Thursday, May 21, 2020

Notice of appeal of bogus emergency anti-car projects

Jeffrey Tumlin: Director of Transportation

Mary Miles
Attorney at Law
for Coalition for Adequate Review
(SB #230395)
San Francisco, CA 94102 
(415) 863-2310 

Angela Calvillo, Clerk 
San Francisco Board of Supervisors 
City Hall, Room 244 
San Francisco, CA 94102 

DATE: May 21, 2020 

RE: MTA Statutory Exemption No. 2020-004631ENV ["Slow Streets"] 


PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that Coalition for Adequate Review hereby appeals to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors the environmental determination(s) of the San Francisco Planning Department dated April 21, 2020, and all actions implementing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's ("MTA's") "Slow Streets" Project ("the Project"), including "Slow Streets," "D5 Safe and Slow Streets," "Panhandle Social Distancing and Safety Project," and all other street closures, barriers to travel, traffic and parking lane removal, installation of bicycle lanes, and other changes affecting public streets in San Francisco under the claim of an "emergency" exemption from CEQA due to the Covid epidemic. 

A copy of MTA's CEQA exemption document No. 2020-004631ENV is attached as Attachment A. That document was not publicly available and was only obtained through a Sunshine Ordinance request on May 11, 2020, long after MTA began implementing the Project. 

Attachment B is MTA's Map of some streets included in the Project. Attachment C is MTA's May 19, 2020 announcement of implementation of the Project on Fell Street by removing a traffic lane and installing a bicycle lane with no environmental review. 

Appellant is unable to attach an "approval" action, because MTA has refused to provide whatever "approval" action(s) it has taken on this Project, and/or it has conducted no publicly accessible meetings to approve its Project, and/or has implemented it without any prior approval action. Although an approval action by the Director of MTA is referred to in the exemption document, MTA has refused to provide a copy of it after Appellant's Sunshine Ordinance and Public Records Act requests. (Attachment A, page 2) 

With no prior public notice, beginning on April 21, 2020, MTA has implemented its "Slow Streets" Project, closing many streets in San Francisco to vehicles, based on a claim that the Project is statutorily exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") (Pub. Res. Code §§21000 et seq.), citing 14 Cal. Code Regs. (CEQA Guidelines) §15269(c) "Emergency Projects." (Attachment A, page 2; Attachment B) 

On May 16, 2020, MTA announced it would close more streets under a "Next Phase" of Slow Streets. On May 19, 2020 MTA announced it would remove a traffic lane and parking on Fell Street to install a bicycle lane, asserting another "emergency" with a new name, "Panhandle Social Distancing and Safety Project." 

None of MTA's implementation actions have been preceded by any public notice or public hearing. The public has been wholly excluded from and denied the right to participate in MTA's creation of the Project, its scope, and its implementation. 

The Project claims with no support that MTA asserts authority to close public streets because "essential walk and bike travel while transit service levels are temporarily reduced" is an emergency. MTA provides no correlation between its decision to reduce public transit and the streets it claims must be closed, since few of those streets had any public transit to begin with, and no evidence supports any need for more space for people to walk or ride bicycles for essential trips on those streets or any other due to the "COVID-19 public health emergency." (Attachment A, page 1) 

Moreover, the Project does not fall within the CEQA's Statutory Exemption or definition of an emergency, which can only be a "sudden, unexpected occurrence, involving a clear and imminent danger, demanding immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of, or damage to, life, health, property, or essential public services," including "fire, flood, earthquake, or other soil or geological movements, as well as such occurrences as riot, accident, or sabotage." (Pub. Res. Code §21060.3 ["Emergency"].) 

The emergency exemption provided under CEQA is not meant to be used to justify MTA's determination to close streets to cars, but for serious emergencies where peril to life and property is imminent and drastic. 

The narrowly construed standards for an emergency exemption are not met by MTA's desire to exclude and delay the vast majority of travelers in motor vehicles and transit on public streets in San Francisco on behalf of the less than 3 percent who travel by bicycle. Nor does motor vehicle travel impair in any way bicyclists' use of public streets and pedestrians' use of sidewalks. 

Even if the City's Covid directives allow trips by any mode for essential travel, MTA's actions are not supported by any evidence that sidewalks in the "Slow Streets" Project do not already accommodate essential travel by pedestrians, and that existing bicycle facilities, including dedicated lanes, do not already accommodate essential travel by bicycles. 

Moreover, the Project is preempted under the California and United States Constitutions, which prohibit closing public streets to travelers, including those in motor vehicles. Further, the Project plainly conflicts with the Vehicle Code and other statutory provisions. 

MTA's Project and its Statutory Exemption are illegal under CEQA, and the Board of Supervisors must order MTA to immediately fully restore motor vehicle travel and remove barriers to vehicle travel on all streets affected by the Project and restore them to their conditions before MTA's "Slow Streets" Project. 

Appellant will submit further briefing and comment on or before the scheduled hearing date on this appeal. 

Pursuant to information provided by the Board of Supervisor's Clerk's office, and because the Board of Supervisors' office is closed, Appellant electronically files this Appeal and a Fee Waiver application, and will send payment on or before the date when the Clerk advises that the Board will resume scheduling hearings, including a hearing on this Appeal.  

Mary Miles 
Attorney for Coalition for Adequate Review 

cc: Environmental Review Officer, San Francisco Planning Department 


A: MTA and Planning Statutory Exemption No. 2020-004631ENV ["Slow Streets, Phase 1"] 
B: MTA's May 16, 2020 Map of its "Slow Streets" Project 
C: MTA's May 19, 2020 Announcement of its "Panhandle Social Distancing and Safety Project"

See also BikeThink: The ideology of bicycles.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home