerstone's developer!
May 25, 2018
FROM STACK's Facebook page on May 30, 2018
***** WE WON !!! *****
While you all have been expecting this, it is official. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel has issued her final ruling in favor of STACK and California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and directed the City of Agoura Hills to set aside all land use approvals for Cornerstone and furthermore requiring the developer to complete a modern and detailed Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which is all we were asking the City to do in the first place!
So what does this mean?
It means that the Judge ruled against the City & developer & the approvals which the City gave the developer are invalid.
If the developer wishes to continue with the project, the developer must produce a critical planning document called an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). An EIR clearly identifies valuable resources on the property, how the proposed development will impact (or in this case destroy) them AND any excessive external impacts to the community like traffic, water, noise, light, etc. Only after the EIR has gone through a legal public review process where we will all comment, may the City then (re)consider approval of the proposed development. We will be engaged through the entire process.
Can the City or the developer appeal?
Yes. The City and the developer may choose to file an appeal in which case we will fight that in court.
But for now, we can put one in the win column.
You may read the entire ruling here:
UPDATE from our friend, Steve Hess, of STACK
on the Cornerstone Project Hearing, March 13, 2018
GIVE ROUND ONE TO STACK & CNPS!
A very promising day in court today for STACK supporters and our partners CNPS (Calif Native Plant Society).
Our legal team did a brilliant job arguing the facts of the case in front of Judge Strobel who clearly agreed with us on two of the three important topics of today's hearing, Tribal and Cultural Natural Resources (a big deal) and Attorney General Notification (legal wrangling); today’s third issue, water quality/hydrology, was a draw in our opinion.
The final May 22 hearing will continue with native species, air quality and more.
No formal ruling was issued today. A formal ruling from the court will be issued after May 22nd.
Today’s outcome validates that a community can come together and make a difference.
For those of you seeking more details, Judge Strobel’s preliminary ruling (for today) is available here.
From Surfside news, Malibu March 10, 2018
Lawsuit over Agoura Project en Route to Court
Shown is the proposed site of the Cornerstone project, which was approved last March and is now the subject of a lawsuit. Suzanne Guldimann/22nd Century Media
It’s been described as an ecological disaster, but it is also the flashpoint for a new grassroots movement. The 217,000-square-foot Cornerstone development on the corner of Cornell Road and Agoura Road in Agoura Hills has generated a groundswell of opposition and outrage.
Opponents say the development, which consists of seven mixed-use buildings intended for retail, food service, offices, residential units, and 100,000 square feet of parking, will have a major impact on Kanan Dume Road traffic, viewsheds, neighborhood character, and the environment.
The project was approved by the Agoura Hills City Council last March on a 3-2 vote. It is headed to court on March 13. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Save the Agoura Cornell Knoll, also known as STACK, and the California Native Plant Society. The two nonprofit organizations are arguing that the Agoura Hills City Council failed to meet California Environmental Quality Act requirements when it issued a mitigated negative declaration instead of requiring a full environmental impact report for the project.
The complaint alleges that the City of Agoura Hills failed to adequately address many key environmental elements required by CEQA, including the Agoura Hills dudleya, a federally threatened species, and nine other special or protected plants that grow on the property; failure to consult with tribal representatives over a documented Chumash cultural heritage site on the property; and traffic, water quality, aesthetics, trails and wildlife corridors. The complaint also states that the mitigation measures that are included are vague, deferred, unenforceable or ineffective.
The project’s opponents say the project also violates the Agoura Hills’ land use and zoning plans, which have special provisions to protect oaks, ridge lines, rocky outcroppings, and other environmental resources.
Former longtime Malibu resident Judith Stein moved to the Cornell neighborhood because it was rural and there was room for her five horses and miles of nearby open space and trails, including the National Park Service’s Paramount Ranch. Stein told the Malibu Surfside News that she wants Malibu residents to know about the Cornerstone project because of its potential impact on traffic and safety.
An estimated 5,700 truck trips will be required to remove 92,500 cubic yards of rock and earth to facilitate construction of the development, according to City documents. The City estimated that the completed development will generate 20,000 additional vehicle trips a day.
“You know what the traffic is already like on Kanan,” Stein said. “The roads aren’t big enough for people to get out right now. This project is going to make it worse. What if you have an emergency and need to get to the Las Robles Hospital — that’s the closest hospital to Malibu for many people. What if there’s a fire?” Stein described her experiences with the 1978 and 1993 Topanga and Malibu fires, and the challenges of evacuating people and animals. She said was able to get her dogs and her neighbor’s baby out in the 1993 fire that burned the Las Flores neighborhood where she lived, but lost many of her most important possessions because the fire moved too fast. “We need to be able to get our animals out in an emergency,” Stein said. “We need to get people out and firefighters in. This is a life and death situation.”
Stein expressed frustration that her neighborhood has been left out of the discussion.
Although the development is on Cornell Road, it’s on the Agoura Hills side, while Stein and her neighbors live in unincorporated Los Angeles County. She said they don’t have a voice in the City’s decisions, despite the fact the development will impact them directly.
STACK leader Steve Hess is also a Cornell resident and one of Stein’s neighbors. His organization has supporters from communities all over the Santa Monica Mountains, as well as within the City of Agoura.
“We are a group of friends and neighbors who got together to speak up,” he said. Hess said STACK and the California Native Plant Society are asking the judge to set aside the mitigated negative declaration and require the City to do a full environmental impact report.
“They did not adequately study the project’s full impact,” he said. “They are trying to use a 10-year-old planning EIR for a different project with twice the [environmental] impact.”
“What Steve and STACK are doing is very important,” Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation President Kim Lamorie told the Surfside News. Lamorie said her organization fully supports STACK’s mission.
A new organization called Protectors and Residents in the Santa Monica Mountains is also joining the fight.
On the PRISMM Facebook page, activist and member Carlos Lluchs calls the Cornerstone project a “traffic nightmare,” one that will impact not just Agoura Hills, but all neighboring communities.
“We would love to have our Malibu neighbors take part,” Hess told the Surfside News. “This project impacts all of us.”
To learn more about the lawsuit, visit aenv.org/cornerstone.
For information on STACK, visit www.gofundme.com/HelpSTACK.