On June 4, 2016, the City of Los Angeles rolls out its much-discussed Clean Up Green Up (CUGU) pilot program for three communities: Boyle Heights, Wilmington and Pacoima. Ordinance 184246, approved by Mayor Garcetti on April 22, 2016, adds new rules to the City’s Planning and Zoning Code and Building Code. CUGU is controversial. Communities and their advocates say that the cumulative environmental impacts from multiple businesses in these neighborhoods expose residents to higher levels of pollution than other City neighborhoods. They also say the program is designed to help neighborhood businesses obtain permits and comply with regulations. Businesses and their advocates assert that the program has abandoned promises for meaningful incentives and assistance to local businesses. They also say that the program will discourage business improvement because major improvements or additions bring down the new regulations on the heads of existing businesses.
Section 13.18 of the Ordinance states that the “purpose of the CUGU District is to reduce cumulative health effects resulting from land uses including, but not limited to, concentrated industrial land use, on-road vehicle travel, and heavily freight-dominated transportation corridors, which are incompatible with [nearby homes, schools and other sensitive uses].”
The CUGU standards will apply to a new building or to any existing building experiencing a “major improvement” and to an “addition,” if the cost of either exceeds 50% of the replacement value of all buildings and structures on the entire project site. The standards apply to sites for myriad types of businesses or “subject uses,” grouped into automotive uses, fabrics, food and animal, manufacturing uses, metals, other (including packaging, foundry, furniture assembly, morgues and repair shops), other transportation, petroleum-related uses, warehouse/distribution and waste disposal/management. (The list covers all or part of nine pages in the Ordinance, available at https://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=15-1026 )
In addition, the Ordinance has a separate section for new oil refineries or those expanding operation beyond current property lines. Such refineries must use the California Communities Environmental Health Screening tool to prepare a health impact assessment for the community and submit a truck routing plan to minimize commercial truck traffic.
Standard selection for a project depends on whether it is (1) a subject use; (2) a subject use adjacent to a publicly habitable space (dwelling unit, school, park, recreation center, day care center, hospital, medical building or nursing home); or (3) a publicly habitable space adjacent to a subject use.
Subject uses alone are subject only to specific requirements for trash receptacles, perimeter fencing, lighting and enclosure and mechanical venting of uses that emit or generate dust, smoke, gas, fumes, or cinder or refuse matter. Given however that CUGU is in part driven by concern for business and industry uses very close to residences and other “publicly habitable spaces,” most CUGU use categories will be subject to additional specific requirements because they are considered adjacent to a publicly habitable space. These categories include “no idling” signs, fencing, minimum distances, building height, yard setback, landscaping (by a landscape practitioner), parking lot design, driveway width, noise limitations and materials storage.
Municipal buildings open to the public and within 1000 of a freeway are required to post signs warning of the health dangers of ultrafine particulates and other pollutants with 500 feet of a freeway.
For subject projects, no grading, shoring or building permits will be issued by the City Department of Building and Safety without a CUGU clearance, adjustment or exception. In addition, any violation of a condition imposed on the subject project by a zoning administrator, director of planning, the area planning commission, the city planning commission or the City Council constitutes a violation of the City Code.
While Ordinance 184246 does not include reference to an ombudsperson, discussion of the proposed ombudsperson can be found in the City Council File. For example, the November 20, 2015 Memorandum from the City Administrative Officer and the Chief Legislative Analyst to the members of the City’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee states as follows: As part of the FY 2015-16 Adopted Budget, the Mayor and Council authorized resolution authority and funding for an Environmental Affairs Officer, Class Code 7320, within the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation (BOS) to support and serve as the ombudsperson to the Clean Up Green Up Program.
The City has not yet appointed an ombudsperson for CUGU.
Many expect that the CUGU standards will be extended to other LA City communities. The new Ordinance sunsets on April 5, 2018.