A Court of Appeal has denied the request of three environmental groups for an emergency stay on plans to overhaul the Malibu Lagoon, which is expected to begin next week.
"Obviously, we're thrilled," said Suzanne Goode, Senior Resource Ecologist for the California State Parks, which is the lead agency on the project that is scheduled to begin June 1.
The First District Court of Appeal posted on its website late Thursday: "The petition is denied as appellants have not met that burden; specifically, they have not demonstrated that the appeal presents an exceptional situation presenting a substantial issue on appeal that, even facially, has merit."
The Wetlands Defense Fund, Access for All and CLEAN -- the three groups that on the project last year -- argue that the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Plan would be harmful to endangered, threatened and sensitive species that live in the lagoon.
They had sought a temporary stay until the groups' appeal of a lawsuit challenging the California Coastal Commission's decision to issue a permit for the project could be heard.
"The court has discarded caution by allowing bulldozers in the midst of an
ongoing, heated controversy. Rather than being carefully considered, our
environmental laws that protect existing wildlife and access trails are being
glossed over," said attorney James Birkelund, who represented the three groups.
In October, Judge Ernest H. Goldsmith , stating that the California Coastal Commission had analyzed all alternatives to the project and chose the "least damaging" option.
It appears the groups' appeal of that lawsuit continues to move forward despite the denial of the emergency stay. They have until July 12 to file an opening brief.
Marcia Hanscom of the Wetlands Defense Fund said that the fight will continue as the groups examine all legal options.
On Thursday, the court also granted the City of Malibu's request to file an amicus brief.
Proponents say the project will improve oxygen circulation and the general health of the lagoon. Opponents say it will harm the lagoon and that species will die. They object to the use of bulldozers, the removal of the bridges and other features.