Group Denied Environmental Impact Study of Mountain Bungee Jump Site

Bungee jumping man

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge Thursday denied a legal action brought by a citizens group against Los Angeles County over the longtime operation of bungee jumping on the "Bridge to Nowhere" across the East Fork of the San Gabriel River in mountains north of Azusa, in which the petitioners argued there was an inadequate environmental assessment.

Save the East Fork Association's Los Angeles Superior Court petition also named the Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning as defendants. The group sought a court order directing that a special waiver for the ongoing operation of the Bungee America project be vacated and withdrawn and that a proper environmental impact report with public input be prepared according to California Environmental Quality Act guidelines.

However, Judge Mary H. Strobel heard arguments Thursday and finalized her tentative ruling in which she found that the petition violated the statute of limitations.

"Here, (Save the East Fork Association) filed this action in July 2021," the judge wrote. "To the extent petitioner contends that the director's issuance of the ... waiver in July 2018 violated CEQA, this action is clearly time barred. Petitioner makes no argument to the contrary."

The Bungee America operation, located on a 50-acre privately owned site in the Angeles National Forest, has existed for about 30 years, the petition stated.

The project has "substantial impacts on the surrounding natural environment and the people who enjoy it," including increased traffic and parking congestion, excessive noise associated with operating a helicopter, the discharge of waste from the restroom and increased risks to safety in areas hard to access by emergency personnel, according to the petition.

In October 2014, Bungee America requested that the DRP grant a waiver permitting the continued operation of the project while the department processed the company's application for the permits and approvals necessary to legally operate, according to the petition.

In July 2018, DRP Director Amy Bodek, in a letter acknowledging that Bungee America did not have any land use permits for the project and "expressing some discomfort with granting Bungee America's waiver request," nevertheless determined without explanation that the project is "desirable to the public convenience" and granted Bungee America's request, the petition stated.

The approval was dependent upon Bungee America complying with 13 conditions controlling the maintenance and operation of the project, including the maintenance of restroom facilities according to state health law, the staffing of the site with knowledgeable personnel during certain hours and the acknowledgment of the potential future need to remove some structures, according to the petition.

The waiver was to expire on March 31, 2019, but it was later extended for six months with three more conditions, one of which obligated Bungee America to develop and submit to DRP an environmental analysis of the project in the form of an initial study under CEQA, the petition stated.

A series of extensions of the waiver continued with the most recent occurring Feb. 3, 2021, when it was given a new expiration date of Feb. 4, 2022, the petition stated.

"Concurrent with Regional Planning's seemingly perpetual extension of Bungee America's ... waiver, Regional Planning is processing Bungee America's applications for land use entitlements," the petition stated.

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