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April 04, 2024

Judge Rules in Historic CHD Lawsuit Challenging Fast-tracking of Wireless Infrastructure in Los Angeles

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Press Release

For Immediate Release

Court upholds that state environmental law isn’t preempted by federal law, requires impact reviews for building wireless infrastructure on scenic highways, historic sites

Washington, D.C. On March 27, the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, issued its opinion in a landmark case brought by Children’s Health Defense (CHD) and a coalition of community and environmental groups that challenged the fast-tracking of 5G and other wireless technology in the County. The suit alleges that amendments to Title 16 and Title 22 of the L.A. County Code — which allow for the fast-tracked proliferation of wireless infrastructure — violate the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by exempting projects under the ordinances from CEQA review.

The Court ruled that state environmental law is not preempted by federal law and that it generally applies, except for minor modifications and colocations (additions to existing towers, upgrades, repairs, etc.). Other than for those exemptions, counties, municipalities, and zoning authorities must comply with state environmental law.

Additionally, the Court held that the exemption to CEQA review the County claimed does not apply to scenic highways and historical sites because of “substantial evidence there may be environmental impacts” to them. As a result, the County will have to perform some sort of environmental impact review before passing an ordinance governing permit applications for placement of wireless infrastructure on scenic highways and historic sites.

The Court also noted that the ordinance challenged by the Plaintiffs “contains discretionary decisions in permit issuance that require application of CEQA unless the Ordinance is otherwise exempt.” This holding will not directly lead to specific relief in this case, but it establishes an important legal principle that will guide other jurisdictions’ ordinance development since the wireless industry usually claims that both “discretionary” and “ministerial” permit applications are exempt from the requirement to assess environmental effects.

“The Court’s ruling is a huge win in the battle against unfettered proliferation of wireless because of the known risks to the environment and people’s health,” said W. Scott McCollough, lead attorney for the Plaintiffs. “There is much more to be done, and we work on it every day, but this is a significant step in the right direction.”


Children’s Health Defense® is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our mission is to end childhood health epidemics by working aggressively to eliminate harmful exposures, hold those responsible accountable and establish safeguards to prevent future harm. We fight corruption, mass surveillance and censorship that put profits before people as well as advocate for worldwide rights to health freedom and bodily autonomy.

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