Los Angeles County Sued Over Alleged Inadequate Plan for LA River

The Center for Biological Diversity issued a press release on Thursday detailing a lawsuit they filed with LA Waterkeeper against Los Angeles County on Wednesday. The complaint raises issue with the county’s updated river master plan, which aims to guide Los Angeles River development. Specifically, the suit alleges that the defendant “failed to disclose impacts to disadvantaged communities along the river” in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The press release notes that the river master plan is “intended to provide a roadmap for development along the LA River,” yet provides little guidance detailing how to do so. Rather, the river master plan offers vaguely described projects. An environmental review of the plan under the California Environmental Quality Act can only take place if the plan is well-define and foreseeable environmental impacts are assessed.

A staff attorney for LA Waterkeeper, Benjamin Harris, explained that “the Master Plan attempts to have it both ways by claiming a wide variety of projects and approaches could be pursued along the river, and then also concluding that specific projects that have yet to be fully defined will have less than significant environmental impacts.”

The California Environmental Quality Act seeks to ensure that community members can be involved in and informed about projects and their subsequent impacts. In the case of the river master plan, the plaintiffs contend that the county engaged in a “deficient planning process for the Master Plan and failed to provide substantive responses to comments provided by state agencies regarding potential project impacts as required under the Act.”

LA Waterkeeper’s executive director, Bruce Reznik, said of the lawsuit, “The plan approved by the county simply doesn’t have enough information for the public to understand how it will harm and benefit different areas.”

The plaintiffs seek for the county to rescind their approval of the updated river master plan and replace it with a more thorough environmental review.