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The Times Standard has the story.

Heraldo has the plaintiff’s press release, and a lively thread in progress.

Hank also has the story, with a link to the decision (also in the EPIC press release), and in the thread Kym has a statement from CalTrans about the aspects of the ruling in its favor.

Looks like Judge Reinholtsen took it under submission – not much news.  I only knew about it because my trial was interrupted for the hearing.

More information as it comes.

Addendum:  Heraldo has a thread.

Heraldo reports.

From Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity.

SAN FRANCISCO— On September 27, 2010, five individuals and three environmental advocacy organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the California Department of Transportation challenging a major construction project along Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park in Humboldt County.  The project will destroy and damage prized old-growth redwoods to allow access for large commercial trucks.  The lawsuit — the second suit citizens have filed to stop the controversial project — was filed due to Caltrans’ failure to conduct a thorough environmental review of the project, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

“We can see no other option than to seek help from the courts to protect this threatened grove,” said Kerul Dyer, Richardson Grove Campaign coordinator for the Environmental Protection Information Center.  “Caltrans not only failed to evaluate the harm this complex project would cause to these ancient trees, they railroaded this multi-million-dollar project through, disregarding the public’s concerns and grossly understating the impacts the project would have.”

“We are determined not to let this protected grove of old-growth redwoods and the endangered species that depend on them be cut into for the sake of letting a few more oversized trucks speed through the grove,” said Peter Galvin, conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity.  “Caltrans should scrap this misguided project, which has been opposed by dozens of groups, local business owners, scientists, elected representatives and tens of thousands of concerned citizens.”

Bess Bair, lead plaintiff on the federal lawsuit, was born and raised in Humboldt County near Richardson Grove.  Bair is the granddaughter of Bess and Fred Hartsook, originators of the historic Hartsook Inn, near the Richardson Grove.  Bair joined the lawsuit to carry on her century-long family legacy of protecting the majestic giant redwoods from harm. “I know these trees intimately, I was raised among them,” said Bair. “There are ways to resolve this situation that do not put these trees at risk and preserve them for all Californians.”

More under the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Not New York anyway.  But the city adjacent to Berkeley feels a stake in the controversy.

My question – did they take a stand on the widening of Interstate 80?

Albany has, to my knowledge, California’s only Korea Town with a great theater which exclusively plays Korean film.

Wikipedia says this of the city’s history:

In 1908, a group of local women protested the dumping of Berkeley garbage in their community. Armed with two shotguns and a twenty-two-caliber rifle, they confronted the drivers of the wagons near what is now the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Buchanan Street. The women told the drivers of the horse-drawn garbage wagons to go home, which they did quickly and without complaint. Shortly thereafter, the residents of the town voted to incorporate as the City of Ocean View. In 1909, voters changed the name of the city, primarily to distinguish the city from the adjacent section of Berkeley which had previously been named Ocean View. On a vote of 38 to 6 the city was renamed in honor of Albany, New York, the birthplace of the city’s first mayor, Frank Roberts.

I think this entry to Wilipedia may need updating, at least as far as what they are “trying to attract.”

The major retail and business areas in Albany are Solano Avenue, which is a pedestrian-oriented street lined with mainly small shops, restaurants, and services; San Pablo Avenue, which is more automobile-oriented; and an area near the Eastshore Freeway, which the city is trying to attract big-box stores and offices, and currently houses a two-story Target store.

The band Metalica resides in Albany.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 2010

NORTH COAST CITIZENS AND CONSERVATION GROUPS FILE SUIT TO PROTECT ANCIENT REDWOODS FROM CALTRANS HIGHWAY PROJECT

SAN FRANCISCO ?  A coalition of  local citizens and conservation organizations filed suit today in San Francisco Superior Court to protect the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park in Northern California. The lawsuit challenges Caltrans’ approval of a controversial highway widening and realignment project. According to the lawsuit, Caltrans violated the California Environmental Quality Act in approving the project, which poses unacceptable risks to Richardson Grove State Park, its ancient redwoods, endangered species, and the rural region behind the fabled ?redwood curtain.?  The project involves cutting down numerous trees and threatens the survival of almost one hundred more.

“Caltrans has not shown that this project will not harm our priceless park. We cannot risk damaging the old growth redwoods which Richardson Grove State Park was created to protect, said Kerul Dyer, Richardson Grove campaign coordinator for the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC).

“The project is dangerous to the grove and isn’t necessary to address any known safety issue.”

“Caltrans wants to cut through and pave over the life-giving roots of ancient redwoods in one of California?s most-loved state parks, yet expects us to believe there won’t be any damage,” said Peter Galvin, conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity.  “Caltrans? failure to follow the law puts these old-growth trees and the endangered species dependent on them at unacceptable risk.”

The Environmental Impact Report prepared by Caltrans failed to acknowledge the full extent of the project’s impacts, as required by state law, including the effects of cutting through and paving over the widespread but shallow network of roots holding Richardson Grove together, the consequences of stockpiling lead-contaminated soil in an area draining to the wild and scenic South Fork Eel River, and the far-reaching impacts of opening the road to larger trucks.  Caltrans also failed to adopt legally required measures to lessen these impacts and failed to consider less damaging alternatives.

Joining EPIC and the Center for Biological Diversity as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Trisha Lotus, Jeffery Hedin, Bruce Edwards, Loreen Eliason, and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics.   Trisha Lotus is the great granddaughter of Henry Devoy, who in 1922 transferred to California the initial redwood forest which became Richardson Grove State Park.  Jeffrey Hedin is a disabled Vietnam War Veteran, an elected commissioner with the Piercy Fire Protection District, and a volunteer responder to emergencies in Mendocino and Humboldt counties.  Bruce Edwards is licensed contractor who frequently travels the highway through Richardson Grove in both directions on a daily basis for his work.  Loreen Eliason is a Humboldt County native and the proprietor of Riverwood Inn.  Built in 1937 and located at the beginning of the Avenue of the Giants, the Riverwood Inn is the last original “roadhouse” on Highway 101 in Humboldt County.

The lawsuit was prepared and filed with the pro bono assistance of Philip Gregory, former Congressman Pete McCloskey and Stuart Gross, attorneys from the renowned litigation firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.  The firm’s high-caliber lawyering and dedication to socially just causes have won it statewide and national recognition.  Sharon Duggan, an expert on environmental law with an emphasis on forestry regulation joined with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy in the preparation of the lawsuit.

According to former Congressman McCloskey, “This case is about Caltrans ignoring the science, the historic and economic value Richardson Grove, and the will of Californians.  All of these factors weigh heavily in favor of protecting these ancient and iconic redwoods from a project that Caltrans admits will have no impact on safety.  These patriotic individuals and organizations have stood up against Caltrans and in favor of common sense.

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy is honored to represent them in this fight.”

Contact:          Kerul Dyer
Environmental Protection Information Center
(707) 834-3358

Peter Galvin
Center for Biological Diversity
(707) 986-2600

Patricia Clary
Californians for Alternatives to Toxics,
707-445-5100 ext. 205

Stuart Gross
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy
(650) 697-6000

According to this statement, the trees are coming down in Richardson Grove.  Jeff Muskrat is rousing the troops.

Addendum: Uh, I don’t know what’s really going on actually, but if you read the post through the link early on you might want to head over now and read all the comments before getting too worked up.

Probably because both were discussed on the Board of Supes meeting yesterday.  The short version is that the Board wants the GPU process accelerated, or at least some of the Board members do.  And they approved a letter to Caltrans calling for more transparency.

On the GPU the members of the public present called for slowing down the process, and some, according to the TS, requested that the GPU be stopped entirely with the old plan remaining in place – presumably for another 20 years, and according to the KMUD report last night one speaker said that lawsuits are inevitable.

Barbara Kennedy was present for the Richardson Grove issue and called for the reopening of public comment, which Caltrans is not inclined to do.

The BOS also voted to ignore the Grand Jury report about their salaries.  Some have argued that the Grand Jury has been stacked with a particular political agenda.

Meanwhile, for those of you paying attention to the BOS races, which could lead to a major change of the balance of power, the North Coast Journal interviewed the three Fourth District candidates.  Lots of people down here are concerned about the General Plan Update, but also have concerns about “urban” development and environmental concerns, and so have mixed feelings about each of the candidates.  I think HumCPR is avoiding election endorsements this time around, which I think is smart given their  mixed constituency.  But I wonder where Sohum is in the Fourth and Fifth District races.

The topic of the second installment of Cristina’s article is the Richardson Grove issue, but really it’s about much more.  It’s about the dynamics of local politics and it captures a great deal of what I’ve tried to say in a number of posts here and lays it out comprehensively and succinctly.  Yes, there are editorial elements in it and in that sense it’s “biased.”  Get over it.  She raises questions about our politics which apply to the Reggae War, the General Plan Update, and the Second District Supervisor election.  Liberals fighting liberals.  “Left wing tea parties.”

We live in a community rich in activism.  It’s a good thing.  People are willing to “speak truth to power.”  Some of them are willing to do much more than speak and make great sacrifices and physical risks in civil disobedience.  There is a great deal of passion.  We’re ready to take on the powers that be; to defy all that is wrong with the system “out there.”

If only we can learn to listen.

Karl Marx criticized philosophers for merely trying to interpret the world and failing to try to change it.  I’m thinking that many of us need to focus on learning more about the world.  We might become better at changing it.

But a hero needs a villain.  Odds and powers all against him.  A right and a wrong.  A hero knows both.  It’s all about the cause which sustains the hero.

Look at the comments attached to the article.  Sun Valley poisons workers.  Lost Coast brews bad beer.  Bauss sounds kind of like Bass.  Hank Sims is a plagiarist.  Trustafarians.  EPIC fail.  But no response to the central questions Cristina raises.

The cause is just.  Collateral damage is justified.  Nuance be damned.

Sometimes it’s really embarrassing.

Thank you Cristina.

Also check out Hank’s sideline editorial.

An article long overdue which explores some of the misunderstandings of the project and the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the argument.  The whole thing is worth a read, but this portion stick out to me.

In response to a question about corporate stores that are already here, EPIC’s reply was, “Your mention of existing big-box stores with their own fleets of trucks establishes that the STAA designation is not necessary.” But not necessary for whom? If the big boxes don’t need STAA access to be here, how can providing that access be the cause of their coming here? The argument seems to be circular and self-defeating. It is, of course, “necessary” for Caltrans to be in compliance with federal law — a fact that was curiously ignored at the Feb. 24 forum.

In next week’s installment of the story, Cristina explores some of the claims about business needs regarding the project, and I hope she has helped to clear up conflicting claims about whom would benefit the most – big boxes or small business.

At the end of this first installment Cristina mentions that EPIC intends to file suit on the inadequacies of the DEIR, and it does seem like there are plenty of omissions to justify criticism.  But if compliance with federal law is the issue, wouldn’t such a lawsuit simply being forestalling the inevitable?  By focusing on the DEIR rather than any explicit violations of law in the project itself, they are leaving out a key defendant in the federal government, and fundamentally whether the STAA-accommodation requirements violate federal environmental regulations.  If not, then it seems like this project is inevitable in some form.

On another point, the article confirms my take on the development issue.  While I remain agnostic on many of the issues, the whole “maintain the bottleneck to prevent development” approach is misguided.  Development is controlled by smart growth policies.  If we don’t want a big box in Eureka, or Fortuna, we push for ordinances which restrict that development, and we oppose variances such as those being sought for the Marina Center.  To the controlled growth issue, this one seems like a distraction.

The comments attached to the article raise some good points and some lame ones, but it’s the kind of discussion we need.  Like I said in a previous post, I wish someone would organize a panel debate in lieu of the one-sided pep rallies all sides organize to pump up their own positions and do little to address the nuances and factual disputes.  It should be easy to confirm whether Randy Gans is telling the truth about lobbying, since everything should be public record.  Or whether the Crescent City Home Depot takes in STAA deliveries from the north.  And I would like to see some detailed botanical analysis as to the potential danger to the roadside old growth due to the compromising of the root structures with an air spade, hot asphalt, etc.  It seems that all sides are charged up with big opinions while lacking crucial information.

And thank you again Cristina and NCJ!

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