It’s forward marsh

Appeals court upholds Playa Vista construction

Developers of Playa Vista, DreamWorks’ proposed new home, have won another legal round and this time it could result in a knockout.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to overturn a lower court’s ruling allowing construction of a freshwater marsh on the site near Marina del Rey.

Opponents had sought to stop the work, part of a wetlands restoration project, on the grounds that it violates the Endangered Species Act.

The federal court’s action lets stand an earlier ruling by federal Judge Ronald Lew that allowed construction on the marsh west of the proposed development. The decision comes three weeks after the 9th Circuit ruled for the developers, Playa Capital, in a separate case filed under the National Environmental Protection Act and the Clean Water Act.

A statement released by Playa Capital late Tuesday said opponents have just one last recourse for their latest legal claim — the U.S. Supreme Court. “I seriously doubt that the justices will take the time to review a case that has support of the lower courts,” said Robert Crockett, an attorney for Playa Vista. “We are reaching the end of this long, legal tunnel.”

Opponents of the development have attempted to stop construction of the freshwater marsh through numerous court challenges. To date, none has succeeded.

Nonetheless, members of Wetlands Action Network and other opponents will continue their battle, executive director Marcia Hanscom wrote in a letter to Daily Variety.

Hanscom said that the project would have “tremendous impact” on the surrounding area, including what estimated as a 28% increase in traffic on the San Diego Freeway and increased air pollution. She also noted animals were being displaced by the project.

Playa Capital also announced this week the appointment of David A. Herbst as vice president of corporate affairs.

Herbst joins Playa Vista from Mercury Air Group, where he was director of corporate relations. His responsibilities will include Playa Vista’s public affairs efforts, including community and media relations.

In addition, Lisa Weil has taken on the new title of environmental affairs director. Weil, who joined Playa Vista in 1996 as a liaison to the environmental community and as a media spokeswoman, will coordinate environmental issues full time.

As part of the residential, commercial and industrial development, an entertainment, media and technology district is planned for the site of the former Hughes Aircraft factory. DreamWorks is negotiating for a lease or purchase of part of the district, although no deal has been made.