San Francisco city attorney views latest ruling on bike plan as victory for cyclists

The City Attorney’s Office is celebrating a victory in the latest legal challenge to San Francisco’s bike plan after an appeals court upheld a previous ruling on the legitimacy of the environmental review.

The plan, which envisions 34 miles of new bike lanes on San Francisco streets, was initially approved in 2005 but quickly drew a lawsuit from local resident Rob Anderson. He argued that the initiative required an environmental impact report, an argument upheld by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter Busch, who ordered a temporary injunction against any bike-related improvements until a study was completed.

After extensive review, the plan was finally certified by the Board of Supervisors in 2009. Then in 2010, Busch lifted the temporary injunction.

However, Anderson appealed to California’s 1st District Court of Appeal.

But Monday, that court referred back to Busch’s original decision in upholding the legitimacy of The City’s bike plan review.

The appeals court did raise questions about the Board of Supervisors’ approval of the environmental review process, and specifically cited projects included in the bike plan that lacked proper oversight.

The City Attorney’s Office is still reviewing the decision but is gratified by the ruling, spokesman Matt Dorsey said.  
“This decisively affirms the adequacy of our environmental review,” he said. “The decision identified a relatively small number of technical shortcomings in a 35,000-page record, and we’re confident that the issues the court raised can easily be remedied in the record.”

There is a chance that elements of the bike plan need to be re-approved by supervisors, or be re-argued in Superior Court. Those processes are not expected to affect current bike projects.

“We see nothing in this ruling that would in any way delay bike projects that are already approved,” Dorsey said.
Anderson did not return requests for comment Tuesday.

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