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Children’s Health Defense (CHD) and a coalition of community and environmental groups advocating for safe technology on Monday sued Los Angeles County to overturn amendments adopted by the county in January that allow for the fast-tracked proliferation of wireless infrastructure without due process and without residents’ right to appeal.
The lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges the amendments to title 16 and title 22 of the Los Angeles County Code violate the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by exempting projects under the ordinances from CEQA review.
The lawsuit also contends the ordinances raise constitutional due process concerns in relation to wireless projects that directly affect local residents, who will suffer significant losses of personal and real property rights without the ability to contest.
“The ordinance is purposefully designed to create a back-room, tower permit rubber-stamp process that excludes the public and even nearby residents that will be directly affected and aggrieved,” said W. Scott McCollough, attorney for the plaintiffs.
“The ordinance does — and individual permit decisions will — entirely ignore the environmental and other effects on people. It will exacerbate, not solve, the digital divide.”
The plaintiffs petitioned the court for a temporary stay and restraining order and preliminary injunction, pending resolution of the lawsuit.
The complaint points to multiple examples of what plaintiffs claim violate CEQA, the California Constitution and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ own rule.
According to the complaint:
“The Ordinance creates the framework for permitting thousands of wireless facilities throughout … the County. The Board of Supervisors purposefully and unlawfully blinded themselves to the significant and adverse consequences to its local communities and the environment that will occur as a direct result of this Project.
“A wireless project can often so sicken local residents that it constructively evicts whole families who can no longer tolerate continuous exposure to non-ionizing radiation emitted from small cell and macro cell towers. This situation is especially tragic for poor and minority families who are holding on desperately to affordable housing and lack any financial means of escape.
“Basic justice demands that these families … be given adequate prior notice and a fair hearing before their voices are silenced, their property is taken or devalued, or their lives are put at risk.”
The complaint alleges wireless facilities “will endanger the air, water, flora, fauna and objects of historic or aesthetic significance,” and that the facilities are “not designed to withstand earthquakes or floods and will create new risks of fire.”
The coalition bringing the lawsuit includes Fiber First LA, Mothers of East LA, Boyle Heights Community Partners, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Union Binacional de Organizaciones de Trabajadores Mexicanos Ex Braceros 1942-1964.
“The right of citizens to have a voice in important decisions about their health, their safety and their future is fundamental to American democracy,” said Brenda Martinez, founding member of Fiber First LA.
“The L.A. Board of Supervisors has clearly put the interests of giant telecoms ahead of the interests of the people they’re supposed to represent. There’s no other reason to take away the right of people in our community to be heard.”