Riverside County judge says Moreno Valley’s general plan is environmentally flawed

The city has 60 days to appeal the decision

Riverside County judge says Moreno Valley’s general plan is environmentally flawed

Last week, a Riverside County Superior Court Judge ruled that Moreno Valley’s general plan violates state environmental law because it doesn’t properly assess the air quality and health impacts of warehouse growth.

The Sierra Club sued the City of Moreno Valley in 2021 – arguing that the city rushed to approve the MoVal 2040 general plan. The ‘MoVal 2024’ general plan is the city’s blueprint for economic and warehouse development for the next 20 years. 

Attorneys for the Sierra Club argue the city did an environmental review without addressing public concerns over air pollution, harmful emissions from warehouse projects and other environmental impacts to residential neighborhoods like the Edgemont community.

Attorney General Rob Bonta later intervened in the lawsuit. 

Riverside County Judge Chad Firetag agreed with the Sierra Club and their lawyers, ordering the city to set aside project approvals related to the MoVal 2040 plan until it makes adjustments recommended in his ruling:

According to a Sierra Club press release, that includes:

  • Failure to properly measure air quality impacts against existing conditions
  • Lack of analysis of the project's effects on vulnerable populations like children and seniors
  • Insufficient evidence to dismiss the plan's significant increases in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Inadequate mitigation measures to address environmental harm
  • Failure to properly analyze and mitigate the project’s wasteful energy use

Attorney Matthew McKerley, who represented the Sierra Club in the lawsuit, says the judge made the right decision. 

“The city has repeatedly cited major warehousing and industrial development in the city and a lot of that warehousing is located very close to people's homes,” he said. “And that's why the court held that the city's adoption of that plan was invalid.”

According to CalEnviroScreen – the state’s environmental data screening tool – the Edgemont area McKerley mentioned has extremely high levels of smog pollution. 

George Hague, the chair of the Sierra Club San Gorgonio chapter who advocates for clean air, said in a statement that Judge Firetag’s decision is a huge win for environmental advocates and Moreno Valley residents. He says the city must go back and do a legitimate review of the general plan. 

"We welcome working with the city to get this right," Hague said. "The goal is a General Plan for Moreno Valley's future that grows the economy while protecting residents' health and natural resources."

Moreno Valley City Attorney Steve Quintanilla says the city can’t comment due to pending litigation.

The court halted Moreno Valley's General Plan until it aligns with state environmental law. The city has 60 days to appeal the decision.