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Citizens for Open Government’s Lawsuit Against Montebello Hills Housing Project Will Proceed

By Brian Hews

Residents opposing the controversial Montebello Hills housing development have been advised that their lawsuit against the City of Montebello can proceed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit was filed by Montebello based Citizens for Open Government (COPS) in July and maintains that the City of Montebello failed to adequately review and address air quality, traffic, water quality and biological concerns. The lawsuit also accuses the Montebello City Council of Brown Act violations. The matter has been continued until December 2015 for further proceedings.

Led by Montebello Mayor Jack Hadjinian, Vice Mayor Art Barajas, Councilmembers Christina Cortez and Vivian Romero, the decision to approve the unpopular mega housing project on an active oil drilling site faces growing backlash. Many residents believe they should be allowed to vote on a project of this magnitude. Resident Janet Garcia states that she is outraged that the Montebello City Council and the City of Montebello only minimally engaged the Montebello community and their input on a project that she sees as harmful to the health of her two young children who attend La Merced Elementary school.

Other residents are displeased that they could not attend either of the hearings that were held on weeknight evenings only at the Quiet Cannon and wonder why there were not more hearings at more convenient locations, which would have included Saturdays, or online viewing. Some residents like Martha Gomez think it’s time to consider “district voting,” which would elect Council members by geographic districts in Montebello and would better reflect each district’s concerns at the council level.

Two members of the City Council who voted to approve the controversial project, Jack Hadjinian and Christina Cortez, are seeking reelection this November 3. One candidate for Montebello City Council says, ‘’The #1 issue Montebello voters are asking about is the Hills Development. They don’t want it.”

In addition to legal opposition from residents, the unpopular housing development is facing additional challenges brought upon by the “Lincoln Fire” in August that burned 45 acres of active oil fields including a section of the California gnat catcher reserve that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has required be created and functioning before any construction can begin.

  • Belinda says:

    Nice way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the “Voting Rights Act of 1965!”
    Someone please tell these knuckleheads about this important piece of legislation signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

    These knuckleheaded anti democracy council members have said you do not deserve to vote:
    Christina Cortez
    Jack Hadjinian
    Art Barajas
    Vivian Romero

    Summary: A majority Latino city council is denying the voters in an overwhelming Latino district the RIGHT to vote. Shameful!!!

  • Defender of Nature says:

    Sad to say that the habitat is compromised by the fire and that the lack of concern for the health and safety of residents was so apparent in the vote of the city council to approve the Plateau Feo Project. The law suit shows that just because some elected officials choose to represent a corporation which gives them money and publicity, the real people, the voters, still have some way of defending our future and also that of the innocent beings which inhabit the Hills. (Which by the way are not ‘…being created…” by Lod Cook et al… the Great Spirit et al seems to have emphasized who is really in charge. Here is an applicable Haiku:
    Nature Preserve
    Not Reservation
    Gnatcatchers can’t build casinos!!!!!