Attorney: City trying to circumvent judicial injunction on bike plan

An injunction against San Francisco’s bike plan remains in place after a judge ordered lawyers for The City and the plaintiffs to submit proposals for resolving the case.

Superior Court Judge Peter Busch heard oral arguments Tuesday from Deputy City Attorney Audrey Pearson and Mary Miles, attorney for the plaintiff, the Coalition for Adequate Review. He did not issue a tentative decision and said after the arguments were complete, “I’m going to take all the time I need to decide this case.” Busch has a maximum of 90 days to issue a decision.

The Coalition for Adequate Review sued The City in July 2005, claiming that The City was trying to implement a bicycle plan that would alter streetscapes, sometimes reducing parking or traffic lanes to allow bicycle access, without conducting an environmental review.

The City had filed for an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act, on the grounds that the plan would have no significant effect on the environment. The bicycle plan, which includes two approximately 250-page documents, outlines bicycle policies and projects for The City.

In court Tuesday, Pearson argued that the plan itself would not commit The City to make any physical changes to the streetscape. “If the first project doesn’t commit you to doing any future projects, you don’t have to do a review,” she said.

But Miles argued that The City is trying to circumvent the review process by implementing the plan in a piecemeal fashion. “They’re saying that the plan is not the sum of its parts, and that these things that are listed as parts of the plan aren’t reallypart of the plan,” she said in an interview.

Both sides now must submit written orders describing how they would like the case resolved. Busch can sign one order or the other, or he can create a new one with elements of both.

City Attorney’s Office spokesman Matt Dorsey said the City Attorney’s Office would push for a resolution that allows The City to resume work installing bicycle lanes as soon as possible. “The most important aspect of this case is that The City be allowed to implement a plan that demonstrably protects the public safety of bicyclists,” he said.

Rob Anderson of the Coalition for Adequate Review said his group feels the most important reason for the litigation is to give residents a say in the changes the plan might cause. “It’s for the good of The City. If they’re going to come in and take away a traffic lane and street parking, those people ought to know that,” he said.

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