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D’Works studio plan hit by activists suit

Public interest groups unite in attempt to bar wetland development

Several public-interest groups have joined to file a lawsuit against DreamWorks claiming the studio is violating state and federal laws in the construction of its proposed Playa Vista studio.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by the California Public Interest Research Group, Southwest Center for Biological Diversity and Wetlands Action Network, named as defendants DreamWorks’ new real estate arms, SKG Playa and Studio Land Co., along with Playa Capital.

The lawsuit asserts the studio received preferential treatment from the city and seeks to stop the development of the project and all construction. It also wants the court to order the studio to pay restitution for damages.

“DreamWorks and Playa Capital think they deserve special treatment, as evidenced by the $35 million in subsidies the city of Los Angeles is offering them this week to relocate in Los Angeles,” said Wendy Wendlandt, state political director of CalPIRG. “This lawsuit will ensure that they are not treated any differently than other businesses.”

One of the “unfair” practices detailed in the complaint and injunction brief is the attempt by developers to skirt the Endangered Species Act by bulldozing a willow grove that was home to Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, an endangered species of songbird.

“We have not yet seen the complaint. But it sounds like quite a stretch,” said DreamWorks spokesman Andy Spahn.