Neighbors for Smart Rail suffered a setback today when Judge Thomas McKnew gave an intial recommendation to dismiss their lawsuit against phase II of the Expo light rail project. This is a huge setback for the group, which opposes the light rail line from Downtown LA to Santa Monica, as the group believes it might impact resident's ability to access the freeway to sit in congested traffic to Downtown LA or Santa Monica.
NSFR's Attorney John Bowman was more optimistic about how he would fare in the case: "I'm getting paid either way. Sure, attacking a sustainability transit project based on its impacts to is a bastardization of the spirit and letter of CEQA. Sure, Expo Phase II anticipated lawsuits and knew they had to do a bulletproof analysis of environmental impacts and mitigation measures. I don't think there's necessarily a strong case here, but I'll gladly take their money. Plus, the weaker the case, the more they have to pay me to develop a challenge which won't get laughed out of court."
Regardless of the outcome, Bowman anticipates future business from the NSFR group. "This group has a thirst for lawsuits. They also seem to be very concerned about kids mixing with vehicles in the neighborhood. Any judge will realize that light rail vehicles have professionally trained drivers and can only have pedestrian conflicts within its right-of-way. Automobiles, however, which encompass the vast majority of vehicle traffic in the neighborhood can deviate from the roadway and impact pedestrians in the clear zone. That seems a lot less safe. I think I can convince them to launch a case to ban vehicles from the neighborhood using an arcane 19th century California law governing carriageways near schoolhouses. Of course, that would require a lot of legal research and preparation of briefing documents, but I think they're willing to pay me for it. Work is slow for lawyers right now, and NSFR helps keep my firm in business."
Neighbors for Smart Rail representative Terri Tippet was upset at the setback but took it as a sign that the group needed to raise more money to challenge the project. "If we throw enough money at it, maybe it will go away," said Tippet. "We've raised over $65,000 so far and we'll raise whatever we need to take this to the Appellate Court and California Supreme Court."
Reminder: This is the first in what will be a series of humorous articles in transportation and real estate in Los Angeles. None of the quotes are real.