Homework Counts for a Third of Your Grade

We learned at the last council meeting that the mayor and his fellow council members believe they were elected to follow the city staff and aren't required to do their homework on important issues such as the Heartland Warehouse. Luckily for us, they have agreed to hold a workshop on July 2nd. This will give us the opportunity to do their homework for them and hopefully help them to make better, more informed decisions.

I've read the SCAQMD Review presented at the June 4 council meeting and a comment letter prepared by the Johnson & Sedlack law firmed retained by a private citizen. At the end of the 29 comment page letter, the firm documents their experience and proves they are credible to comment on the project.

Over the next week I will review sections of the documentation presented to the council and, with your help, will generate a list of questions we can pose to the city council at the workshop. I am sure there will be a 3 minute time limit so we will need to work together presenting all the questions.

Let me begin by saying that after reviewing all the information it appears to me that our planning department did not do their due diligence and appeared to be more concerned about having the project approved than providing the council and the public all the facts and an opportunity for the public to make informed comments. I believe our council should hold the city manager and the director of the planning department accountable. We should hold our council members accountable if they don't. Our planning commissioners should also shoulder some of the blame. Oversight of our elected officials is our duty as citizens.

General Comments And Project Summary

Let's start with page 2 and page 3 of the report which cover general comments and a summary of the project.

Here are some excerpts that I believe need no explanation:

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) must be interpreted to afford the fullest protection to the environment within the scope of the statutory language. Central to CEQA is the EIR (Environmental Impact Report), which informs the public and decision-makers of the environmental consequences of a project before it is undertaken. Preparation of an addendum to a nine year old EIR does not comport with CEQA.

The Addendum and EIR fail as informational documents. The Addendum misleads decision makers and the public as to the extent and severity of the Project's environmental effects.

It is critical to proper drafting of an EIR or Addendum that all 
feasible mitigation measures be required of a project. This has not been done with this Project.
Of particular concern, this Project denies the public their right to comment on the Final Project 
and on the Project's Mitigation Monitoring Program.

The City cannot deny the public the opportunity to comment on the final Project and on the
Mitigation Monitoring Program, nor may the City defer preparation of a Mitigation Monitoring
Program for this Project.

As a planner with over 40 years of expedence and with a Masters of Regional and Community
Planning, I am unaware of any provision of California Planning Law that allows for two specific
plans to exist simultaneously on the same property nor have I ever witnessed two radically
different land uses which are both consistent with a City's General Plan.

Questions for the Council:
  1. Why did you feel a 20 year old Environmental Impact Report with an addendum prepared by a company handpicked by the property owner was sufficient to make such an important decision?
  2. Since a Mitigation Monitoring Program wasn't presented at the public hearing, when would the public have been able to comment?
  3. What is the justification for zoning the Heartland property for two purposes?


Next homework assignment is due Tuesday June 25, be prepared to discuss. It will cover the following sections from pages 4-9:

III. This Project Must Be Rejected Because CEQA Requires Preparation of a New EIR,

Not a Mere Addendum.

IV. The Addendum and 1994 EIR Do Not Comport with CEQA.


  • Project Description
  • Mitigation
  • Aesthetics
  • Air Quality