Marin Co. rail foes Arnold, Leland resign from NCRA board
- Published Wednesday, October 17, 2007, by the Marin Independent Journal
Marin representatives resign from rail board
By Brad Breithaupt
Marin's two representatives on the North Coast Railroad Authority are
stepping down because the agency meets too far away -- and because of
its legal clash with Novato.
Marin Supervisor Judy Arnold said she and Novato Councilman Jim
Leland are resigning from the posts they have held since summer.
Arnold said she's recommending they be replaced by former Novato
mayor Bernie Meyers and businessman Tom McDonald.
The county's policy calls for opening the posts to other applicants
and perhaps holding public interviews before appointments are made.
Arnold said Meyers and McDonald don't have the time and legal
difficulties she and Leland face.
"That will enable them to fully participate in what's happening and
that will be better for us," Arnold said.
Novato has filed suit against the rail agency, trying to block it
from making safety improvements to train crossings until the agency
completes environmental studies of rail service.
The city says rail would bring no benefits to Novato, but could
trigger noise, traffic and safety problems.
But the city lost its first round Monday, when a Marin Superior Court
judge rejected its petition to immediately halt NCRA's construction
projects that reach north more than 300 miles to Eureka.
The city claimed the rail agency violated state environmental rules
by chopping its rail improvement plan into components without
evaluating the cumulative impact of the project. Further, the suit
says, the plan was crafted amid secrecy, violating state open-meeting
Novato City Manager Dan Keen said city officials were "disappointed
the judge didn't accept our arguments. We felt this was something
that deserved a temporary restraining order."
The city and Ukiah-based North Coast Railroad Authority will be back
in court Dec. 11.
Leland and Arnold were eligible to attend the agency's closed-door
meetings in which it planned strategy to defend itself from Novato's
suit. But both were unable to attend meetings in Willits, Ukiah and
Eureka. Instead, they have participated via teleconference call.
Last week, the agency board's president, Alan Hemphill, asked that
teleconference participation in closed-door meetings be prohibited.
Hemphill said Tuesday he was sorry Arnold and Leland are resigning.
Despite the conflict over Novato, he said both have been cordial and
businesslike board members.
Their close connections to Novato City Hall and the lawsuit "was a
complicating factor," he added.
Contact Brad Breithaupt via e-mail at bbreithaupt@...
IJ reporter Joe Wolfcale contributed to this report.
[BATN: See also:
Comment: NCRA boss blasts NIMBY Novato on anti-train lawsuit
Über-NIMBY Novato protests NCRA rail crossing improvements
Comment: Anti-rail NIMBY Novato explains its lawsuit against NCRA
Anti-SMART NIMBY Novato sues over NCRA track repairs
NIMBY Novato sues NCRA to derail planned freight trains
Novato sues to derail NCRA plan to resume freight train service
Column: Long-dead NCRA's freight plans complicate SMART EIR
SMART to update EIR; re-vote planned for November 2008
Comment: SMART or not -- freight trains coming to Novato
Comment: SMART foes work to whip up freight train fears
Editorial: SMART quiet zones to appease train-phobic NIMBYs
North Coast Railroad Authority dreaming vs everybody else
Opponents using NCRA freight projections to delay, kill SMART
Freight tail of moribund NCRA seeks to wag SMART dog
February '08 SMART re-vote unlikely due to freight study request
Coment: Rail foe Arnold has more questions about SMART
Novato freight train noise fears spur talk of "quiet zones"
Freight trains may return to Sonoma Co. SMART line