Neighborhood groups filed a lawsuit to stop the City of Los Angeles’ fast-tracking an environmental exemption ‘The Boring Company’ hyperloop tunnel under the city.
The lawsuit is in response to the L.A. City Council’s Public Works Committee unanimously approving an April 18 motion to exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act review of the first “proof of concept” section of a private 2.7-mile tunnel to speed cars and people under Sepulveda Boulevard between West L.A. and Culver City.
CEO Elon Musk has been publicizing a cool Instagram video that has already received over 2.5 million views, featuring the first tunnel the Boring Company finished building under Hawthorne. Musk promises that when the Boring Company receives regulatory approvals within two months, the public will be able to take free rides.
But the Instagram posting also lays out the Boring Company’s plan to build extensive tunnel networks connecting 25 hyperloop stations that would extend 39 miles from Long Beach Airport to Sherman Oaks. An animated video released last year envisions a driverless car company steering onto a side-street car pod and then being lowered down to underground tunnels that magnetically whisk cars across town at 130 miles-per-hour.
Pew Charitable Trust reported that federally-funded transportation projects typically take 15-20 years to build, due to competing for federal and state CEQA restrictions that require evaluating the aesthetics and parking impacts of any transportation project.
But the LA Bureau of Engineering staff report states the project scope would not be the first phase of the project and that the scope of the project would only build a section to better understand and refine construction techniques for a larger project. BOE emphasized that Governor Brown had signed Senate Bill 743 in September 2013, which limited CEQA reviews for projects located in areas served by transit.
But according to Street Blog LA, a backlash erupted after Metro CEO Phil Washington who stated that with his organization that is planning its voter-approved Sepulveda Transit Corridor subway along the same general alignment as The Boring Company “must be submitted to Metro for approval.”
Culver City then submitted an impacted party comment letter to the Public Works Committee making the assertion that the proposed exemption was illegal since it was “improperly piecemealing” a very large project into a set of related smaller components.
The LA Times reported that the neighborhoods suing the City claim that California law prohibits state and local government agencies awarding “piecemeal” component authorizations for a major construction project.
The Los Angeles City Council has not voted on the proposed environmental exemption, but a city entity did approve the route the Boring Co. can use to haul-away about 80,000 cubic yards of earth expected to be bored out for the Sepulveda Boulevard tunnel.