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Homeowners Emergency Life Protection Comm. v. Lynn

Citation: 5 ELR 20195
No. No. CV-74-2917-AAH, 388 F. Supp. 971/7 ERC 1416/(C.D. Cal., 12/30/1974)

The court refuses to enjoin construction of a $45 million dam and reservoir pending completion of a NEPA impact statement, finding that neither the application by the City of Los Angeles for federal reimbursement funds nor the City's "meticulous attention to Federal requirements" has made the project a major federal action. Although the court acknowledges that the Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey have been involved with the project since the 1971 earthquake which damaged the original facilities, and that at the recommendation of those federal agencies the project was modified to meet federal requirements, the court nevertheless concludes that construction by the City would not amount to a major federal action until the federal funding agency grants final funding approval. In addition, the court is unable to find the irreparable injury which is required before the requested equitable relief can be granted, and notes as equities in favor of defendants the fact that the City has completed an Impact Report pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, and that, because of inflation, any delay would increase the costs of theproject. As a final basis for its decision the court applies retroactively an amendment to the funding agency's organic charter which exempts certain restoration projects from being "major federal actions," and holds that the present project accordingly is exempt. (The funding agency, however, disagrees with this part of the opinion, and is continuing its preparation of the NEPA impact statement. Ed. Note). An application for an injunction pending appeal of this decision was denied by the district court November 18, 1974, by the Ninth Circuit December 6, 1974, and by the Supreme Court January 23, 1975.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Durwood J. Zaelke
Frederic P. Sutherland
Center for Law in the Public Interest
10203 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, Cal. 90067

Counsel for Defendants
William D. Keller U.S. Attorney
Huston T. Carlyle, Jr. Asst. U.S. Attorney
1100 U.S. Courthouse
312 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, Cal. 90012

Kenneth W. Downey Asst. City Attorney
P.O. Box 111
111 N. Hope Street
Los Angeles, Cal. 90051