Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The city that knows how...

Chris Roberts in the SF Weekly (The City That Knows How To Get Sued):

It's up to City Attorney Dennis Herrera to warn the mayor and the Board of Supervisors when legislation will land them in court — and it's up to Herrera's office to do the legal lifting in court, as it did when landlords sued to overturn new tenant-friendly eviction protections last year (the landlords won). There's no official count on how many local laws have been challenged in court, overturned by a judge, or simply abandoned when they proved unenforceable — although the city's issuance of gay marriage licenses, the effort to force cell phone manufacturers to post warnings that phone radiation can cause brain cancer, and a ban on advertising soda on city property are an example of each, respectively. Despite those setbacks, local lawmakers have yet to appear shy.

Add the Bicycle Plan to the list of the city's losing litigation. Recall that we warned the city early on that making the ambitious plan part of the General Plan and implementing it on the streets of the city without any environmental review was illegal (see this, this, and this).

We were ignored and dismissed with contempt by both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors; both rejected our appeals unanimously.

Later we learned that City Attorney Herrera privately agreed with us, though his staff at our appeal hearing before the supervisors lied about the legality of what the city was doing. He and his staff had their marching orders from the mayor and the Board of Supervisors, and in court the city continued to pretend that the two-volume, 500-page Bicycle Plan was exempt from CEQA.

Judge Busch brushed aside the city's lies with his 2006 decision.

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