The city of Long Beach is appealing the approval of a controversial plan to build a $500 million railyard in Wilmington.
The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners voted unanimously last week to support the final environmental impact report for the BNSF Railway Co.'s Southern California International Gateway railyard, or SCIG. A 50-year lease to operate the facility still needs harbor commission and Los Angeles City Council approval. With Thursday's appeal, the environmental report will also go to the LA City Council for consideration.
Environmental groups, residents and Long Beach city officials have protested the project, citing traffic and health issues, and have asked officials to relocate the facility or provide more mitigation measures.
"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," Mayor Bob Foster said in a statement Thursday announcing the appeal.
The 153-acre SCIG facility located in an industrial area near the Terminal Island Freeway would have the capacity to handle up to 2.8 million container units from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, including 570,800 units in 2016, the first year of operation, according to a report.
About 1,500 jobs would be created to build the project, and the facility would employ up to 1,096 after it reaches full capacity by 2035, the report
The level of activity concerns those close to the site, which is near several schools, day care centers and parks in West Long Beach.
The area's representative, Councilman James Johnson, has strongly opposed the project.
"We do not need to sacrifice our environment or our neighborhoods to grow the economy, and I hope that in its consideration of the SCIG, the Los Angeles City Council shows Long Beach residents the same care and respect they have shown L.A. residents on similar projects," Johnson said in a statement.
In its appeal, Long Beach accused harbor commissioners of abusing their discretion in approving the project and failing to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Commissioners also neglected to adequately address the SCIG project's impact on Long Beach, its residents and businesses, according to the appeal.
City officials said they were committed to resolving its differences with project representatives "in lieu of proceeding to litigation."
Staff Writer Karen Robes Meeks contributed to this report.
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