Connect with us

International Circuit

LA Judge challenges fast-tracking of wireless infrastructure

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.”

CT Bureau

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2024 Communications Today

error: Content is protected !!