Crowell & Moring Calls on Manhattan Beach to Re-Examine Housing Project Next to Active 111-year-old Oil Refinery

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., Oct. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Crowell & Moring today called on the City of Manhattan Beach to reject plans to build a 4-story, luxury apartment complex with seven low-income units next to an active, century-old oil refinery without an appropriate environmental, health and safety review.

In a letter sent to the Manhattan Beach City Council on behalf of pro bono client Chill The Build, Northwestern University constitutional scholar and Crowell lawyer Martin Redish wrote: “The constitutional issues here are quite clear. Manhattan Beach needs to fully consider the health and welfare concerns of its residents. A construction project taking place next to an active oil refinery is rife with danger and fraught with potential disaster.”

Redish added, “we encourage the city to conduct a thorough environmental review to understand the project’s consequences and the harm they may be enacting on the community. Failure to conduct a full environmental review in light of the specific facts of this matter is not only reckless; it is highly likely to violate the due process rights of the citizens of the community and therefore be enforceable in court.”

The opposition to the 79-apartment HighRose Project stems from the lack of due process and a thorough environmental review. The city claims such a review is not required because of California’s Density Bonus Law, a measure that gives developers favorable development rules in exchange for building affordable housing.

Nearby citizens are concerned about environmental dangers to Manhattan Beach resulting from the project’s excavation and construction on land that has not been disturbed for nearly half a century.

In addition to Redish, Crowell partners Evan Chuck and Rick McNeil are representing Chill The Build on a pro bono basis.

Commentary from Evan Chuck, partner, Crowell & Moring

“The City of Manhattan Beach is considering accepting the developer’s position that the City should blind itself and refrain from conducting a full environmental review of property that has not been touched for 50 years – before the EPA or many of our environmental protection law were established. California laws like CEQA and the Coastal Act provide the legal mechanism to conduct the needed review. On September 28, 2002, Governor Newsom signed the “Affordable Housing and High Roads Jobs Act of 2022” (“AB 2011”) recognizing that building affordable housing within 3200 feet of a refinery is inherently dangerous without appropriate environmental review. The City’s acceptance of the developer’s position violates due process as explained by Professor Redish’s remarks. It would also put the City of Manhattan Beach in conflict with the 3,200 foot setback policy behind the enactment of AB 2011 – a position that the Governor’s office championed on behalf of environmental and social justice advocates concerned about perptuating a cycle of social injustice by shoving historically black and brown communities into affordable housing next to oil drilling and gas refining facilities.”

To speak with Redish or Chuck about the opposition to the construction project and the legal implications of moving forward, please reach out to [email protected].

About Crowell & Moring LLP

Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia. Drawing on significant government, business, industry and legal experience, the firm helps clients capitalize on opportunities and provides creative solutions to complex litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and corporate and transactional issues. The firm is consistently recognized for its commitment to pro bono service and its programs and initiatives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. 

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Crowell & Moring Calls on Manhattan Beach to Re-Examine Housing Project Next to Active 111-year-old Oil Refinery WeeklyReviewer

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