Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Herrera's bullying tactic loses again


Like the punitive cost $52,000 cost claim they tried unsuccessfully to collect from us in the Bicycle Plan litigation, last week Judge Sullivan threw out the city's $64,144.29 cost claim in another CEQA case, the Market and Octavia Plan litigation. That means the city is batting zero for two when its bullying tactic against CEQA litigants is challenged in court.

Four years ago the City Attorney pounced gleefully on a court decision (St. Vincent's School for Boys v. City of San Rafael) that it thought would allow the city to collect costs on CEQA cases for preparing administrative records, even when petitioners elect to prepare it themselves to save money, which is their right under CEQA. Making cost claims against public interest litigants---even threatening to make such claims---of course has an intimdating, deterrent effect on future CEQA litigants---neighborhood and environmental groups fighting developers and/or cities like San Francisco for failing to follow the law on proposed projects that threaten the environment.

Turns out that the city's interpretation of St. Vincent's was nothing but wishful thinking, since that case involved special circumstances. In the Market and Octavia cost claim, the city even tried to get thousands of dollars for retrieving documents that both the Public Records Act and the Sunshine Ordinance require the city to provide for, at most, ten cents a page! Getting copies of public documents was like pulling teeth in both cases.

Reviewing Dennis Herrera's record: First, he now says he advised the city in the beginning to do an EIR on the Bicycle Plan, but his advice was ignored by the mayor and the board of supervisors. For years he then aggressively pursued the Bicycle Plan litigation that he knew was likely to be unsuccessful, apparently for political reasons. You can't get elected mayor by antagonizing city progs, especially the bike people. On top of aggressively pursuing the litigation, he tried three times unsuccessfully to get the injunction lifted even as the city was working on the court-ordered EIR on the Plan, capping off his unprincipled behavior with a bogus $52,000 cost claim against us that Judge Kahn threw out two months ago.

How did San Francisco's "progressivepolitical community react to the City Attorney's unprincipled behavior? We were pilloried for delaying the "improvements" promised by the Bicycle Plan and for upholding an important state environmental law. But there was only silence on the punitive $52,000 cost claim.

The good, green people of Progressive Land don't let the law or ethics get in the way of their PC agenda.

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