Friday, April 29, 2011

A new legal brief filed against the California High-Speed Rail Authority

As many of you know, there have been several lawsuits filed in California against the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Some of these confront the unacceptable manipulation of the CEQA process; that is, the California Environmental Quality Act, which all projects such as high-speed rail must follow, present to the public for review, and certify before construction can commence.

A prior lawsuit, filed by several organizations and towns on the Bay Area Peninsula, was reviewed by the court, and one aspect of that suit was called into question, requiring the rail authority to do over that portion of the Environmental Impact Report .  Since then, additional questionable aspects of rail authority failings in the EIS/EIR process, not included in that earlier suit, have been filed, including a brief that was filed on the 25th of April.

Below is a brief overview of those actions provided on their web-site by one of the plaintiff organizations, The Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF).  There's a lot of legalese here, but basically the rail authority continues to fall short in its legal obligations under the state's CEQA laws.

It is important to recognize that, whether one supports the high-speed rail project in California or not, the rail authority's management has been under investigation and criticism by a number of governmental agencies since before legislation authorized them into existence.  There has been flagrant "waste, fraud and abuse." There has been a never ending series of illegalities that citizen groups and cities have had to bring to the attention of the courts via lawsuits.

There will be many others.  It is our duty as citizens to hold our government accountable for their actions.

Repeat after me: "Sue the Bastards!"

Briefs filed in HSR Challenge

Filed in: High-Speed Rail

Briefing has commenced in the challenge to the EIR for the High-Speed Rail connection between the Bay Area and the Central Valley. Plaintiffs filed their Opening Briefs today. The case has been divided into two parts: Atherton I is a continuation of the challenge to the 2008 EIR by the Town of Atherton, the City of Menlo Park, the Planning and Conservation League, the California Rail Foundation, and the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF). 

Atherton II is a new lawsuit challenging the legality of the revised EIR by the City of Palo Alto, the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail, Mid-Peninsula Residents for Civic Sanity, and Pat Giorni. The current schedule is that the two cases will be heard together on August 12 in Sacramento. The briefs are available here: 

Atherton I 
Atherton I (Declaration of Elizabeth Alexis) 
Atherton II 
Atherton II (CC-HSR)

The principal contentions in the briefs are: 

•The project description was inadequate in failing to properly address the newly-discovered inaccuracy of previously-published modeling of the project and alternatives and failing to provide reliable information on ridership and revenue for the Project and alternatives;

•The Revised EIR failed to acknowledge significant or significantly increased traffic, noise, vibrational, air quality, visual, and blight-inducing impacts caused by changes to the Project since certification of the prior FPEIR;

•Respondent truncated the range of comments it was willing to respond to;

•The Revised EIR failed to respond adequately to comments received on the Revised DEIR;

•The Revised EIR failed to adequately evaluate a feasible new alternative that would have substantially reduced or avoided significant Project impacts, but which the Project sponsor refused to either seriously consider or adopt;

•Respondent failed to recirculate the Revised EIR in response to the above new information;

•Respondent adopted inadequate findings in re-approving the Project. The findings were not supported by substantial evidence in the record.

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