Temecula is using the courts to overturn ordinance amendments that give the Riverside County Board of Supervisors power to allow surface mining projects, while skipping county Planning Commission perusal or approval.
City officials are worried that the defeated Liberty Quarry could rear its head again, this time under a fast-track process that would require very little review and no other oversight.
The city attorney filed the papers in Riverside County Superior Court Wednesday.
In addition to a petition for a Writ of Mandate invalidating the amendments, the city is also asking for a stay and a permanent injunction that would keep the county from fast-tracking any strip mining projects—ever.
The contentious Liberty Quarry falls within the purview of the fast-track ordinance, angering city officials and spurring the fight against a proposed project just outside city limits.
According to papers filed with the court, the city is basing its petition on four points:
- The county is violating California Environmental Quality Act laws because it never proved an assertion that there are no potential environmental impacts associated with any projects for which the amendments will make way;
- The county did not publicize or hold public hearings before the Riverside County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors before taking a vote;
- The county violated state law by not placing the matter for approval first before California's Mining and Geology Board;
- State law does not allow the county to designate itself a planning agency solely to "cherry pick" the projects it wants to fast-track and send all others to the county Planning Commission, papers state.
A status hearing on the case is set for Dec. 10 in Dept. 4 at the Historic Courthouse, 4050 Main St., in Riverside.
Supervisors in August voted 3-2 to add surface mines to the list of projects that can bypass the county's planning commission and head straight to the supervisors for consideration -- a process known as fast-tracking.
That vote came on the heels of the board's certification of an Environmental Impact Report that left the door open for the Watsonville-based Granite Construction Co. to return with a modified version of a proposed 414-acre mining operation at Rainbow Canyon Road and Interstate 15.
City officials fear the board's amendments have paved the way for Granite to have its proposed operation fast-tracked to approval with no further study or oversight.
To read about the Supervisors' fast-track vote, please click here.