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Bike Plan Case

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City Attorney Herrera is continuing the City's legal defense of the San Francisco Bicycle Plan, a citywide policy intended to make bicycling a safe and viable means of transportation.

A lawsuit challenging the plan was brought in 2005 by local blogger and perennial political candidate Rob Anderson, together with an organizational alter-ego called the "Coalition for Adequate Review," or CAR, which purports to represent those opposed to bicycle-friendly policies. The petitioners in that challenge succeeded in their argument that the City should have first conducted an environmental review to evaluate potential impacts of the Bicycle Plan in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

For more than three years, San Francisco has been under a court ordered injunction that generally prohibits the City from implementing the improvements envisioned in the plan until after potential environmental effects were fully evaluated.

On Aug. 28, 2009 -- following an exhaustive environmental review and approval process that culminated in a 2,200 page environmental impact report, or EIR -- Herrera filed a motion with San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter J. Busch to dissolve the injunction. At a Nov. 2 hearing on that motion, Superior Court Judge Peter J. Busch requested a declaration from City officials by Nov. 6 detailing specific bicycle safety improvements that the City planned to undertake over the next several months. In addition, Judge Busch requested briefing from both parties by Nov. 12 on the authority of the Court to order reversal of any bicycle improvements made after the injunction is lifted in the event that the City's Environmental Impact Report, or EIR were later found to be deficient.

Key Documents

Bike Plan Litigation Timeline

  • Feb. 3, 2005: S.F. Planning Dept. reviews 2005 Bicycle Plan, adopts General Plan amendments, finding that the amendments would have no significant impact on the environment under CEQA.
  • June 21, 2005: S.F. Board of Supervisors amends the City’s General Plan to incorporate the Department of Parking and Traffic’s Bicycle Plan Policy Framework.
  • July 28, 2005: A legal challenge is initiated by two unincorporated associations opposed to bicycle-friendly policies—the “Coalition for Adequate Review,” or CAR, and “Ninety-Nine Percent”—and local blogger and perennial political candidate Rob Anderson. Together, the petitioners argue that the City should have first prepared an environmental impact report evaluating the Bicycle Plan.
  • June 20, 2006: Judge James L. Warren grants petitioners’ request for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the City from implementing projects contained in the Bicycle Plan, finding that they would likely prevail in their argument that the City was required to prepare an EIR for the plan.
  • August 2006: Municipal Transportation Authority (the successor agency to DPT) conducts a count of the number of bicyclists at 35 locations throughout the City, generally between 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 19, 2006: A hearing on the merits of CAR v. CCSF is held before Judge Peter J. Busch on the petitioners’ Petition for Writ of Mandate to compel the City to conduct environmental review.
  • June 5, 2007: Planning Dept. issues a Notice of Preparation of an environmental impact report to analyze key components of the Bicycle Plan.
  • June 18, 2007: Judge Busch issues a Peremptory Writ of Mandate ordering the City to conduct environmental review on the Bicycle Plan, continuing in effect the June 2006 injunction pending completion of environmental review.
  • June 26, 2007: Planning Dept. holds a public meeting to solicit comments on what should be included in the scope of the Bicycle Plan EIR, accepting written comments on the scope through July 6, 2007.
  • August 2007: MTA conducts another count of bicyclists at the same 35 locations and times surveyed a year earlier. The counts demonstrate a 15 percent increase in bicycle traffic over August 2006.
  • March 15, 2008: Planning Dept. publishes an Initial Study (a preliminary analysis to identify significant environmental effects to be analyzed in an EIR). In this study, Planning Dept. narrows the range of impacts to be studied to those relating to traffic and circulation, traffic-related noise, and air quality.
  • March 28, 2008: City Attorney Herrera petitions Court for modification of the injunction to allow for safety improvements to the intersection of Fell Street and Masonic Avenue.
  • April 29, 2008: Judge Busch grants Herrera’s motion to modify the injunction in part, allowing for safety improvements to intersection of Fell and Masonic.
  • August 2008: MTA conducts another count of bicyclists at the same 35 locations and times surveyed a year earlier. The counts demonstrate a 24 percent increase in bicycle traffic over August 2007.
  • Nov. 26, 2008: Planning Dept. publishes Draft EIR, mailing notice of its availability to more than 1,400 individuals and organizations.
  • Jan. 8, 2009: Planning Commission holds a public hearing on the Draft EIR to obtain oral comments. Only one person speaks at the hearing, in support of the draft.
  • Jan. 13, 2009: The official period for submission of written public comments on the Draft EIR concludes, allowing slightly longer than the statutorily required 45-day comment period.
  • June 11, 2009: Planning Dept. publishes its response to public comments on the Draft EIR, including those received after the official comment period had ended.
  • June 25, 2009: Planning Commission certifies the EIR as accurate, adequate and in compliance with CEQA; recommends that the Board of Supervisors approve ordinances amending the General Plan and Planning Code. The Commission also adopts a statement of overriding considerations that the plan’s benefits outweigh unavoidable impacts to traffic, transit and loading.
  • June 26, 2009: MTA Board of Directors adopts 2009 Bicycle Plan, together with a resolution approving traffic changes necessary to implement 45 of 60 proposed near-term improvements. It also adopts a statement of overriding considerations.
  • July 15, 2009: Petitioners appeal the Planning Commission’s certification of the EIR to the Board of Supervisors.
  • Aug. 4, 2009: Board of Supervisors hears Petitioners’ appeal of Planning’s certification of the EIR, and votes to deny the appeal.
  • Aug. 11, 2009: Board of Supervisors adopts ordinances rescinding approval of the 2005 Bicycle Plan and amending the Planning Code and the General Plan, and makes other findings required by CEQA, including a statement of overriding considerations.
  • Aug. 12, 2009: Mayor Newsom signs the ordinances.
  • Aug. 14, 2009: Planning issues a Notice of Determination, reflecting the completion of the CEQA process that supports the City’s adoption of the Bicycle Plan.
  • Aug. 28, 2009: City Attorney Herrera files motion to dissolve injunction.
  • Nov. 2, 2009: Judge Busch requests a declaration from City officials by Nov. 6 detailing specific bicycle safety improvements that the City planned to undertake over the next several months. In addition, Judge Busch requested briefing from both parties by Nov. 12 on the authority of the Court to order reversal of any bicycle improvements made after the injunction is lifted in the event that the City's Environmental Impact Report, or EIR were later found to be deficient.
  • Nov. 6, 2009: Declaration from City detailing specific bicycle safety improvements that the City plans to undertake over the next several months is filed.
  • Nov. 12, 2009: Short briefs are filed by both parties addressing the legal authority of the Court to order reversal of physical improvements to bicycle network in the event that the City's EIR is later found to be deficient.
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      Last updated: 12/5/2013 9:33:38 AM