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Update: Community Groups Sue City Over Autry Expansion

The lawsuit, filed at Los Angeles County Superior Court last week, cites alleged violations of environmental and zoning law.

Update: Community Groups Sue City Over Autry Expansion

Citing environmental and zoning law, the and the have sued the city of Los Angeles over their recent approval of the Autry National Center's planned expansion of its Griffith Park campus.

In a press release announcing the suit, Brigid Joyce of the law firm Otten & Joyce, who are representing the two groups, said, “The Autry project represents an attack on the City’s most fundamental zoning protections of the City’s first museum–a piece of important Los Angeles history at risk of completely unnecessary destruction at the hands of the Autry."

The "first museum" Joyce referred to was the The Autry National Center merged with the financially struggling Southwest Museum in 2002, in an agreement that community members hoped would lead to a revival of the historical location. However, the Autry has claimed that the Southwest Museum building , and has shifted the focus to expanding the Griffith Park campus.

The Los Angeles City Council approved the expansion plan on June 21, following a month of bitter debate between the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition and Autry leadership.

Click for a roundup of the expansion plan debate. 

Nicole Possert, of both the Highland Park Heritage Trust and the Friends of the Southwest Musuem Coalition, said the lawsuit was filed in an effort not only to prevent the Autry's expansion, but also to set a precedent that would protect the "integrity" of environmental and zoning laws.

"From the Highland Park Heritage Trust's perspective, we took issue with the process in terms of the integrity of State environemental law and city zoning law," Possert said. "It's our mission to uphold that."

Los Angeles City Council member Tom LaBonge (CD4), who sits on the arts, parks, health and aging committee, was one of the adamant supporters of the Autry plan.

"I have heard about the potential lawsuit.  But the City Attorney’s office has not yet been formally served with the lawsuit, so I can’t comment on its allegations," LaBonge said. "Still, I support one’s democratic right to challenge any City Council decision."

Patch has made calls to the Autry National Center and the City Attorney's office and is awaiting response. Keep checking Patch as we continue to follow this developing story.

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