Farella Represents Marin County Bicycle Coalition in Successful Pro Bono Appeal to Permit Bicycle Access to Existing Trail Network
SAN FRANCISCO, January 29, 2020: With assistance from Farella Braun + Martel, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) participated as amicus curiae in a successful appeal of a lawsuit challenging the Marin County Open Space District’s approval of MCBC’s proposal to open the Bob Middagh Trail in Mill Valley, Calif. to bicycle use. In a significant CEQA decision, the California Court of Appeal held on Jan. 24 that the “social effects” of bike use on trails falls outside the scope of the CEQA review. According to the court, government agencies deciding whether to provide bicycle access to existing trails are not required to analyze social effects such as perceived user conflict with hikers as part of the environmental effects analysis under CEQA.
Farella Partner David Lazerwitz represented MCBC pro bono as amicus curiae in the appeal, filing an appellate brief addressing the important CEQA issues raised in the case. “The trial court’s ‘social concerns’ ruling represented a significant expansion of the type of environmental effects analyzed pursuant to CEQA and could have vastly complicated the process for agencies to increase bike access to existing trails,” said Lazerwitz. “The Court of Appeal decision reversed the trial court’s ruling while maintaining the focus of projects like this on potential effects to the natural environment under CEQA, which the court held the county properly analyzed in this instance.”
The case represents a significant victory for MCBC because it establishes precedent as the first bicycle-access trail approval occurring under the county’s 2014 Road and Trail Management Plan (RTMP) which, among other things, established a process for increasing bicycle access to the county’s large-scale trail network. Founded in 1998, MCBC promotes safe bicycling for everyday transportation and recreation and expanding Marin's network of bike lanes, pathways, bridges, tunnels and trails.
The case is Community Venture Partners v. Marin County Open Space District, Appeal No. A154867 (California Court of Appeal, First District).
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