HSR Litigation, Round 2 Appeal
On October 15, 2012, Atherton I and Atherton II petitioners filed their Opening Appellate Brief, which raised the following issues:
- The impacts of elevated structures in several Peninsula communities should have been analyzed in the RFPEIR.
- There was no evidence to justify the “analyst’s opinion” that supported a controversial element of the ridership model.
- The RFPEIR’s treatment of the Setec Alternative submitted by Atherton litigants was inadequate.
After the case was fully briefed and scheduled for oral argument, the CHSRA sent a letter to the Court, indicating that the Surface Transportation Board had asserted jurisdiction over California’s HSR project. They raised the question of whether this affects the appeal, due to the federal preemption of state environmental regulations like CEQA. After Petitioners responded with this letter, the Court ordered briefing on the subject.
The Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability filed an amicus brief, which was joined by many environmental organizations and a former Attorney General.
The CHSRA filed this Answer to the CCHSRA amicus brief.
Oral Argument at the Court of Appeal was held on May 20, 2014.
This case is significant, in that a victory for Appellants could invalidate the ridership model, which is the foundation of all the EIRs the CHSRA will rely on for its Central Valley project. It could also force a whole new EIR, which would review the alternative of an Altamont Corridor in a less-biased manner.
The Court of Appeal issued a ruling on July 24, 2014 that held that federal preemption did not apply to a State-owned rail project. It also upheld the lower court’s decision on the three issues that petitioners had appealed.
Request for Depublication
Not wanting to appeal but also not wanting to leave this issue alone, the Attorney General, representing CHSRA filed a Request to the Supreme Court on September 22, 2014, asking it to depublish the Court of Appeal ruling because of its holding on federal preemption. Depublishing means a ruling cannot be cited as precedent. Tagging along, Caltrans and the North County Transit District filed letters in support.
The Atherton petitioners filed this Opposition.
The Supreme Court denied the request for depublication.