The California Supreme Court announced yesterday that the Petition for Review of Neighbors for Smart Rail (NFSR) v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (Expo) has been granted.
Two critical issues are central to NFSR’s complaint: First, contrary to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) law which states that a proper baseline to evaluate project impacts is the existing environment, the Expo Authority contends that studying hypothetical projected traffic conditions 20 years in the future is sufficient. NFSR disagrees. We believe that, consistent with previous Supreme Court rulings, “existing” can only mean that which currently exists.
Second, NFSR agrees with CEQA that proper mitigation for project impacts must be specific and enforceable. Expo maintains that their agreement to work towards mitigating impacts is good enough. This is similar to claiming that promising to pay someone back is the same as actually paying them back. State law requires that when mitigation is accepted, it must be implemented. On Phase 2, for example, Expo admitted their project will cause parking problems around stations but failed to specify any remedy, the potential costs, or whether, in fact, any mitigation at all would be effective or feasible. When people’s homes, security, and safety are involved, this is unacceptable.
Additionally NFSR strongly believes that, among other things, Expo did not properly study traffic impacts or emergency response delays related to the proposed new rail line.
Terri Tippit, President of NFSR and the West of Westwood HOA said: “NFSR is gratified by the Court’s decision to review these very important issues. Blocking Overland and Westwood 24 times per hour will have a devastating impact on traffic and public safety, and all evidence shows that Expo didn’t study it as required.”
Mike Eveloff, NFSR board member and President of the Tract 7260 Association said “Our case deals with fundamental aspects of how the State’s environmental laws will be applied. This decision will impact every environmental impact report for every project proposed within the State. We thank the Court for the opportunity to be heard.”
NFSR is represented by John Bowman of Elkins, Kalt, Weintraub, Reuben, Gartside in Century City.
Drew DeAscentis, NFSR board member and President of Westwood Gardens Civic Association said: “We really want to thank our lawyer John Bowman for his outstanding work in getting our case accepted by the Supreme Court. We look forward to working with John to convince the Court on the merits of our case.”