Judge Rules in Favor of RTC in Santa Cruz County Greenway Lawsuit

In a Superior Court of Santa Cruz County hearing today, Judge Paul Burdick denied the Petition for Writ of Mandate in its entirety in the case of Santa Cruz County Greenway v. Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC).

The court’s ruling rejected the challenge to the RTC’s decision to enter into an Administration, Coordination and License Agreement (ACL) with St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Progressive Rail Incorporated. The ruling also finds that the RTC’s commitment to make FEMA funded repairs to the storm damage on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line near Harkins Slough is categorically exempt from environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The ruling states that Greenway failed to meet the burden to establish “that the exemptions do not apply.”

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and look forward to getting back to work to repair the line and restoring in full this valuable resource to the community,” RTC Executive Director Guy Preston said. “Our agency is very committed to going above and beyond to ensure environmental care on all of our projects. Although we do not have to go through the full CEQA process, that by no means reduces the amount of care we are going to put into ensuring that these repairs meet all state and federal environmental requirements.”

The RTC is currently working with Kittleson Environmental Consulting on the state and federal environmental permitting process for the storm damage repairs. In October 2018, the RTC submitted applications for permits and agreements to repair the line to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.