Caltrans lawsuit dismissed
A Yuba County judge on Monday granted a request to dismiss a lawsuit - for now - against the California Department of Transportation that challenges the agency's plans to build a new, large-scale regional headquarters in Marysville.
The lawsuit, filed by Yuba Street Ventures LLC and Yuba Street Developers LLC - two local corporate entities with the same managing partner - sought to halt construction of the office complex until more environmental analysis is completed. Yuba Street Ventures leases office space to Caltrans, and the two partnerships own other property in the vicinity of the project.
Yuba County Superior Court Judge Debra Givens tentatively ruled the lawsuit dismissed, but said the suit could be amended and resubmitted. It was originally filed in November.
Caltrans District 3 is headquartered at a 70-year-old building at 703 B St. in Marysville and rents a 54,000-square-foot office building - owned by Yuba Street Ventures - at 720 Yuba St.
The state agency plans to finish construction of the proposed complex in 2008 - the same year its lease with Yuba Street Ventures expires, Caltrans officials have said.
Caltrans District 3, which covers 11 counties in the Sacramento region, is moving forward with plans to build a state-of-the-art facility at its B Street location, which may require demolishing the current Spanish Revival-style building.
Officials say that structure is outdated and that the agency needs to consolidate its regional operations, now spread throughout Marysville, Yuba City and Sacramento.
Plans call for a 230,000-square-foot multistory structure for 776 employees with about 350 parking spaces. Caltrans officials also plan to use an off-site parcel at Ninth and Yuba streets for parking 90 state vehicles.
In the lawsuit, the two Yuba Street entities allege that Caltrans' final environmental analysis of the project, adopted in October, was flawed, partly because the agency - along with the state Department of General Services - failed to properly investigate or provide sufficient solutions to traffic, parking, pedestrian safety and other potential problems.
In doing so, the state violated the California Environmental Quality Act, the lawsuit said.
Attorneys for Caltrans argued that the suit should be dropped because neither Yuba Street Ventures nor Yuba Street Developers had a legal basis for its complaint because the real estate partnerships were looking to protect financial interests, not the environment. Givens denied the request for dismissal on that ground.
Moreover, attorneys for the state argued that Yuba Street Ventures had run out of time to file a lawsuit related to CEQA because of a statute of limitations on such complaints. The contention centered on which entity, Ventures or Developers, had the right to file suit - Yuba Street Developers was added to the suit a month after it originally was filed.
Givens granted Caltrans' request for dismissal on the statue of limitations ground, but said the Yuba Street partnerships could amend their lawsuit and resubmit it.
Another court hearing on the litigation is scheduled for Feb. 27.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Thigpen can be reached at 749-4713. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.