Redondo Beach and Torrance have quietly reached an agreement to dismiss a lawsuit filed after Nordstrom announced it would move from the South Bay Galleria to Torrance's Del Amo Fashion Center.
The move was made possible when Torrance signed off on an over-the-counter minor modification permit that allowed the owners of Del Amo to build the retailer a new custom store without any public input or review.
At the same time, city officials had publicly touted the Nordstrom move to the two-story, 138,000-square-foot store as part of a "major" mall renovation.
Redondo Beach responded with a lawsuit late last year accusing the neighboring, larger city of skirting state environmental law. Redondo Beach officials feared the mall project was being piecemealed out to avoid regulatory scrutiny, with the Nordstrom project merely being one of the first phases.
But on Tuesday, the city councils of both communities signed off on a tentative settlement that requires Del Amo mall owner Simon Property Group to give Redondo Beach adequate notice of redevelopment plans at the mall. The language of the settlement agreement was still being finalized Wednesday, Redondo Beach City Attorney Michael Webb said.
Redondo Beach claims expanding the Hawthorne Boulevard mall could subject that city to additional traffic and other environmental effects it wants studied.
"It ensures Torrance is going to comply with (state environmental law)," Webb said. "Simon has to give us additional notice within the next five years of any additional development at the mall, which would allow us to provide input on any planned activities, which we think is missing from this minor modification permit they did without any public notice."
Webb noted that Torrance's administrative approval of the permit merely required the city to file the information with the county. Anyone planning to appeal a permit - had they known about something neither the county nor Torrance publicly announced - would have had just 15 days to do so, Webb said.
Torrance had also accused Redondo Beach of improperly filing the lawsuit by violating the state meeting law and the settlement resolves that technical issue.
Torrance officials have previously acknowledged a major overhaul of the mall's outdated south end would require environmental review.
Torrance City Attorney John Fellows did not respond to repeated requests for comment Wednesday.
Torrance Councilman Tom Brewer noted Wednesday that no money would change hands between the malls or cities as a result of the settlement agreement.
Nordstrom intends to move once its lease expires at the Galleria in 2015.
Del Amo will renovate the mall's food court beginning this spring and also begin renovations at the north end of the structure.