Community Groups, LA Waterkeeper Seek EIR for Commercial Project Near River

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A coalition of community groups advocating for more park space in Long Beach have filed a legal action against the city to stop construction of a commercial project near the Los Angeles River until an adequate environmental review is conducted.

The Riverpark Coaltion and the nonprofit Los Angeles Waterkeeper, which promotes efforts that benefit the region's waterways, brought the petition Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, arguing that the City Council's April 13 approval of the Pacific Place Project based on a mitigated negative declaration in place of an environmental impact report was insufficient.

A representative for the Long Beach City Attorney's Office could not be immediately reached for comment.

Due to historical development trends that favored industry with high levels of pollution, western Long Beach has a severe lack of parks and open space, according to the petition, which states that the current project calls for the privately owned land on Pacific Place and to be developed by InSite Property Group with a mixed commercial use.

The development would encompass nearly 20 acres of open space along the Los Angeles River and would “significantly reduce any possible relief and recreational opportunities in the area, whereas currently the surrounding community would be able to use portions of this space and nearby areas for passive and active recreation,” according to the petition.

The project site is separated into two areas called the Artesia and MacDonald parcels, the petition states. The project on the Artesia parcels will transform a former golf driving range into a three-story, 152,745-square-foot self-storage unit, a recreational vehicle storage area for 578 vehicles and a self-serve car wash with a waste disposal station, the petition says.

The project on the MacDonald parcels would include a 77,000-square- foot single-story warehouse and a 10-truck loading dock, according to the petition.

“Heightening the potential for adverse environmental impacts, there are 13 abandoned oil wells in the project area, surrounded by land that formerly stored toxic waste and sewage that is now buried,” according to the petition.

The project's census tract in western Long Beach ranks worse than 85% of the rest of the state for pollution, which is attributable to contaminated sites, solid waste and hazardous vehicle emissions in the area, the petition alleges.

The area is mostly Latino and Asian, with 82% of the population being people of color, according to the petition, which says a high number of residents living in the vicinity have asthma.

“The proposed project not only exacerbates these critical health impacts, but brings in a land use that in no way serves this underserved community,” according to the petition.

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