California High-Speed Rail on Track? Bridging the Gap Between Competing Land Use Issues with the California High-Speed Rail Project

By Kevin J. Grochow*

* J.D. Candidate, Chapman University School of Law, May 2012; B.A. History, University of California, Irvine, June 2007.

Excerpt from California High-Speed Rail on Track? Bridging the Gap Between Competing Land Use Issues with the California High-Speed Rail Project, 15 Chap. L. Rev. 585 (Winter, 2012)

Introduction
 
On August 26, 2009, a decision was rendered that paused nearly a decade of planning and development of the California High-Speed Rail project in Northern California. 2 The California Superior Court for the County of Sacramento ruled that the California High-Speed Rail Authority's 3 ("Rail Authority" or "CHSRA") May 2008 Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") for the Bay Area-to-Central Valley portion of the rail network was inadequate in that it failed to show a complete description of the project. 4 What the court found particularly insufficient were the descriptions and attempts to mitigate the various land use issues that would arise if Union Pacific Railroad continued to oppose the sharing of their track right-of-way with the proposed high-speed rail network. 5 The absence of sufficient analysis exploring these issues violated the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA"), and required the Rail Authority to reevaluate these issues in revising their EIR for this section of track. 6 In response to the writ of mandate the court issued against it, the Rail Authority rescinded its certification of the May 2008 Final Program EIR and, for forty-five days, re-circulated revised portions of a prior EIR in a document called the "Bay Area to Central Valley Revised Draft Program EIR Material." 7 By the end of the forty-five day public comment period, the Rail Authority received more than 500 written letters and verbal statements at public hearings, totaling more than 3750 individual comments. 8

On September 2, 2010, the Rail ...

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