Nov 2011

Court Rules Again Against HSRA

On Thursday, November 10, Judge Michael Kenny of the Sacramento Superior Court released a pair of decisions 38 and 40 pages long, invalidating the Environmental Impact Report for the Central Valley to Bay Area section of the California High-Speed Rail project--for the second time. The Judge found that the California High-Speed Rail Authority had failed to adequately address a series of challenges raised by the Petitioners, comprised of the Town of Atherton, the City of Menlo Park, the City of Palo Alto, the California Rail Foundation, the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, the Planning and Conservation League, Patricia Giorni and the Mid-Peninsula Residents for Civic Sanity.

The court found that the project’s Revised Environmental Impact Report had failed to discuss significant impacts, failed to consider information from the Authority’s parallel project-level studies, and failed to recirculate the document for public comments.

For the second time, the Court ordered the Authority to rescind its approvals selecting the Pacheco Pass alignment and its certification of the associated Revised Final Environmental Impact Report.

Gary Patton, co-counsel, stated that "The court's decision tells the California High-Speed Rail Authority that it can't keep ignoring the public's right to participate. The court's decision in the Atherton II case says that the Authority failed in its duty to recirculate the CEQA document to get public comments, and this was a violation of the law.”

Richard Tolmach, President of the California Rail Foundation, declared that “Twice in a row, the Authority ignored the requirements of environmental law. The Judge found they still have not done a proper study.”

Stuart Flashman, lead counsel, stated that “In rejecting the EIR, the Court has upheld the principle that significant project impacts cannot be swept under the rug for later consideration, after the key decisions have already been made.”

Because the EIR challenge was divided procedurally into two parts, there are two decisions:
Atherton I and Atherton II.