and residential project's approval under the California Environmental
"For the past 18 months, the Galleria has been seeking the same
thing -- open streets, projects that work together, adequate parking
and connectivity, and a project that doesn't turn its back on its
neighbors," said Amy Forbes, an attorney representing General Growth.
"At this point, [a lawsuit] is the only thing that's left for us.
"That's why we have CEQA -- to have the court review the city's
actions. We believe that when a court reviews the city's actions,
they'll conclude this [environmental report] did not adequately
disclose impacts, apply mitigation and examine alternatives."
City officials and Rick Caruso, the developer of the proposed
15.5-acre project next to the Galleria, said they expected the
lawsuit and characterized it as an effort by General Growth to
"The only good thing I can say about General Growth is that
they're absolutely predictable," Caruso said. "That's about it. I'm
very confident that the [environmental report] is going to stand up.
It's all a bunch of cooked-up issues, and the court's going to see
right through that."
General Growth's petition, which names the city, the City Council,
the city's Redevelopment Agency, Director of Planning Elaine
Wilkerson and Director of Development Services Jeanne Armstrong,
alleges four major problems with the Americana's EIR, which examines
the project's effects on the community.
According to the lawsuit, the environmental review ignores
evidence that suggests old Fire Station 21 is a historic resource and
must be preserved, underestimates traffic generated by the project,
fails to acknowledge a discrepancy between the Americana's design and
a city prohibition of billboards and does not seriously consider
General Growth's proposed alternative project.
The lawsuit also alleges that the city's economic report on which
the Americana's approvals were based is inaccurate, and that the
Disposition and Development Agreement changes zoning law, requiring
unanimous approval by the City Council. The council approved the