Jose Medina’s bill aims to close ‘loophole’ so certain projects can’t avoid environmental review
By Imran Ghori
When Moreno Valley approved the 40.6-million square-foot World Logistics Center project two years ago, Assemblyman Jose Medina watched from the sidelines.
But he grew concerned when — barely a month after a split city council approved the project — developer Highland Fairview bankrolled three ballot initiatives aimed at thwarting legal challenges to the project’s environmental review.
Through a loophole in state law, projects approved by initiative were able to circumvent the state law requiring environmental review of its impacts, Medina, D-Riverside, said. A bill he introduced in February that passed the state Legislature this week would no longer allow developers to bypass environmental review, he said.
“As I saw more and more the influence of money in the politics of Moreno Valley, in the election of city council members and mayor, I saw that it was time for me to act,” Medina said Wednesday, Sept. 13.
Developers should analyze the impacts of their projects and address the costs of solving those problems so taxpayers don’t have to later, he said. The bill would require such analysis for projects approved by initiative.
The legislation would apply only to projects approved after Jan. 1, 2018 and would not effect the World Logistics Center. It now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration. He has 30 days from the Friday, Sept. 15, end of the legislative session to act.
Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez and City Councilwoman Victoria Baca both traveled to Sacramento in recent weeks to lobby against Medina’s bill. They said it would threaten voters’ constitutional rights and jobs that would be created by the mega-warehouse project.
Highland Fairview also opposed the bill, but in a statement through a spokesman, company CEO/President Iddo Benzeevi stated Thursday, Sept. 14, that he was satisfied with changes made to the bill. He declined to elaborate on what had changed […]