Monday, November 26, 2012

Scott Wiener, WalMart, and the Bicycle Coalition

Ron Raedle for Getty Images

Pretty good piece by Tim Redmond in the Bay Guardian on Supervisor Wiener's latest attempt to curtail the rights of the people of San Francisco. Redmond accurately calls Wiener's proposal "a developers wet dream."

Interesting that Redmond doesn't mention the two examples Wiener has provided in the past on the problem he's supposedly addressing: 

Wiener cited the North Beach Library project and the city's bicycle plan as two popular projects that have been subject to long delays by late appeals involving environmental review.

That's a lie. There was nothing "late" about our appeal of the Bicycle Plan, since our lawyer was careful to meet all deadlines. Wiener wants to make those deadlines so tight that it would make it much more difficult to appeal any project okayed by City Hall.

In 2005 the Planning Commission---which included Christina Olague---unanimously passed the Bicycle Plan's Framework Document. We appealed that decision to the Board of Supervisors, which then scheduled a hearing of our appeal. There was no issue about the appeal being late.

Last year Wiener proposed allowing the Board of Supervisors to essentially overrule initiatives passed by city voters, and now he wants to limit the public's right to challenge City Hall projects under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Like his misguided attempt to gut our initiative rights, Wiener can't come up with any convincing examples of the problem he's supposedly addressing with his anti-CEQA legislation. (The proposal is item #21 on the Planning Commission's agenda this week.)

Wiener and the Bicycle Coalition find themselves in bed with WalMart, which also doesn't like to comply with CEQA when it wants to open a new store. If City Hall okays a WalMart or some other box store in San Francisco, Wiener's legislation would make it more difficult to appeal that decision.

Like Supervisor Wiener, the Bicycle Coalition has been consistently stupid and/or dishonest about CEQA:

Judge Busch acknowledged that the suit was not a matter of "bikes vs. cars" but rather a narrow question of process under CEQA (the state environmental review law)---whether the Bike Plan, adopted unanimously last June by the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Newsom, has the potential to cause significant environmental impacts...(Sept. 2006).

Whether a project "has the potential" to impact the environment is not "a narrow question" under CEQA; it's the essence of the law. If a project even might have a negative impact on the environment, a developer or a jurisdiction must conduct an environmental review before it can be implemented.

Like WalMart and other special interests, the Bicycle Coalition thinks it shouldn't have to comply with "California’s preeminent environmental law."

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