Save Our Chinatown Committee Celebrates Court Victory
March 28, 2012
Save Our Chinatown Committee
After nearly 3 ½ years of legal proceedings, the 4th Appellate District court has invalidated the approval of an office building project that threatened to destroy Riverside’s historic Chinatown. “We look forward to providing the City guidance during this process,” says Save Our Chinatown Committee (SOCC) Chair, M. Rosalind Sagara. “Together, we can find a way to protect the archaeological remains of Riverside’s historic Chinatown and we believe the best way of doing this is by developing a historic park at the site.”
The ruling, issued on March 21st, centered on the environmental impact report (EIR) and whether or not it complied with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state regulations protecting historic sites threatened with demolition.
A panel of three judges invalidated the EIR and the subsequent approval of the project having found that the City failed to consider reasonable alternatives to the proposed building plans and location. Also, it was decided that the EIR contained insufficient analysis for the City to consider accurately the environmental and cultural impacts of the proposed development. The Court of Appeal’s decision will cancel any construction permits issued based on that EIR. Any new EIR will require additional public review.
The Court of Appeal also reversed the Superior Court’s ruling that the sale of the property was improperly conducted. The Court of Appeal ruled that the Riverside County Office of Education is not technically a school district and therefore not subject to State Education Code’s rules for selling property. SOCC arguments that the RCBOE is subject to nearly identical rules in another state law were not considered by the Court of Appeal due to a timing issue. SOCC will monitor the agency’s actions regarding the historic property.
“It has been a long road,” said SOCC Board Member and archaeologist Dr. Margie Akin, “but we’re very pleased with the ruling. We share this victory with the many individuals, heritage groups, local preservationists, Chinese Americans throughout California and beyond, and archaeologists nationwide who believe this important cultural resource is worth fighting for.”
Nearly 50 people attended the Riverside County Board of Education (RCBE) meeting on November 10, 2010 to voice opposition to a land swap deal currently being considered by the RCBE. (Photo above)
The Save Our Chinatown Committee, students, educators, and residents came together to urge the Riverside County Board of Education (RCBE) to reject the proposed Chinatown land swap. Attendees also called for greater transparency on matters pertaining to Riverside’s historic Chinatown.
Representatives from Students for Chinatown, a UC Riverside student club, brought over 150 letters from local college students, which they delivered to Deputy Superintendent Paul Jessup following the meeting.
Due to the large number of letters, emails, and postcards received by the Riverside County Office of Education leading up to the meeting (including those delivered on November 10th), the RCBE postponed the vote on the land swap to a future undetermined date.
For more information about the proposed land swap: