A coalition of environmental groups Friday sued the city of Chico in Northern California over its approval to build 2,777 new homes and other public facilities—without assessing the risk of wildfires in the area. The Valley’s Edge Specific Plan (VESP) will include housing, as well as parks and public facilities for the elderly.
Since 2019, the city has been preparing an environmental impact report (EIR) for the project and decided that the project would result in “significant and unavoidable impacts.” The environmental groups assert that their aesthetic and environmental interests are impacted by the city’s decision. They claimed that the city’s EIR violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The groups suggested that the EIR did not provide sufficient environmental analysis to allow necessary consideration for the proposed project and did not give a range of mitigatory measures. Aesthetics, biological resources and wildfires were “not adequately disclosed or analyzed” in the EIR, according to the groups.
However, the issue of wildfires seems to be the most significant factor in the environmental groups’ petition. An analysis of public safety and evacuation were not discussed in the EIR, and neither was the history of wildfires in the area and the effect it will have on wildlife and water resources.
Valley’s Edge asserts that the planning is sustainable and that the lawsuit against them impacts Chico’s residents, who have been waiting for affordable housing and green spaces in their neighborhood.
The environmental groups aim to have the city of Chico to prepare a new “legally adequate” EIR for the project and not to make any changes to the site until the EIR is compliant with the CEQA.