As you probably read in the local news, and in the opinion section of the Press-Telegram today, the City of Long Beach has achieved a huge legal victory for our families, schools, and environment. After years of battling in court, we won our lawsuit against a proposed rail yard project that would have negatively affected West Long Beach neighborhoods.
The proposed project is a 185 acre facility, called the Southern California International Gateway, located very near neighborhoods, schools, and veteran housing developments. As proposed, the project would increase the effects of trucks, trains, noise and diesel fumes, and create additional negative environmental impacts on thousands of people, including local school kids. Judge Barry Goode ruled the Environmental Impact Report was deficient in several key areas including air quality, traffic, and noise effects, and ordered the project to halt until these issues are addressed.
When the project was first proposed, the City of Long Beach requested major changes to the project such as landscape buffers, funding for double-paned windows for local homes, and other means of reducing noise, traffic and air pollution. Unfortunately those requests for mitigation were not addressed, so the City Council and City Attorney filed suit and were joined by others including our local schools and several environmental groups. As a Councilmember at the time, I voted to litigate, and as Mayor, I committed to seeing this lawsuit through to ensure that our communities and residents are protected.
I want to thank our partners in the suit, including the Long Beach Unified School District, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris for joining us in this effort. I also want to thank former Mayor Bob Foster for his leadership in standing up for our residents, our great legal team, led by City Attorney Charlie Parkin and Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais, and the neighborhood activists for their tremendous work.
I believe we can have strong economic growth, port and rail modernization, and a thriving harbor complex without harming our community’s health. I’m committed to ensuring that we continue reducing emissions and improving air quality even as our port continues to grow and expands the use of on-dock rail. While building new rail infrastructure at our nation’s largest port complex is important to our economy, the health of our children and families must always come first.