To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at email@example.com
Friday, August 2, 2013
Comments to "Streetsblog Asks Metro Board to Waive Attorney Client-Privilege on Najarian’s 710 Big Dig Motion"
It never ceases to amaze me the
lengths Metro goes through to keep information from the public beginning
with not informing property owners adjacent to alternative routes of
their plans. This is a multi-billion dollar project but major aspects
are unknown to all but a few. Antonovich said that everybody knows that
Caltrans is in charge per a previous meeting. But his comment misses the
point: all of the assumptions including the relationship between
Caltrans and Metro should be documented as a matter of public record. We
have a right to know.
I agree with Damien Newton. If
Metro is doing things by the book and has nothing to hide then release
the memo to the general public.
Your links make no sense. This
was Najarian's motion: Item # 60: RECEIVE response to Najarian Motion
regarding Caltrans and MTA’s roles and responsibilities as it relates to
the 710 North EIR/EIS. What is Metro hiding??
Item #70 was Najarian's original
motion. He got the answer to it at the April meeting. But, Najarian
wasn't happy with the answer and wanted County Counsel to answer his
questions in open session. Counsel refused to do so without the
permission of the rest of the board.
"That the item even appeared on the agenda is almost completely due
to Najarian’s vigilance. Last Friday’s draft agenda didn’t include
discussion of his April motion, despite a request that it be returned in
90 days, and he had to push just to get it discussed at all." This
is facially incorrect. The Najarian motion from April asked for a
response from the CEO, which he got (the handout linked above). As you
can see from Item #70 he didn't ask for it in 90 days - in fact the CEO
gave him the answer at the meeting in the form of that handout memo.
I don't really buy this argument
since I am familiar with the EIR process. Look, entities pay for EIRs
all the time. In fact, most private developers pay for EIRs for their
private development projects. That doesn't mean the private developer is
the "lead agency" for the project.
Per this handout - http://boardarchives.metro.net...
- it is not incompatible for one organization to fund the EIR and the
project, while the other acts as the "lead agency" certifying the EIR.
Metro is simply the funding agency, like how the stadium developers
funded the EIR for their project. Caltrans is the lead agency for CEQA.
If the adopted alternative is, for example, BRT, and Metro decides not
to fund it, there is no project. Similar, Metro could redirect funds
from the tunnel to the BRT alternative, while Caltrans could certify the
tunnel as the environmentally superior alternative. Then unless
Caltrans affirmatively moves to BRT there is no project.
County Counsel is a black box which, like most attorneys, refuses to
share its opinions with anyone, much less the general public. Only the
Chair of the Board, or a majority of the Board, can direct Counsel to
share their pinion. The default position is not to give anyone any
ammunition, not just for this project, but potentially for future
As noted, the CH2M Hill agreement covers the environmental work, and
although Metro is paying the tab, Caltrans had input in its selection. http://boardarchives.metro.net...
So the question is, is there a partnering or cooperative agreement
between Caltrans and Metro. There probably is a funding agreement - This
Board action delegated authority to the CEO to execute a funding
agreement with Caltrans. No Metro Board action would have then been
"Authorize the Chief Executive Officer to execute a Funding Agreement
with Caltrans and others should additional funds become available." Much
like a private developer Metro is also paying for Caltrans' time. This
agreement would also be public record, provided you know what to ask
So overall it is an esoteric piece of environmental regulation, but
it has been explained in past, publicly available Metro documents. The
process is not significantly different from other public or private
projects on other agencies' right of way, where the project proponent
pays the "lead agency" for their time and hires someone to do the EIR at
the lead agency's behest.
From what we have seen so far, it
appears SR 710 project manager Michelle Smith & her boss Doug
Failing are playing hide & seek with the truth. I have Michelle
Smith on video making statements that Metro has hired CH2M HIll to draft
the EIR & Mike Antonovich stating that the deciding authority is
Caltrans on the 710 project. Based on state code quoted by Mr. Newton
this is a clear violation of state law. Michelle Smith & Doug
Failing would not be so smug if they were facing jail time for lying to
the public & misuse of public funds.
That is absolutely correct -
Metro is paying the bill while Caltrans is the -lead agency. There is
no violation of law. The most recent large project example is the
Industry Stadium. The developers (Majestic) paid for the EIR, and the
consultant was selected mutually between Majestic and the City of
Industry. The City, however, remained the lead agency for the project.
Here is a sample from a freeway interchange project in Fresno - http://www.fresno.gov/NR/rdonl... - note clearly the divisions in roles in the environmental ("PA/ED") phase.
What is probably in the funding agreement is some indemnification
language which requires Metro to pay Caltrans for all its legal costs.
These agreements are fairly standard, although one should probably
obtain the Metro-Caltrans agreement for whatever language is there.
Thank you for covering this,
Damien. In the past 2 weeks, at 4 different Metro-sponsored meetings,
we have heard 3 versions of the answers to these questions from Metro
staff. It is clear that confusion reigns and that the agencies involved
are not even cognizant of the regulatory code you cite.