Wilk introduces measure to allow additional layer of public input on large projects

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, has introduced Senate Bill 520 (SB 520). Coauthored by Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares (R-Santa Clarita), the measure would give the public a second opportunity to weigh in on large projects approved more than 30 years ago before those projects can move forward. The CEMEX mega-mine in the Santa Clarita Valley is an example of a project to which this bill would apply.

“A lot can happen in 30 years, and a large project that was initially approved in the 1990s may no longer be the right fit for a community in 2021.  The public deserves an opportunity for review. In our community, the CEMEX mega-mine is one such project that I believe the public has a right to weigh in on before it moves forward,” said Wilk. “Giving the public the ability to make its case for or against such projects after decades of inactivity should be part of the process.”

“Our families deserve to have a voice in major projects that will impact our community. What looked promising back in 1990 may not be what is best for our families today, and they must have their voices heard,” said Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares.

SB 520 is a reintroduction of SB 797 from last session, which did not receive a hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would reopen the public protest period on a State Water Resources Control Board water permit application when a decision has not been made within 30 years of the application’s original filing date. Currently, the Water Board can opt to reopen a protest period, but this bill would require that it does so after such a long period of time.

“SB 520 will allow community members and locally elected officials the opportunity to make a case to state regulators as to why such major projects, such as the CEMEX mega-mine, would be disastrous to their communities,” said Wilk.

SB 520 will be referred to the appropriate Senate policy committees for hearings in the coming months.