On November 29, 2016, the Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) announced that they had made the decision to open the single-track, Bob Middagh Trail in the Alto Bowl Preserve, to use by mountain bikers. This decision was made by MCOSD staff, without the approval of the Board of Supervisors, without the undertaking of any investigation or analysis as required by the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA"), and in contradiction to the procedural requirements of the County's own Trails Plan.
In response and after a thorough investigation of all the facts and circumstances, on May 26, 2017, Community Venture Partners filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate, contesting the legitimacy of that decision.
For the full background on this story please see CVP files Petition for Writ of Mandate v MCOSD.
After six months of difficulty working to coordinate with the Office of the Marin County Counsel, CVP attorney Michael Graf filed his Opening Brief & Statement of Issues, on Friday, January 26, 2018. That document describes and brings arguments regarding four significant questions:
- Whether the District committed to a course of action thereby triggering CEQA review when it approved the Project on November 29, 2016?
- Whether the District complied with CEQA when it purported to "tier" its Project approval to the District’s 2014 Road and Trail Management Plan EIR in May 2017?
- Whether the impact of introducing bikes to the Alto Bowl Preserve and Bob Middagh Trail on existing users of the Trail and Preserve is a CEQA impact that must be analyzed?
- Whether the District violated its Road and Trail Management Plan when it failed to consider any submitted project proposals not involving adding bikes to the Trail and Preserve?
The Open Space District violated CEQA:
- The District approved the Project allowing biking in the Alto Bowl Preserve prior to undergoing any CEQA review whatsoever.
- The District’s May 11, 2017 re-approval violates CEQA’s tiering provisions, e.g., The Trails Plan EIR never addressed the impacts of a major change of existing users and the District did not consider user conflict impacts.
- The Establishment of a connector bike route through the Alto Bowl Preserve along the Middagh Trail has the potential for significant adverse Impacts on existing pedestrian and equestrian users due to changes in the environment, caused by the introduction of biking, none of which were analyzed or considered.
- The Lack of CEQA Review has created an unaccountable process.
The Open Space District's project selection process violates its own Road & Trail Management Plan
- Beyond failing to undertake any CEQA review, the District did not even follow its own Trail Plan procedures in deciding what kind of ‘project’ to propose for the Alto Bowl Preserve, including the Middagh Trail. In particular, the District only scored and considered a proposed project from a single biking organization, meanwhile rejecting without consideration all proposals from local citizens groups to rehabilitate and improve the condition of the trails, in the Alto Bowl Preserve, despite the fact that each proposal qualified as a legitimate project submission under the Trail Plan.
The petitioner, CVP, is requesting that the court set aside the District's approval for the Project (to allow mountain biking on the Bob Middagh Trail in the Alto Bowl Preserve) until such time as the District has complied fully with the Trails Plan and the requirements under CEQA. We pray that the Court will carefully consider the facts and existing case law, and see the justice in our argument.
A court date to hear this case is presently set for March 16, 2018.