May 2013

Historic Court Hearing on May 31

Department 31 of Sacramento Superior Court will be the location of the oral argument scheduled for 9 am on Friday, May 31, 2013 in the case Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority. The Tos plaintiffs, two farmers and Kings County, are asking the Court to declare that the Authority has failed to meet the statutory requirements of Proposition 1A.

Two out of ten claims asserted by the plaintiffs will be argued on Friday, with the balance to be considered after a decision is issued. Plaintiffs assert the Authority’s Funding Plan failed to validly certify that for the Merced to San Fernando Valley segment of the project, all environmental clearances had been completed and that sufficient funding sources to complete the segment had been identified.

Proposition 1A included an elaborate set of requirements to protect taxpayers from having to pay for a money-losing unfinished project. By ignoring the statutory requirements, the Authority has set in motion a project likely to become incomplete and stranded.

The case carries great consequence for the High-Speed Rail project. If the Court rules the Authority did not comply with the Proposition, the next step would be to invalidate the Funding Plan and the appropriation. That would block the expenditure of high-speed rail bond funds and bring the $8 billion project currently being pursued by the Authority to an abrupt halt.

Click here for access to all the briefs filed in the case.

A ruling is expected within 90 days.

An Excellent Overview of Regional Planning

Environmental advocate Peter Lydon wrote these comments on MTC’s Plan Bay Area, which capture the essence of regional planning:


Independently of anything the regional agencies do, the nine-county Bay Area is growing in population and getting wealthier, so, inevitably, it is changing. That means that the region is in transition. The aspect that concerns us is a needed transition from the present land use/mobility system to a new one.

The old, existing system is based on the single-family house, the personal automobile and the freeway. It handles growth mainly through outward spatial diffusion, or sprawl. It has grown up over decades, and has become our thoroughly familiar environment. We have all deeply adapted to it. It is individualistic, and not egalitarian. Growing up in times of economic success and prosperity, it offers what people believe is freedom. Therefore, on the basis of inertia alone, the traditional layout has support from the very large share of the population (and public and private administrative structures) that are comfortable in it and who want to preserve what is known and good.

TRANSDEF Comments on Plan Bay Area

TRANSDEF filed comments on the Bay Area’s Draft Sustainable Communities Strategy today. By a fascinating coincidence, U.S. PIRG released its study today, called A New Direction, which is directly relevant to how to approach a regional transportation plan. This study points out the transportation planning consequences of the emerging pattern of millennials driving less. These documents are available here.