State Sen. Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) has introduced a bill to prohibit land uses that may significantly worsen local environmental quality or adversely impact health outcomes from being located or expanded within disadvantaged communities.

Sponsored by Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, SB 499 would ban the most harmful land uses from being frequently located in California’s most disadvantaged communities and neighborhoods, Leyva said in a news release.

Leyva, whose district includes Fontana, said that by limiting or stopping these facilities from being permitted in the first place, SB 499 can ensure more equitable access to clean air and water -- and better health outcomes -- for California residents.

“As the author of important legislation in 2016 that now requires the development of an Environmental Justice element in General Plans, I am proud to introduce SB 499 today which will ensure that disadvantaged communities no longer bear a disproportionate burden of pollution and environmental hazards,” Leyva said. “It is unacceptable that residents in disadvantaged communities -- including in the 20th State Senate District and the Inland Empire -- suffer higher rates of asthma, birth defects and cancer precisely because of land use decisions that largely disregard the needs and impacts to those communities.”

Leyva said that for too long, cities and counties have approved permits for facilities that residents strongly oppose, prioritizing economic advancement over community and environmental health.

California has made significant strides in cleaning the environment and air quality, but in spite of those many successes, stronger and bolder laws like SB 499 are needed, Leyva said.

When asked whether this legislation would specifically address proposed warehouses, Sergio Reyes, the communications director for Leyva, said: "The intent of SB 499 is to reduce or stop the permitting of the most toxic and polluting land uses from being located in our most disadvantaged communities. Those specific land uses are still under discussion, and Senator Leyva looks forward to engaging with stakeholders on this issue."

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