What should the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) take into account as it begins the environmental review for its new Richmond Bay Campus? Wildlife and birds? Noise pollution and new traffic? These are question for Richmond residents, who have until February 4 to make suggestions.
Last January, LBNL chose Richmond as the preferred site for its second campus, which will consolidate several bioscience facilities now scattered throughout the region. Richmond aggressively sought the lab–which city officials hope will be an economic engine for the city–and won out over five other Bay Area cities. Development is slated to begin in 2014 at the earliest.
Earlier this month, LBNL began the scoping process for the new campus, during which it will decide what to include in the project’s Environmental Impact Report. The EIR will list the development’s potential environmental effects, covering everything from air and water quality to land use and light pollution. It will then propose strategies to mitigate those impacts. The public comment period on the scoping process offers residents the chance to weigh in on what the EIR should consider.
“Before we write the analysis, we go to the public and say, ‘What do you think should be in the analysis?’” said Sam Chapman, the lab’s manager of state and community relations.
The EIR will cover the lab’s Long Range Development Plan, which lays out a vision for the site through 2050, as well as the more immediate Phase I, which covers construction through 2018.
Residents can find the Notice of Preparation online—a 35-page document that lists all of the topics the lab plans to cover in the EIR. Anyone who wants to suggest additions or changes can comment online, via mail, or at a public meeting in City Council chambers on January 23. The public comment period ends February 4.
The lab’s staff hope to have a draft EIR ready by the end of spring, at which point the public will be invited to weigh in again.
At a meeting of LBNL’s Community Advisory Group on Monday night, member Elizabeth Stage, a Berkeley resident and Director of the Lawrence Hall of Science, said she was impressed by how thorough the draft scoping document is. “It looks like they’re trying to make the space better and more sustainable and for the future,” she said, adding that the document’s focus on issues “related to shoreline, marshland, open space, and anticipating water level rise … makes it a forward-looking plan.”
Plus, she said, the draft has that rarest quality among environmental review documents: “It’s readable.”