LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris recently announced a settlement in a lawsuit challenging the approval of an industrial project in Riverside County that would cause additional diesel truck traffic near a community already disproportionately affected by diesel exhaust and noise pollution.
As part of the agreement, the City of Jurupa Valley and other parties will take action to significantly reduce the project’s air quality impacts on Mira Loma Village, a primarily Hispanic residential community.
“It is a false choice to suggest that in order for California business to thrive, public health must suffer,” Attorney General Harris said. “It is my intention that this settlement will provide a model for local governments, developers and communities to work together to ensure responsible development benefiting all Californians.”
In September 2011, Attorney General Harris joined the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) action filed by the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice to set aside Riverside County’s approval for the Mira Loma Commerce Center, which would consist of a million square feet of warehouses and industrial buildings.
The suit outlined the county’s failure to adequately analyze and mitigate the project’s impacts on Mira Loma Village residents in light of the already serious health and environmental risks suffered by the community.
The City of Jurupa Valley, which was incorporated in 2011, now has jurisdiction over the project site. The city and the project developers agreed as part of the settlement to implement and fund the following:
- Proceedings for preparation of an Environmental Justice Element of the City’s General Plan;
- Installation of air filtration systems in the homes of Mira Loma residents;
- Air quality monitoring in Mira Loma Village;
- Landscaping in setback areas with plants with potential to remove or reduce exposure to diesel particulate emissions; and,
- A “green” project site, including a 100kW capacity solar photovoltaic system, LEED Silver certified project buildings, and electric vehicle charging stations.
“We are extremely impressed with the cooperative process that took place to arrive at this agreement,” said Penny Newman, Executive Director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. “This settlement has created the ‘gold standard’ for settlements in addressing impacts through a model process of how diverse stakeholders can come together and cooperatively find comprehensive solutions.”
The settlement also requires the City of Jurupa Valley to conduct proceedings to adopt an ordinance to prohibit heavy trucks on the road adjacent to Mira Loma Village, to implement an anti-idling enforcement program and to consider environmental justice during CEQA review for future projects in the City.
Since the 1990s, Riverside County has approved a series of warehouse projects that are now under the City of Jurupa Valley’s jurisdiction. Thousands of trucks travel to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to distribution centers and warehouses in the City of Jurupa Valley and other areas of Riverside County each day. These trucks spew diesel exhaust causing harmful health impact to residents living near the freeways and roads on which the trucks travel. Diesel exhaust is listed as a known carcinogen under Proposition 65. The levels of particulate matter and ozone pollutants in the Jurupa Valley area are significantly higher than both California and federal air quality standards.
This settlement will help reduce the public health impacts caused by the project and existing warehouse facilities on the overburdened community of Mira Loma Village. This settlement serves as a model for how other local governments can encourage smart development while also addressing environmental public health in their communities.