Governor Brown VETOES SB-811, Measure Would Have Required CalTrans to Study (Not Necessarily Adopt) Grassroots "Community Alternative 7" In I-710 EIR/EIS

Alternative 7 included no freeway widening; four dedicated (mandatory) zero-emissions truck lanes; no add'l general-purpose lanes; local hiring/workforce provisions; increased open spaces and L.A. river improvements; enhanced public transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure

(Oct. 11, 2013, 2:35 p.m., updated Oct. 12, 12:30 a.m.) -- Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed SB 811, authored by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D., Long Beach-Huntington Park) which would have required CalTrans to study (not necessarily adopt) a grassroots-proposed "Community Alternative 7" as part of the environmental review for the I-710 freeway expansion (whose current alternatives include up to 14 lanes (10 mixed flow + 4 truck lanes.)

Just days ago on Oct. 8, the Long Beach City Council voted to urge Governor Brown to sign SB 811. (Council vote was 7-2, DeLong and Andrews absent.)

"Community Alternative 7," proposed by the "Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice," included no freeway widening; four dedicated (mandatory) zero-emissions truck lanes; no add'l general-purpose lanes; local hiring/workforce provisions; increased open space and L.A. river improvements and enhanced public transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure

In his veto message, Governor Brown wrote:

This bill requires that a specific mitigation plan be considered for the I-710 widening project.

I commend the author's objectives, as reflected in this bill, to improve air quality ensure access to bicycle and pedestrian paths, and increase access to public transit. These are goals we share.

However, statutorily requiring the project environmental impact report to consider specified mitigation measures that exceed the project's scope is a precedent I don't wish to establish. Caltrans is instructed to work with the author and local stakeholders in identifying mitigation measures within the scope of CEQA that ensure the I-710 project benefits motorists, good [sic, likely should be "goods"] movement, the community, and the environment.

[UPDATE] In a release reacting to the veto, Senator Lara stated:

While I am disappointed that key components and guarantees provided by SB 811 will not be implemented in standards, the extensive work and discussions we have had this year on community impacts, mitigation and benefits were not in vain...Last week, Malcolm Dougherty the Director of Caltrans, toured my district, met with members of the community and stakeholders, and assured me that the concerns of the community will be heard and Community Alternative 7 will be analyzed. Though this bill was not signed, we have a relationship and a seat at the table that will still enable us to advocate for clean air, safe roads and healthy communities."


SB 811 received a "yes' vote on the Assembly floor from Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D., Long Beach). To view the bill text as sent to, and vetoed by, Governor Brown, click here.

On its website, the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice said some of the components of "Community Alternative 7" to the EIR alternatives include:

  • No widening of the freeway -- four dedicated (mandatory) zero-emissions truck lanes, but no additional general-purpose lanes;

  • Local hire and workforce development provisions -- to ensure that local community members will have access to the green jobs created by this project;

  • Community improvements that will increase residentsí access to the natural environment -- increasing open spaces and parks, and making improvements to the LA River;

  • Enhancement of public transit plans, bike and pedestrian infrastructure -- In a public transit dependent community, addressing all modes of transportation will improve the overall quality of life for residents living along the corridor. This comprehensive public transit plan is also essential in the reduction of vehicular traffic of the 710 freeway.

...To read the full version of CEHAJís DEIR comments regarding the CA-7, please visit this link.

The state Senate floor analysis stated in part that SB 811 would have required Caltrans... consider, within the environmental review process, alternatives to address the air quality, public health, and mobility impacts that the project could have on neighboring communities.

...requires that "Community Alternative 7," in its entirety, be studied in the environmental review as a complete project alternative. ...At least 90 days prior to approving the environmental document for the proposed project requires the lead agency to submit to the I-710 EIR/EIS Project Committee a report that describes the identified mitigation measures and community benefits that will be included in the project.

...According to Assembly Appropriations Committee, Caltrans indicates that, in its current environment review process, it is taking into account all the design elements in Community Alternative 7 that impact the project. Due to consideration of additional factors, Caltrans believes the scope of Community Alternative 7 goes beyond actual project mitigation measures most likely needed. Caltrans estimates evaluation of these additional measures will increase environmental review costs by $3 million to $5 million dollars above the based cost, which is estimated at $45 million to $50 million.

SB 811's recorded supporters included (listed in state Senate legislative analysis in September):

American Lung Association in California
Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council
Building Healthy Communities, Long Beach Steering Committee
California Environmental Justice Alliance
City of Bell, Commerce, and Huntington Park
City of Long Beach, Council District 9
Coalition for Clean Air
Communities for a Better Environment
Community Action to Fight Asthma
Community Health Councils
East Los Angeles Community Corporation
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
Environmental Defense Fund
Gage Middle School
Greater Pasadena Jews for Justice
Green Education Inc.
Housing Long Beach
InnerCity Struggle
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma
Long Beach Grows
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation
Natural Resources Defense Council
Planning and Conservation League
Regional Asthma Management and Prevention
Ruckus Society
Sierra Club
Trust for Public Land

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