The Contra Costa Times reported last week that the City of Pittsburg certified the environmental document for the Donlon Boulevard extension after nearly two decades of trying. Although the vote was unanimous, the project has vocal resistance. According to the Save Mount Diablo website, the project may induce growth, destroy a “spectacular” ranch and actually create rather than relieve traffic congestion. That group has made clear it does not agree with the City’s action.
Often once an agency has certified its environmental document, right of way acquisition soon follows. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) gives opponents a short window to file a challenge, and once that time has passed, the project can proceed. But the Donlon project’s opponents are unlikely to miss their chance to challenge the project before right of way acqusition starts. And even when the City does begin acquiring property, it doesn’t mean the CEQA challenges are over. Courts have allowed property owners to challenge environmental documents as part of an eminent domain action, and I would not be surprised if that happens here.