Penske Sues Sacramento Over Environmental Plan

Company Alleges City Violated California’s Environmental Quality Act
Penske rental truck
A Penske Truck Leasing rental truck. (Penske Truck Leasing)

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Penske Truck Leasing Co. has sued the city of Sacramento, Calif., alleging the city's environmental plan will harm the company's large North Sacramento facility.

The 11-acre facility has been used for truck rental, maintenance and collision repair for over 20 years, according to the lawsuit filed last week in Sacramento Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleged when the city in February adopted its 2040 General Plan, it violated part of the California Environmental Quality Act, partly by not giving Penske proper notice that it was considering changes that could impact Penske’s property.

That state law requires government agencies to inform the public about potential environmental impacts of proposed projects, and is often cited in lawsuits.

In preparation of plan adoption, in 2019, the city published notices regarding the upcoming general plan but did not send Penske a copy, the lawsuit alleges. That meant Penske could not participate in any stakeholder meetings.

Then in September 2023, Penske learned from its real estate agent that a City Council committee was also considering adopting a truck usage ordinance in just eight days, the lawsuit alleged.

That meeting, a Law and Legislation Committee meeting in October, included a city staff report that said the committee would indeed consider an ordinance, suggested by then-Councilman Sean Loloee. The ordinance would allow city officials to more strictly review new trucking businesses planning to open near neighborhoods, due to pollution and noise concerns.

“Staff researched the development permit trends in North Sacramento for the prior five years and discovered a concerning trend potentially at odds with draft 2040 General Plan policies relating to environmental justice,” the staff report stated. “The trend concerns an increase in businesses reliant on commercial trailer and truck usage and which are located adjacent to existing residences and requiring circulation along substandard roadways (e.g., lacking sidewalks) and/or through residential neighborhoods.”

The staff report for the October meeting also said it would consider changing zoning for new and existing industrial and manufacturing developments “to minimize or avoid adverse effects related to air quality, noise or safety on sensitive populations in disadvantaged communities and other areas of the city where industrial and manufacturing uses are near residential uses, such as the Robla neighborhood.”


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The committee voted to send the item to the full council for consideration, but it has not yet been heard. Loloee, who represented the area of the Penske facility, has since resigned from the council amid a federal criminal indictment.

In addition, Penske learned that the 2040 General Plan would re-designate the Penske facility to “Employment Mixed Use,” which is an entirely new land designation that does not allow manufacturing and industrial uses, the lawsuit alleged.

Penske asked the city to correct what it considered to be errors in the general plan, but instead the council approved it in February, the lawsuit alleged. It seeks for the city to undo its approval of the general plan and Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which was approved at the same time.

The lawsuit alleges the city violated the state’s Environmental Quality Act, violated state planning and zoning laws, and violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment regarding the taking of private property by governments.

“Instead of partnering with Penske and other industrial transportation companies in achieving these important, state-mandated emissions reduction goals, the city has taken steps to broadly curtail and ultimately eliminate transport-related uses within its jurisdiction,” the lawsuit stated.

“The city of Sacramento has received the complaint filed by the Penske Truck Leasing Company and is in the process of evaluating it and determining the appropriate next steps,” said city spokesman Tim Swanson.

Penske has slated its Penske Facility for a zero-emission transition in accordance with the state’s carbon neutrality laws and executive orders, the lawsuit alleges.

Penske Logistics ranks No. 15 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America, and No. 21 on TT’s Top 100 list of the largest logistics companies.

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