The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was passed to provide guidelines for private and public officials to protect the environment. A recently rejected lawsuit has brought forward the controversy that certain property owners in California may have been trying to abuse the CEQA for their own professional gains.
Ruling allows construction project
Olen Properties has sued Newport Beach to prevent the construction of an apartment complex in a business district and failed. A judge recently ruled that the construction is allowed to go underway. The plaintiff claimed that the environmental review process was not adequate. During this procedure, environmentalists decide if the new commercial property could increase pollution and population in the city.
Abuse of the CEQA
Land use litigation is common to prevent projects that are seen as environmentally destructive. However, in this case, the plaintiff is the billionaire Igor Olenicoff who owns Olen Properties. An attorney for The Picerne Group states that the lawsuit is a form of “CEQA abuse,” which is using the California Environmental Quality Act to stop the building of new, competitive housing.
In the case of CEQA, attorneys state that Olenicoff has no interest in environmentalism because of his past actions. Previously, he has pled guilty to hiding millions of dollars in assets from the IRS.
The legitimacy of property lawsuits
The CEQA outlines the actions that public officials should take to prevent detrimental activities to the environment. However, some property owners have been accused of using this law to prevent the clash of construction projects that have undergone the mandatory environmental review processes. Several lawsuits have been criticized for being filed to block the actions of legitimate business actions.