Coalition to Preserve LA Slams Sacramento’s Efforts to Ruin CEQA — a Disaster for Children

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Coalition to Preserve LA stands with key environmental groups and
attorneys in condemning multiple attacks on CEQA in Sacramento this
week, where Gov. Jerry Brown seeks to wipe out environmental protections
for most urban housing if developers agree to include a handful of
affordable units, and the state legislature is simultaneously attacking
CEQA by letting mega-developments get “fast-tracked” in the courts — to
give communities less time to fight violations of the law.

We stand
with the Sierra Club
and top environmental attorneys, urging those
who believe developers are the last ones who should decide on our health
and neighborhood livability, to tweet and call Gov. Brown immediately
regarding Trailer Bill 707 and mega-development fast-tracking Senate
Bill 734. Brown’s twitter: @JerryBrownGov. His phone: (916) 445-2841.

Trailer Bill 707 is clearly aimed at five lucrative prizes for greedy
developers: L.A., the OC, Inland Empire, Bay Area and San Diego. It
hands undue power to developers in “urban areas” who won’t hesitate to
place thousands of children in harm’s way next to toxic freeways, even
as they create street gridlock and destroy neighborhood character.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 734 is a sneaky move to extend AB 900, a
temporary law created in 2011 in response to California’s then-12%
unemployment rate, to let controversial mega-projects muscle through the
court system in record time. Now that California’s unemployment rate has
plunged, typically greedy developers want the same perks as before,
giving communities far less time to mount CEQA legal challenges against
inappropriate, neighborhood-destroying developments. One such project is
8150 Sunset, the outsized Frank Gehry-designed towers that will gridlock
already-jammed Laurel Canyon and endanger residents around Sunset
Boulevard by hindering firefighter response times.

CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, is under unprecedented
attack by developers aiming to weaken the most powerful law protecting
our communities and environment. The Coalition
to Preserve LA is sponsoring the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on
the March 2017 Los Angeles ballot
to end developer control over what
L.A. becomes.

Howard Penn, executive director of the influential Planning and
Conservation League in Sacramento, said of SB 734 written for
mega-developers, “We were tracking more than 30 legislative bills to
weaken CEQA this year. None were for strengthening it. As I work with
stakeholders to come to a gentle kind of understanding that CEQA needs
adjustments, the long and short of it is that Gov. Brown is outright
opposed to CEQA … so we are getting more attacks from the opponents of
CEQA and they are endless, relentless and continuous.”

Respected environmental lawyer Robert P. Silverstein says Brown’s
Trailer Bill 707 budget maneuver, meanwhile, “is a Trojan horse that
claims to create affordable housing, but is really just a
multi-billion-dollar giveaway to developers. Under this plan, developers
could do 95% luxury housing, with a meager 5% being ‘affordable.’ In
return, they would avoid local government and public oversight and could
sidestep all the protections of our current environmental laws. This
would lead to even more violations of the public’s rights, and further
catastrophic impacts on our environment.”

Attorney Sabrina Venskus, who fought to save the Ballona Wetlands and is
suing the city of Los Angeles for helping developers illegally overrun
Venice, said: “The Governor seems to have a small group of special
interests called the development lobby that he is listening to, rather
than regular citizens. … The answer to our problems is to limit the
influence of big moneyed-special interests such as the development and
construction lobbies.”

The Coalition to Preserve LA this year revealed that L.A. Mayor Eric
Garcetti and the City Council are encouraging developers to erect
housing for children near freeways. These
developments have been dubbed Black Lung Lofts
. Brown’s attempts
to detour around CEQA will hasten dangerous housing projects.

In USC’s watershed Children’s Health Study of 3,600 children, scientists
found that children living within 1,000 feet of freeways suffer chronic
lung damage. UCLA found a higher risk for premature babies. Experts say
this tainted housing cannot be “mitigated” with filters — unseen metal
and rubber bits still lodge in the lungs and brain.

In 2007, USC researchers urged Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Eric Garcetti
and the City Council to act. They were ignored. The
city has pushed for dozens of freeway-adjacent apartment buildings and
. In 2010, Councilman Tom LaBonge told LA Weekly, “It
would be great if we could call a time-out and try to plan better, but
it’s not practical

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, gathering signatures for the
March ballot, gives L.A. residents the power to “call a time-out” and
shape what L.A. becomes. We believe environmental review is crucial to
public safety, fighting gridlock and ending the destruction of
neighborhood character.

Please visit us at
Jill Stewart (916) 595 9033


The Coalition to Preserve LA
Jill Stewart
Campaign Director
Integrity Initiative