Take a guess – is this a spiritual observation or lesson in wavelengths? “A rock dropped into a smooth pond can cause ripples on distant shores.”
Neither! It’s an Environmental Impact Report observation by Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald Bauer, part of his recent written order (.pdf) rejecting the City of Riverside’s attempt to stop an expansion project at the Port of Los Angeles – a victory for Meyers Nave attorney Amrit Kulkarni.
Riverside, 62 miles away from the port, had argued that the expansion project would result in increased rail traffic through Riverside, which would lead to longer traffic stoppages and degraded environmental quality.
Bauer, in his order, says the ripples of the port expansion project undeniably will reach the distant shores of Riverside – but that’s not reason enough to stop it on the basis of the port’s Environmental Impact Report. The judge was persuaded by the port’s “reasonable and reasoned analysis” of potential impacts on Riverside.
Kulkarni, head of Meyers Nave’s land use litigation practice and the port’s lawyer, said the case was among the first to closely address the question of how far out government agencies have to study environmental impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act.
The court is saying “you do have an obligation to look, but you don’t have to study it to the point of minutiae,” Kulkarni said. “As long as you have credible expert evidence, that’s good enough.”
Meanwhile, Bauer expanded on his ripple analogy in a paragraph he described as the court’s “rambling musings”: “Lurking in the background of this entire case is the question of whether any increase in Riverside rail traffic is caused by this Port expansion…There are more children in Riverside (and San Berardino and Barstow) wearing clothes from Bangladesh. There are more households in Riverside buying refrigerators made in the Republic of Korea…Those new residents of Riverside, and of points east, are the direct cause of increased traffic on the streets and rails of Riverside.”