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Opponents Of SD Transportation Plan File Legal Arguments

Legal briefs were filed today in a suit that accuses SANDAG of promoting dependence on car travel.

— Opponents of SANDAG's Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) for San Diego call it a recipe for environmental damage, and they filed their legal briefs today in San Diego Superior Court.

SANDAG, San Diego's planning agency, is the first in California to create a long-range transportation plan under new laws to reduce greenhouse emissions. Environmentalists are bringing suit. They say the plan virtually assures San Diego will remain car-dependent.

Kevin Bundy is an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. He said the plan does nothing to reduce global warming or vehicle-miles traveled. In fact, it allows an increase. It also pushes most transit projects into the last two decades of the plan, which extends out to the year 2050.

"So there's a real conflict between what the SANDAG plan allows, and what the science says is necessary to avoid the worst impacts," said Bundy.

The plaintiffs claim SANDAG's plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not doing enough to lessen environmental damages.

But SANDAG's special counsel, Julie Wiley, said the agency worked hard to meet CEQA requirements. She added the plan actually spends more on transit than on highways.

"Transit will receive 36 percent in the first 10 years, with 34 percent going to highway improvements," Wiley said, adding that the amount going to transit would increase each decade.

Plaintiffs counter that the formula still expands an already robust highway system, and that makes it unlikely many will choose transit over car travel, which will continue to be convenient and free-flowing.

The State of California has joined the suit against SANDAG. The California Attorney General's office is also filing briefs this week.

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