Long Beach City Council Unanimously Approves Lawsuit Against City of Los Angeles over Proposed SCIG Rail Yard
In closed-session meeting yesterday evening, the Long Beach City Council unanimously voted 9-0 to pursue litigation against the City of Los Angeles for its recent approval of the BNSF-led Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) railyard.
The move was not shocking by any means.
The city had already previously filed an unanimous appeal (with Councilmember Suja Lowenthal absent) in accord with major community groups back in March against the Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners following their unanimous approval of the project. Citing an alarming amount of evidence that the FEIR was ultimately fabricated on many grounds, the city felt obligated to attack BNSF’s stance that the rail yard project ultimately benefits West Long Beach residents.
Mayor Bob Foster has been vitriolic in his outspokenness against the project, with one of his quotes–“It is very hard for me intellectually to accept that you value the life of a kid on this side of the city border more than you do a kid in my city”–finding itself on every major newspaper in the country, even on the pages of the New York Times.
7th District Councilmember James Johnson led the Long Beach charge against the project–he held his own public meeting after the Port of L.A. decided to not hold one in West Long Beach, the neighborhood which is vastly affected by the project. He was also the sole councilmember to speak during the Los Angeles City Council meeting when the project was formally up for final vote.
“Los Angeles has taken the wrong approach,” Johnson said when speaking with Streetsblog. “Long Beach has shown time and time again that green growth can bring jobs to our region while improving, not degrading, our neighborhoods. I thank Mayor Foster for his leadership and my Council colleagues for standing with me to protect Long Beach families, including nearby veterans, students and children.”
The lawsuit is likely to be filed on behalf of the community groups who have also been outspokenly against the project, including the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Communities for a Better Environment, Legal Aid Foundation of L.A., Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma, Natural Resources Defense Council, Long Beach Community Action Partnership, Coalition for Clean Air, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
BNSF representative Lena Kent was succinct in her response via email, which was what she told all other press verbatim: “We are disappointed by the City’s decision to litigate. However, BNSF remains committed to working with Long Beach to create jobs, reduce traffic on the local highway and improve the environment for its residents. ”
Los Angeles City Council members as well as the City Attorney of Long Beach have not responded yet for comment.