~ PEER ~
September 30, 2022—Agoura Hills, California—Recently formed Neighborhood group PEER (Protect Our Emergency Evacuation Routes) has filed suit against the City of Agoura Hills and the Agoura Hills City Council on the grounds that the City failed to meaningfully consider and analyze the potential significant impacts to emergency response and evacuation and wildfire risks associated with its approval of a General Plan Update and several related zoning amendments on August 10, 2022.
PEER includes residents from Old Agoura, Agoura Hills, and Oak Park who are concerned that in the event of an emergency such as a wildfire, drastic increases in residential density along already congested thoroughfares, including Kanan Road and Driver Avenue, will lead to catastrophic delays for residents of the City and neighboring communities who depend on these roads for evacuation. During the Woolsey Fire in November 2018, traffic reached a standstill on key evacuation routes in and around the City, endangering people and animals attempting to flee. PEER’s members share the common belief that the City can and should meet its new housing needs without compromising public safety.
Much of Agoura Hills is located in a “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.” The City has a duty to protect its residents, both current and future, from natural disasters, including wildfires. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other state laws require the City to publicly disclose—and attempt to lessen through mitigation or selection of alternative sites—impacts to emergency response and evacuation as well as wildfire risk before approving updates to their General Plan. The City, however, abrogated this responsibility when it adopted an environmental impact report (EIR) for the General Plan Update that concluded—without conducting any meaningful analysis—that the residential zoning changes and the concomitant increase in population density could have no impact on emergency response or evacuation “because no emergency response or evacuation plans have been adopted for the City.”
Not willing to stand idly by as substantial additional residential density under the revised General Plan puts people’s lives in danger, on September 12, 2022, PEER’s attorney Babak Naficy filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court to set aside the City’s adoption of the revised General Plan and force the City to analyze emergency and wildfire impacts and consider mitigations and alternatives that would reduce the severity of those impacts.