South Coast air district to settle suit with Moreno Valley over World Logistics Center: Update

[Source: The Press Telegram] The South Coast Air Quality Management District board has voted to settle its lawsuit with the Moreno Valley over the World Logistics Center but is not yet disclosing terms of the deal.

With the air board, county and Riverside County Transportation Commission withdrawing their objections, the agreement eliminates several of the main opponents.

Kurt Wiese, the air district’s general counsel, confirmed Friday, Oct. 7 that the air board – made up of elected officials from Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties – authorized the deal in closed session.

The 40.6 million-square-foot warehouse complex would be one of the largest such facilities in the world – equal to 700 football fields. An earlier traffic study found that the World Logistics Center would draw 68,721 vehicles a day, 14,006 of them trucks.

The vote was 11 to 1, with Joseph Lyou casting the only “no” vote. Lyou is president and CEO of the nonprofit Coalition for Clean Air.

Lyou said he could not discuss the settlement terms because they were the subject of closed-session deliberations.

Board member John Benoit, a Riverside County supervisor, said that the air board negotiated the settlement with the developer and not the city. He said the settlement will impose air-pollution-reduction measures that would not have been achieved had the air district lost in court.

“In lawsuits, you always have to consider you might lose and get nothing,” said Benoit.

As a county supervisor, he also voted to settle lawsuits by Riverside County and the Riverside County Transportation Commission against Moreno Valley over the World Logistics Center. Those settlements require road improvements that also might not have been required if the city prevailed in court, he said.

Despite his three settlement votes, Benoit said he doesn’t support the mega-warehousing project because it’s too big for its location, and it creates traffic and air pollution problems.

Wiese, the air district’s attorney, said the terms of the air district’s settlement deal still need to be drafted into a document and signed before it can be released, possibly by next week.

Legal representatives for Moreno Valley and developer Highland Fairview could not be reached for comment Friday.

Moreno Valley Councilman Jeffrey Giba said he was not aware of the settlement, saying the council has left the litigation to be resolved by its attorneys.

“We’ve done our part by approving the World Logistics Center and making the pathway clear by the city’s standpoint for what we believe is a good project,” he said.

Highland Fairview and city officials say the project would create 20,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in economic benefits.

Source: The Press Telegram
October 7, 2016