SANDAG Litigation Update

November 19, 2013

From the office of BCF Public Affairs:

Last Fall, your organization joined more than 30 others throughout the state in signing onto an amicus brief in the lawsuit against the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) challenging their adoption of the state’s first Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) under SB 375. You’ll recall that several environmental groups and the Attorney General sued SANDAG. Though they all admitted SANDAG fully complied with SB 375, they sued nonetheless claiming the SCS and overall Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) violated CEQA.

The coalition amicus was filed in the trial court, which ultimately ruled in favor of the challengers, invalidating SANDAG’s plan on multiple fronts.

Briefing is now under way at the court of appeal, and we intend to file our amicus brief there. Significant statewide precedents hang in balance, including:

  • Application of the state’s so-called “2050 Standard” being an established standard for CEQA purposes. (The “2050 Standard” comes from a Schwarzenegger Executive Order)
  • Local land use control remaining with local agencies. The trial court had no hesitation imposing on SANDAG the obligation to FORCE compliance by local agencies via whatever means necessary, including withholding of local sales tax increment for transportation infrastructure. No part of existing law – including SB 375 – empowers regional government to overrule local land use decisions.
  • The lawsuit significantly jeopardizes the kinds of transit-oriented housing that SB 375 was intended to promote.
  • Systematic hijacking of the local decisions on transportation infrastructure spending.

We will be re-packaging the brief you’ve already signed onto for filing in the Court of Appeal case. We don’t anticipate major revisions, but we’ll confirm that with you after our lawyers dig back in and we recirculate the brief. We’re hopeful your organization will continue to support the effort

As for timing, the brief probably needs to be finalized and filed in the first week of December, so if you could keep an eye out for the follow-up email update and brief, and turn it around ASAP, we’d sure appreciate it!

If anyone has any questions, please let us know.

We very much appreciate your ongoing interest in and support of this important matter.