California Supreme Court rules in favor of Expo Line Construction Authority in lawsuit against project's environmental study

Neighbors for Smart Rail ruling

The California Supreme Court issued its opinion on Monday on a long-running lawsuit brought by Neighbors for Smart Rail against the second phase of the Expo Line. Neighbors for Smart Rail had alleged that the environmental study for the project was insufficient in two regards. On those points:

1. The Supreme Court found that the Expo Construction Authority sufficiently studied the effects of spillover parking near stations.

2. The Supreme Court also concluded that transportation agencies have discretion under certain circumstances to measure the significance of a project’s traffic and air quality impacts against future conditions (the Expo Line study used conditions as they were expected to be in 2030).

While the Court indicated that the Expo Authority should have also measured the significance of the Expo Line’s traffic and air quality impacts against conditions in 2015 — when the project was expected to be complete — the Court concluded that this was an “insubstantial” technical error and that technical error did not preclude informed decision-making about the project’s impacts and public participation regarding the Expo Project.

As a result, the Expo Line Construction Authority does not have to redo any part of its environmental study for the project and construction work may continue to proceed. The 6.6-mile project is extending the Expo Line light rail from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica and is funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

8 replies

  1. A couple years ago, I read that Metro was going to seek legal fees from NFSR should that group lose. I hope this is the case. Frivolous challenges are costing the public tens of millions.

  2. Steve – does the NFSR group have to pay for Metro and Expo’s legal fees?

    • Hi Dr. M;

      I do not believe so but I’ll ask around. While three of the justices found the EIR fully complied with the law, others indicated there were issues — but ultimately found that no harm was done to the study or public process.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. One legal mess down, how many more to go? It no wonder everything takes so long to build and has excessive costs not even related to the project.

  4. I don’t like the idea waah-waah-waah. It’s the same with everything from Beverly Hills, Expo II, Regional Connector, gate latching, you name it. Crybabies and whiners are everywhere and they ruin everything for everyone. If they don’t like how things are going and would rather love to stick to their old ways, why don’t these people move out of LA to Arizona? Life would be so much easier for everyone if all these Republicants move to McCainland.

  5. This might be a problem for some other CEQA challenges, no? I’m assuming the future baselines weren’t just used for Expo, so there might be some EIRs where it’s not harmless and they’ll have to be done again.

  6. Hopefully construction hasn’t already been delayed by these people. Now the case with Beverly hills high has to be settled.