Updated 12/29 and 1/6: It's been a bad few days for the Gold Line Construction Authority, which has been working diligently to get their extension to Azusa open by 2015 or 2016. First, there's the California Supreme Court decision that effectively killed the state's redevelopment agencies. Monrovia's RDA was planning to sell the GLCA a plot of land for the light rail's maintenance yard--now that deal is seriously in question. Though the GLCA took action last week to condemn the plot via eminent domain in case the Supreme Court ruled against RDAs, this obviously complicates matters. The second, and likely more damning, news is that a superior court judge yesterday "reversed a ruling she made in October against Monrovia property owner George Brokate, a decision that may require the construction authority to redo an environmental review and could affect the timeline of the Azusa to Pasadena light rail extension," according to the Pasadena Star-News.
Brokate, who owns land around the planned maintenance facility, has filed six suits against the Gold Line, whose construction authority hoped to buy his land. One of his claims is that the Gold Line "did not consider other reasonable alternative sites for the [maintenance] yard and predetermined the outcome of the EIR before conducting the study," according to the Monrovia Patch. Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones ruled against Brokate this fall, but the judge reversed her decision yesterday, saying the one maintenance facility alternative studied in the environmental impact report--in Irwindale--was not legitimate.
"The one alternative selected did not meet the project's requirements, ie., its location on a constructed portion of the rail line That alternative, therefore, did not provide a reasonable and realistic alternative to the Monrovia site," Jones wrote.
It's not yet clear if the GLCA will have to conduct a new EIR--that would set the project back months or years. The construction authority, which has already half-built a bridge across the 210, is preparing a statement. Meanwhile, Brokate's attorney, Robert Silverstein, who's known for working on CEQA-based lawsuits, has this to say: "These people are chronic violators of the law...I can't quantify their stupidity."
UPDATE: The GLCA released a statement saying they're perplexed by the ruling because it's based on erroneous information, and that they're seeking a reversal.
"While rejecting one of the arguments made by the petitioner--that the number of alternatives reviewed in the SEIR (supplemental environmental impact report) was insufficient--the ruling found, incorrectly, that the alternate site in Irwindale evaluated in the SEIR was not feasible because of its location. The ruling stated that the site was "located beyond the terminus of Phase 2A [Pasadena to Azusa) of the project." In fact, the site in Irwindale, just south of the I-210 freeway, is directly adjacent to the Phase 2A (Pasadena to Azusa) alignment."
· Judge: Gold Line construction authority violated environmental laws [PSN]
· Gold Line Foothill Extension Archives [Curbed LA]