Underground Gas Storage: City Councilman Nate Holden, Demands Playa Vista Indemnify City



Grassroots Coalition
11934 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Contact: Jeanette Vosburg
(310) 721-3512




LOS ANGELES, CA, June 13, 2001 — Following public protest concerning the recent report by Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) Ronald Deaton on health and safety issues at the Playa Vista Development site, Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden could barely conceal his skepticism as he grilled Deaton and his assistant, Gerry Miller.

In a sharply worded inquiry into the methane gas mitigation and alarm systems called for in the CLA report, Holden repeatedly interrupted the two city functionaries and demanded only "yes or no" answers.

Expressing concern about potential litigation should the city approve construction of thousands of condominiums, apartments and single-family dwellings over the Playa Vista methane gas seep, Holden forced Deaton and Miller to acknowledge that the gas mitigation techniques had not been used in this manner before.

"These mitigation systems are experimental," stated Patricia McPherson, president of the Grassroots Coalition. "And some of the membranes being used under the Fountain Park Apartments are known to have an 85 percent failure rate, while others are guaranteed for only two years," she added after the Council meeting.

The Fountain Park Apartments are the first residential units being constructed on the site.

Likening approval of Playa Vista to a recent situation where the city approved the construction of housing on a hillside that later collapsed, triggering expensive litigation, Holden introduced a resolution that would force the developers, Playa Capital, to hold the city blameless should the gas mitigation and alarm systems fail.

"I'm glad someone on the City Council had the courage to face reality," stated McPherson. "If these systems fail and residents of Playa Vista are killed or injured, the damages against the city could be staggering."

In a recent report by City Controller Rick Tuttle, he stated that for the first time in Los Angeles history, the city is facing potential liability of more than a billion dollars. This does not include any future Playa Vista damages.

The office of the City Attorney said it would craft the wording of Holden's resolution so that it could be voted on by the City Council. The Council is expected to vote Tuesday on the issuance of more than $100 million in Mello-Roos bonds, the proceeds of which will be used by Playa Capital to finance infrastructure at the development.

"This is just another example of this lame duck City Council rushing to beat the July 1st deadline when the new Council will take over," added McPherson. "They should not be in such a hurry to commit the City to something that will affect us for decades to come."





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