CEQA Lawsuit Poised on Council Decision – Legal Peril of Adding In Traffic Lane on MOVE Project

A letter from legal counsel dated April 21, 2023 was submitted to Culver City Council and City Attorney Heather Baker on Friday afternoon, demanding that any additional lane of traffic the council tries to add into the MOVE downtown transit project must be subject to California Environmental Quality Act process. This letter was forwarded to Culver City Crossroads, and notes that the CEQA specifically prohibits adding additional lanes for auto traffic. 

The many organizations involved in trying to protect the multi-model transit model, working under the umbrella of Friends of MOVE Culver City, are being represented by the law firm of Alston and Bird. 

The letter, dated April 21, 2023,  states “On behalf of Friends of Move Culver City, I demand that the City Council fully comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (Cal. Public Resources Code  Section 21000 et seq.) (“CEQA”) before taking any action to demolish and remove the  protected bike lanes located in the Downtown Corridor in order to create additional space for a vehicle traffic lane on both sides of the street (the “Proposed Project”).”

This new legal twist, along with the National Resources Defense Council statements of concern and interest shows a very clear intent for litigation should the Council attempt to proceed without an Environmental Impact Report and subsequent CEQA process.

The letter from the law firm of Alston and Bird demands that if adding an additional lane of car traffic, the complete CEQA process must be followed, which can be projected as a significant cost to the city. As a long standing California law, there is nothing in CEQA that gives an exemption to removing pilot projects or adding car lanes to a project.

In fact, the CEQA exemption for existing streets is limited to “alterations that do not create additional automobile lanes.”

The future of the MOVE project is on the agenda for the Culver City city council meeting for April 24, 2023. For more information, go to CulverCity.org.

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang