Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Long Beach City Attorney Rejects NRDC Appeal Over Truck Program

An environmental group's appeal to the Long Beach City Council seeking to overturn a negotiated settlement between the Port of Long Beach and the American Trucking Associations over trucking restrictions in the port was rejected out of hand Friday by the Long Beach City Attorney.

Filed early last week by the National Resources Defense Council, the appeal cited a statue of the City Municipal Code that allows the City Council to overrule decisions by the city's semi-autonomous Board of Harbor Commissioners. In the appeal, NRDC attorney David Pettit asked the City Council to overturn the settlement, which removed the port and city from an ongoing federal lawsuit by the ATA over the port's Clean Truck Program. The NRDC claimed that settlement so changed the truck program that the port commission should have conducted an additional California Environmental Quality Act analysis of program. The commission, in approving the settlement on Oct. 19, determined that the settlement did not require such an analysis.

City Attorney Robert Shannon did not address the CEQA issue in his rejection of the appeal, instead stating that the federal court which approved the settlement retains jurisdiction in the matter, and under the US Constitution federal primacy overrules state and local jurisdiction.

In addition, Shannon determined that the filing by the NRDC was not within the 10-day window required by the appeal process in the City Municipal Code.

Shannon also warned the NRDC that an additional appeal threatened by the group over a separate port commission ruling on the settlement would also be rejected out of hand for the same reasons.

The ATA lawsuit, scheduled to go before a judge in March, 2010, still seeks to block aspects of the neighboring Port of Los Angeles' version of the truck program.