A Sacramento County Superior judge rejected the latest attempt to derail the high-speed rail project. Judge Raymond Cadei rejected a temporary restraining order intended to stop the sale of bonds until a court could rule on whether spending it would violate Proposition 1A.
The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of AB1889 — a last-minute piece of legislation that was introduced last year — and the legality of the bond sale. Last year, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill that changed the wording of the previous legislation that approved the selling of bonds to pay for upgrade to Caltrain.
Proponents of the high speed rail say that the bill is meant to clarify a portion of prior legislation that authorized $1.1 billion for transit improvements at both ends of the high speed rail project.
The plaintiffs believe the change is beyond what the voters approved nearly a decade ago, and that only voters can make the change. When voters approved the near $10-billion bond sale under Proposition 1A, they set a slew of conditions before the funds could be spent, which opponents believe the authority hasn’t met.
“When the ballot measure says, ‘suitable and ready for high-speed train operation, that’s pretty clear,” said plaintiffs’ counsel. “And to say, well, it’ll be suitable and ready for high-speed train operations sometime later after we do some more work, that’s not what the voters voted for.”
“This is their way to get around the financial straitjacket. That’s the whole purpose of AB 1889,” said David Schonbrunn, president of the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund that joined in the lawsuit.
Last year, another judge ruled against a suit filed by plaintiffs’ counsel that sought to block the bond sales because the rail system now being built is different from the one promised to voters.
Cadei will consider a preliminary injunction against the high speed rail at an April 19th hearing — the day before the planned high speed rail bond sale.
The rail authority is expected to exhaust their federal stimulus funds by next September. However, with Prop 1A bonds and revenue from the state’s cap and trade markets, they believe they will have enough money to build and open the first operating segment.
We will continue to follow this project as plans evolve, and will continue to represent property and business owners affected by the project. If you think your property or business may be taken for the high speed rail project, you can learn more about your options by giving us a call at (866) EM-DOMAIN.