Land Use and Environmental Justice

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Sept. 18, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The Air Resources Board (ARB) has scheduled a "study session" for Monday, October 4, 2004 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the University of Southern California. The focus will be ARB guidance to local government land use planners concerning incompatible land uses, specifically:

A. Siting of neighborhoods and schools near sources of toxic air pollutants (including freeways, distribution centers, industrial facilities, commercial facilities).

B. Siting of sources of toxic air pollutants near neighborhoods. The key issue is whether the ARB should simply flag the situation and recommend that local governments consult the air district for information regarding appropriate distance limitations or whether they should strongly suggest buffer zones based on worst-case assumptions. CMTA believes that ARB got it right in their draft by doing the former. Screening distances are provided for 10 key sources (see page 26 of May 2004 handbook draft) to alert local government when additional analysis should be conducted based on site-specific factors in consultation with the air district to determine an appropriate distance between the source and a receptor.

There is considerable community/environmental group pressure urging the ARB to require buffer zones that would be specified in the Handbook and based on worst-case assumptions (e.g., most adverse meteorology). If the buffer zone distance was not available, the facility would not be sited in that area. They are opposed to distances being developed on a project-to-project basis. Advocates of this position avoid discussion of compensation for buffer zone land thereby rendered unusable.

With a shortage of available housing, overly conservative decisions regarding distance limitations take scarce land away from affordable housing projects and would severely restrict (if not halt) "Brownfield" development.

CMTA urges members to attend this meeting and support the ARB draft. It is rumored that the environmental community will be there in force.
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