Article from: Scott Sommer, Environmental Lawyer, Former Member Lafayette School Board
The Yes campaign has been using an email from an Environmental Planner at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), Alison Kirk, sent Tuesday May 29 at 4 pm, as a purported vindication of air quality for the public areas at Deer Hill that would be purchased under Measure L by the City at a cost of $3M plus 50% of cost overruns and a cancellation of developer fees. There is even a Nextdoor post from a supporter of Yes claiming “According to BAAQM [sic], Deer Hill Site is Safe for Children”, citing an EBT article referring to that email and the email itself, neither of which said the site is “safe”.
So Susan Candell and I followed up with that planner, and her supervisor, David Vintze, Manager, Planning and Climate Protection at BAAQMD. Here’s what we found out:
ALTERED PROJECT DESCRIPTION. BAAQMD’s May 2016 Planning Healthy Places manual has a map with purple zones along freeways and major traffic corridors that are marked as areas of elevated air pollution and for application of “Best Practices to Reduce Exposure to Local Air Pollution”. This includes: “plan sensitive land uses farther from localized air pollution sources…one of the most effective health protective strategies that can be implemented to protect children and other vulnerable populations from the harmful effects of air pollution.”
It has been pointed out that part of the public areas on the site plans in the Homes EIR and for Ordinance 641 are in that purple zone along Pleasant Hill Road (PHR). The developer consultant’s report dated April 2018 included that EIR plan, and drew a dashed line starting at the trail about 50 feet in from PHR encompassing most of that public area, referring to it the “Project Description” on p.3 and Fig. 1. That description overlaps with the BAAQMD’s purple zone.
However, later in May, after that April 2018 report was criticized, the developer’s consultant sent a DIFFERENT diagram to BAAQMD, editing out all public areas in the purple zone and presenting two boxes purportedly 225 feet from PHR as the “Project” (we also believe the distances are exaggerated). The public areas between PHR and the boxes were NOT shown or referenced. Ms. Kirk did not notice the deletion, and was therefore induced to state in her email that “the Project is ADJACENT to areas recommended for ‘Best Practices’ and ‘Further Study’” (emphasis in original).
Anyone looking at the public areas on the actual site plan in the EIR can compare and see the deletion. Now that Ms. Kirk and Mr. Vintze are aware of the deletion, BAAQMD has changed its position to “Yes” the “public areas depicted on the EIR project description…include areas recommended for ‘Best Practices’ in BAAQMD’s Planning Healthy Places and is in the purple zone on the PHP online maps”. That corrects the second half of the 5/29 email the developer obtained by not showing the public areas within the purple zone to Ms. Kirk.