Readers React: With industry and housing increasingly side by side, CEQA is more important than ever

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To the editor: Jim Newton calls for amendments to the California Environmental Quality Act that will prevent communities from suing to challenge land uses, such as the proposed Southern California International Gateway switching yard in San Pedro, that deeply affect the health, safety and quality of life of nearby residents. Newton suggests these suits are simply tools of disgruntled residents, ambitious unions and lawyers seeking enrichment. (“How good environmental legislation goes wrong,” Opinion, April 21)

In fact, CEQA suits are risky, expensive and difficult, and nowadays, they are more important to communities than ever before.

Today, we live in congested, physically dangerous areas. The open space that once separated industry from residential areas and allowed lower density of housing areas is gone. Development has a much deeper impact everywhere. Thus, the right to challenge and a project’s environmental impact report are critical to all of us.


If a 5,000-page EIR still shows a project has substantial negative impacts on the surrounding community, maybe it does. Barring community members from demonstrating that doesn’t make it better.

Joni Halpern, San Diego


To the editor: The proposed switching yard at the Port of Los Angeles is a bad project whose EIR was correctly rejected by a Superior Court judge. The plaintiffs suggested many feasible measures to reduce the air pollution, which were rejected by the Port and the railway company BNSF.

At the time the project was first proposed, the then-president of the Harbor Commission said that no diesel-powered trucks should be use to move containers from the docks to the rail yard. The Port reneged on that promise.

Plaintiffs in this case included the city of Long Beach, the Long Beach Unified School District, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the state attorney general. Does that sound like a bunch of NIMBYs?

The argument that the rail yard will reduce truck trips on the 710 Freeway is spin. Transportation agencies are in the early stages of a multibillion-dollar project to allow more trucks to access the ports.


CEQA is the only thing standing between poor communities and more cancer-causing air pollution. It should be strengthened, not weakened.

Noel Park, Rancho Palos Verdes

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