City Council Votes to Appeal New Railyard Project

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The City of Long Beach has formally appealed a decision by the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners to approve a new railyard adjacent to Long Beach. The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to appeal the Commissioners’ decision.

“This project and the corresponding environmental document ignores the tremendous impacts on the residents and businesses in the immediate area, and fails to correct those impacts in any meaningful way,” said Mayor Bob Foster.

The Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) Project proposed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) calls for a new intermodal railyard that would transfer containerized cargo between trucks and railcars approximately 4 miles to the north of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (Ports), primarily on City of Los Angeles Harbor Department land, adjacent to the City’s Westside between Pacific Coast Highway and the Willow Street.

“Long Beach stood united on behalf of our residents,” said Councilmember James Johnson. “We do not need to sacrifice our environment or our neighborhoods to grow the economy, and I hope that in its consideration of SCIG, the Los Angeles City Council shows Long Beach residents the same care and respect they have shown L.A. residents on similar projects.”

According to the City’s appeal, “The grounds for this appeal are that the Board of Harbor Commissioners did not proceed in the manner required by law, abused its discretion, and violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to comply with CEQA’s requirements. …Despite the written and oral comments of the City of Long Beach and other interested individuals and agencies (including the AQMD), the FEIR, as certified, included numerous deficiencies and, moreover, failed to adequately address the potential impacts of the SCIG Project on the City of Long Beach, its residents and businesses. In addition, the mitigation measures included in the Final EIR fail to adequately reduce project impacts to an acceptable level, and do not adequately protect neighborhoods and the sensitive receptors that will be impacted by the Project.”

Long Beach has objected to the project’s lack of appropriate mitigation measures to protect the residents and businesses in the immediate area, including the lack of zero emission trucks to transport cargo, the absence of a buffer zone between industrial uses and neighborhoods and mitigation measures for individual homes, and the dislocation of 4 companies with over 1,500 employees who will be terminated.

While the City’s appeal preserves its legal rights, the City of Long Beach remains committed to a cooperative resolution, and is willing to meet with appropriate representatives of the Project to work toward a solution to the rail impact issues, in lieu of proceeding to litigation.

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