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 pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, August 2, 2013

Comments to "Streetsblog Asks Metro Board to Waive Attorney Client-Privilege on Najarian’s 710 Big Dig Motion"



  • unclechumley
    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.

  • Avatar
    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.

    • calwatch Sylvia
      The Najarian motion only asked for the CEO to provide an accounting of what happened (http://boardarchives.metro.net... - which took place. http://media.metro.net/board/I... For Najarian to ask County Counsel if he is dissatisfied with the CEO's response goes beyond the scope of the original motion.

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        Sylvia calwatch
        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??

        • calwatch Sylvia
          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.

  • calwatch
    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 projects.
    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 required. http://boardarchives.metro.net... "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 for.
    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.

  • Vicki Kea
    Damien, you have hit the nail on the head! Thanks for the article and the letter to the Metro Board. Now we will see what they do with it.

  • Joe Cano
    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.

    • calwatch Joe Cano
      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.

  • misshavisham
    Go Damien! Go LA.Streetsblog.org !!!

  • J. SooHoo
    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.

  • Juan Matute