Coalition Files Suit Against City of Long Beach, Claiming Community Input Circumvented during Hotel Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2009

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Coalition Files Suit Against City of Long Beach, Claiming Community Input Circumvented during Hotel Development

Community Group Says City Council is in Violation of Brown Act and California Environmental Quality Act

LONG BEACH — On Friday, August 21, the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community filed suit against the City of Long Beach claiming the development of the 125-room Hotel Sierra at the Pike needs a new Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to assess the possible impact the hotel development will have on the environment and local communities.

The city also denied members of the public the chance to directly address concerns about the project and its environmental impacts to the community. The Brown Act requires the City of Long Beach to “provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the [City Council] on any item of interest to the public, before and during the legislative body’s consideration of the item”. Unfortunately, this did not happen at the July 21st City Council meeting.

“A few weeks ago, we spoke to City Council about this project with regard to the environmental, social, and economic impacts on our community. In response, a majority of the Council voted to postpone the vote to provide an opportunity for the community to voice its support for responsible development,” said CSULB Sociology Professor Gary Hytrek and Coalition Steering Committee Member. “We met with the developers of the Hotel Sierra and expressed our concerns for the lack of quality jobs and community input. While the developers listened, there was absolutely no indication of any intent to engage in a meaningful conversation about real community input into this process.”

The Coalition filed suit against the City on the grounds that Lodgeworks, the developer and operator of the proposed hotel, was permitted to use an addendum to the original Environmental Impact Report (EIR), despite the fact that the project is substantially different than the original plan. The 7-year old EIR was modified to allow the construction of a single 275-room hotel at the Pike. Developers used that EIR to construct the 140-room Avia Hotel in 2005. In 2009, developers asked for an addendum to the EIR that would allow for the development of Hotel Sierra, their second hotel at the Pike.

The city amended the plan to allow the construction of two hotels totaling 265 rooms at the proposed site. Although the total rooms would be lower than the original provision, the city does not take into account the negative environmental impacts caused by having two separate hotels in lieu of one. There was no consideration for the impact that a second hotel, with separate facilities, would have to air quality, hazardous materials, water quality, water supply, and greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Brown Act and CEQA are two of the most important laws the public has for preserving our democracy and protecting public health and the environment,” said environmental attorney Cory Briggs of Brigg Law Corporation. “Long Beach’s violations of both laws is a serious injury that the public should not have to endure.”

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