ORANGE COUNTY, CA-An environmental group has filed a lawsuit aimed at overturning the Irvine City Council’s recent move that clears the way for a 10.2-million-sf expansion of the sprawling Irvine Spectrum office complex.

The lawsuit was filed by Newport Beach-based Defend the Bay. The suit alleges that the environmental studies performed by Irvine city officials failed to properly evaluate the proposed expansion’s impact on water quality, traffic, air quality and public services.

The suit also says the city failed to consider the impact such a massive expansion would have on the local energy market at a time when Orange County has already been subjected to sporadic blackouts. “This project shouldn’t be built at all,” says Bob Caustin, Defend the Bay’s director.

The Irvine Co., Orange County’s largest developer and landowner, wants to build the 10.2 million sf of office and biotech space on more than 60 acres of agricultural and industrial land near the existing Spectrum. Last month, the Irvine City Council approved the environmental studies as well as Irvine Co.’s request to re-zone the land for the expansion.

The lawsuit was filed in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. Irvine City Councilman Greg Smith, one of the council members who approved the environmental report and rezoning request, calls the new suit “pretty groundless” and says the city has been at the forefront of efforts to control traffic, protect the environment and conserve energy.

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