25.11.09

The All New Annotated U of MN v. LRT lawsuit

[Warning: This will try the patience of even the least ADD reader. This is clearly the most insane thing I've ever done on this website. Proceed at your own risk.]

STATE OF MINNESOTA DISTRICT COURT
COUNTY OF HENNEPIN
FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT
CASE TYPE: CIVIL OTHER

REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MINESOTA, )
on its behalf and in the name of the State of Minnesota, )
)
Plaintiff, )
) v.
)
)
METROPOLITAN COUNCIL, )
) Derendam. [NOTE: Google makes .pdfs into HTML, and a lot of the text gets messed up. I am not dedicated enough to fix the typos.]
)

Plaintiff Regents of the University of Minnesota ("the University") for its Complaintagainst Defendant Metropolitan Council ("Metropolitan Council" or "Defendant") states and alleges as follows:

I. NATURE OF THE ACTION

1. This action arises as a result of the Metropolitan Council's proposed construction and operation of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit ("CCLRT") Project. The CCLRT Project is an ll-mile light rail transit line that wil connect downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul, running through the University's East Bank and West Bank Campuses. In 2008 the Metropolitan Council decided that the CCLRT Project would run at-gradc on Washington Avenue, through the very heart of the University's East Bank Campus research and discovery corridor. [Oh! What melodrama! The LRT will drive itself thorugh our very heart, like a stake through a vampire! Oh, my heart! My bleeding heart!]

2. The University brings this action for declaratory and injunctive relief to protect its campus from the adverse effects of thc proposed CCLRT Project. Minnesota law requires Defendant Metropolitan Council to adequatcly address the serious adverse environmental effects of the proposed CCLRT Project and proposc mitigation measures to protect the University. [This is the key to the whole lawsuit. The UMN is using an environmental law to say that the LRT is ruining the enviornment that is the current University campus. It's interesting to me because it makes the 'status quo' of architecture and transportation, in this case a freeway that runs thorugh the 'very heart' of campus, into a scarce environmental resource that must be preserved at all costs.] The Metropolitan Council has failed to do so. Accordingly, the University is carrying out itsfiduciary duty to the citizens of the State of Minnesota to protect its campus from thesc adverseeffects and fulfill its mission of research and discovery, teaching and Icarning, and outreach and public service. [Ahh, yes. The vaunted UMN mission. They might want to add, "and raise tuition while removing the General College, making it very hard for low-income students to get into the school", and "to spin off start-up companies which patent biomedical technology for profit".]

3. The University is a transit-oriented community, with two-thirds of its commuters using bus, bicycle, carpool, or walking options. [Well, you can bet that most of these 2/3 are the support staff and students (and would benefit greatly from a LRT system), and the remaining 1/3 of people are largely the administration and facult (who could care less).] Thc University has long supportcd transportation improvements on its campus, and for nearly a decade has been a key, committed partncr in planning for the CCLRT Project. [If by "key committeed partner" you mean "selfish, whining baby", then, yes.] The University itself is expected to generate approximately 25 to 30 percent of the proposed CCLRT Project's daily riders.

4. Defendant Metropolitan Council has adopted a final environmental impact statement ("FEIS") for the proposed CCLRT Projcct and certified that the FEIS meets state law.In fact, the FEIS does not comply with thc rcquilCments of state law and is inadcquate. The FEIS fails to comply with the Minncsota Environmental Policy Act ("MEP A") bccause it does not adcquately evaluate thc serious adverse environmental impacts of the proposed CCLRT Project on the Univcrsity or the mitigation measures necessary to safeguard the University's campus environmcnt and critical research functions. [Here they are again, the serious environmental impacts. Pay attention, because these are the very heart of this BS lawsuit, and these come up often. Only rarely, however, do we find out specifically what these "serious adverse environmental impacts" really are...]

5. In addition, the Metropolitan Council's proposal to construct and operate the CCLRT Project is likcly to rcsult in the pollution, impairment, or destruction of natural resources protected undcr the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act ("MERA"). [When I see the words "natural resources" I think of things like forests, oceans, bears, etc. I do not think of research on the UMN campus as a "natural resource".] The proposed CCLRT Project will impair natural resources on the Univcrsity's East Bank Campus by interfering with valuable and sensitive research, increasing noisc and vibration during CCLRT Projcctconstruction and operation, and detracting from thc currcnt setting and esthetic quality of the University's historical districts.

6. To protect its campus, the University seeks effective mitigation [Read: "crapload of tax dollars"] to address the following serious effects of the proposed CCLRT Project:
. the adverse impact of vibration, both construction-related and from ongoing operations;
. the advcrsc impact of electromagnetic interference;
. the adverse impact on historic rcsourccs; and
. other adverse construction impacts, including noise.

7. The Metropolitan Council is actively seeking temporary and permanent easements on property owncd and used by the University for construction and operation of the proposed CCLRT Project. However, property owned by the University and already dedicated to University use is not subject to the exercise of eminent domain by the Metropolitan CounciL. Accordingly, the University sccks a judgment declaring that the Metropolitan Council may not, for puroses of construction or operation of the proposed CCLRT Project, exercise eminent domain over property already dedicated for use by the University. [It's ironic that the U of MN, a well-known user and abuser of eminent domain law, is being hoisted on its own petard. Needless to say, they're not taking it very well.]

8. The Metropolitan Council has ignored or failed to offer adequate responses toconccrns thc University has raised repeatcdly regarding the proposed CCLRT Project. Without intervcntion by this Court to requirc implementation of effective environmental mitigation measurcs, the CCLRT Project may destroy the public's enormous investment in the University's rescarch facilities and constrain the University's future use of those facilities and other University property, thereby jeopardizing one of the State's most important economic engines. [This is very apocalyptic, no? Here the poor public, represented by a some sort of fancy machine, is being destroyed by the horror that is public transit. If only the public can be saved!]

II. I'ARTIES

9. Plaintiff, the Univcrsity, is an institution of higher education and a constitutional corporation of the State of Minncsota, Minn. Const., Art. XII, § 3, with its principal place of business at 202 Morril Hall, 100 Church Street S.E., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455. 3

10. Defendant, Metropolitan Council, is a political subdivision of the State of Minnesota created by Minn. Stat. § 473.123, with its principal place of business at 390 Robert Street North, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101. Thc Metropolitan Council is a regional planing agency serving the Twin Cities metropolitan area and intends to build and opcrate the CCLRT Project. Il.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

11. This Court has jurisdiction over the claims against the Metropolitan Council that arise under the Minnesota Constitution and laws of the State of Minnesota, specifically MEPA,Minn. Stat. § 116D.04, subds. 10 and 13; MERA, Minn. Stat. § 1168.03; and the Minncsota Declaratory Judgment Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 555.01-.02, .12.

12. Venue lies in this district under MEPA, Minn. Stat. § 116D.04, subds. 10 and 13, and the Minnesota Declaratory Judgment Act, Minn. Stat. ch. 555, because part of the proposed CCLRT Project would be undertakcn in this district.

13. Venue lies in this district undcr MERA, Minn. Stat. § 1168.03, subd. 4, because the conduct of the Metropolitan Council that is likely to cause pollution, impairment, or destruction of the natural resources of thc State of Minnesota wil occur, in part, in this district. iV.

ALLEGATIONS COMMON TO ALL CLAIMS

A. THE UNIVERSITY'S LONGSTANDING SUPPORT FOR A CCLRT PROJECT TIIAT DOES NOT DAMAGE THE UNIVERSITY

14. For more than two decades, the Univcrsity has been an active parner with Metro Transit and othcrs to develop and implement an integratcd transportation system that scrvcs not only thc University, but the entire metropolitan area. The University itself is a transit-oricntcd community, with two-thirds of its commuters using bus, bicycle, carool, or walking options toreach thc Minneapolis Campus. As a result, the Univcrsity has long supported the developmcnt of reasonable and creativc transportation solutions that will best serve the more than 80,000 students, faculty, staff, patients, and guests that visit the Minneapolis Campus every day. [I have a really reasonable and creative transportation solution... How about we take the 4-lane, ever-clogged Washington Avenue/freeway that runs through the heart of campus and replace it with a high-capacity, fast-moving train and a dedicated bus-only lane?......... [crickets chirping]..........]

15. The University alonc is cxpccted to generatc approximately 25 to 30 percent ofthc proposed CCLRT Project's daily riders. [Which is why its so ironic that the University might scuttle the project.]

16. For nearly a decadc, the University has been a constrctive parner in the planning process for the proposed CCLRT Project. The University's support for the CCLRT Project dates to at least 2001, when the Board of Regents passed a resolution advocating the proposed CCLRT Project. An active participant in the Central Corridor Management Committec, the University has committed substantial human and financial resources ovcr the past decade to the proposed CCLRT Project planing effort. To date, those resources total approximately $2 millon andinclude thousands of hours of University professional staff time, faculty time, and other expenditures. [This is an interesting angle. The U is trying to blame the Met Council for the fact that its highly inefficent bureaucracy has spent countless hours and dollars trying to figure out how best to screw up the LRT project. Eventually, as this lawsuit progresses, the U will try to bill taxpayers for all this, countless, opaque red tape.]

17. Although thc Univcrsity remains fully committed to effective public transit and to the proposed CCLRT Project in particular [Read: "For me to poop on"], the University's primar obligation and responsibility must be to advance its public mission of research and discovery, teaching and learning, and outreach and public service, as wcll as to protect the academic activities and safety of its faculty,staff, and students. [Here is hte rise of a new bugbear: the threatening train! It will run over all the students, mowing them down like ants. Please help us protect "the academic activites" from the angry, mean train!] The CCLRT Project must not degrade the University's mission.





[The noble University of Minnesota saves the beautiful faculty members from the Evil Met Council and its horrible train.]



B. TIlE METROPOLITAN COUNCIL'S ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW PROCESS FOR THE CCLRT PROJECT

18. Study of light rail as a possible transit option connecting downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul began in the early 1990s.

19. In or about July 2001 the University Board of Regents unanimously and expressly rejected any Washington Avenue at-grade alignment on the East Bank Campus for the proposed CCLRT Project. Any proposed CCLRT Project alignment along Washington Avenue on the East Ban Campus, the Board of Regents stated, must be below grade in a tunnel. The Board of Regents recommended that if CCLRT Project planners decided to study an at-grade alignment on thc East Ban Campus, such an alignment should not travel along Washington Avenue but should serve the northern portion of the campus.

20. In or about April 2006 Defendant Metropolitan Council, the Ramsey County Railroad Authority, and the Federal Transit Administration ("FTA") jointly prepared a singleAlternatives Analysis and Draft Environmental Impact Statement ("DEIS") for thc proposcd CCLRT Project. Defendant Metropolitan Council prepared the joint DEIS in an attempt to satisfy the requirements of MEP A. FT A prepared the joint DEIS in an attempt to satisfY therequirements of the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4370h. The DEIS evaluated several alternatives, including a light rail transit option along an 11 -milecorridor connecting downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. PauL. Thc light trail transit option that the DEIS evaluated became known as the proposcd CCLRT Project. The proposed CCLRTProject that the DEIS evaluated included a tunnel under Washington Avenue on the University's East Ban Campus, not an at-grade alignment.

21. In or about June 2006 the University submitted extensive comments on the DEIS to Defendant Metropolitan Council and FTA. Consistcnt with the Board of Regents' action in orabout July 2001, the University's comments on the DEIS supported a tunnel under Washington Avenue or an at-grade alternative that served the northern portion of the East Ban Campus. Even assuming a tunnel under Washington Avenue, the Univcrsity's comments expressly statcd that vibration from construction and operation of the proposed CCLRT Project would adversely affect the University's research facilitics located adjacent to or in thc vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus. The comments also statcd that thc DEIS did not explore methods adequate to mitigate the adverse effects of the proposed CCLRT Project on the University. [Here we learn that, even under the original plan, the U would have had problems with some machines. The question then becomes, not that elecromagenticism is a big surprise, but that the U isn't getting its way about the alignment, route, or felt institutionally slighted.]

22. In or about Fcbruary 2008 Defendant Metropolitan Council and FTA published noticcs of intcnt to prepare a Supplemental Draft Environmcntal Impact Statcment for thc proposed CCLRT Projcct ("SDElS"). The notices also discussed the scope of the proposed SDEIS. In the notices, the Metropolitan Council and FTA explained that they were considcringcertain changes to the proposed CCLRT Project evaluated in the DEIS. One of the changes wasto build and operate the proposcd CCLRT Project on an at-grade alignment along WashingtonAvenue, rather than in a tunnel running under Washington Avenue on the University's East Ban Campus.

23. Dcfendant Metropolitan Council explained in the notice that the SDEIS was necessary under MEPA to evaluate the environmental effects of an at-grade CCLRT Project alignment on Washington Avenue rather than in the tunnel evaluated in the DEIS. FTA explained in the notice that thc SDEIS was necessary under NEP A to evaluate the environmental effects of an at-grade CCLRT Project alignment on Washington Avenue rather than in the tunnel evaluated in the DEIS.

24. In or about March 2008 the University submitted extensive comments on the proposed scope of the SDEIS to Dcfendant Metropolitan Council and FT A. The concerns stated in the comments included, but were not limited to, the following: (a) the adverse effects of vibration and electromagnctic interference ("EMI") from the proposed CCLRT Project on the University's sensitive research facilities located adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus; (b) the adverse effects of the CCLRT Project on historic resources; [This is easily my least favorite of the U's arguments: the idea that there is something 'historic' about the current freeway/avenue system going through campus. In reality, campus along Washing Avenue is a terrible place to be, and is far from the original vision of the campus 'historical' mall.] and (c) the adverse effects of the CCLRT Project on traffic, especially pertaining to the University's hospitals and clinics. [Traffic problems in the lawsuit are never about the commuter traffic into and out of the administration parking lots, but always about ambulances carrying mortally wounded people to the hospital. In fact, I'd bet that ambulances would be able to use the transit and bus lanes?] Thc comments also stated that the SDE1S must explore methods adequate to mitigate the adverse effects of thc proposed CCLRT Project on the Univcrsity and evaluate rcasonable alternativcs to the proposed CCLRT Projcct, including an alternative to an at-grade alignment on Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus.

25. In or about June 2008 the University Board of Regents rcsolvcd to pursue a proposed CCLRT Project with an at-grade transit/pcdcstrian mall on Washington Avenue through the East Ban Campus. The Board of Regents viewed both the tunnel under WashingtonAvenue and an at-grade northern alignment on the East Bank Campus as feasiblc and reasonable alternatives, but recognized that Defendant Metropolitan Council had selected the WashingtonAvenue at-grade alternative with a transit/pedestrian mall as the locally preferred alternative forthe proposed CCLRT Project. The Board of Regents further resolved that its decision to pursuethe at-grade transit/pcdestrian mall on Washington Avenue through the East Bank Campus was contingent upon the execution of all ncccssar agreements needed to achicve, among other things, viable, effective, and efficient mcasurcs to mitigate the proposed CCLRT Project's adversc environmental effccts.[Oh, here they are again.]

26. In or about July 2008 the Univcrsity and Defendant Metropolitan Council entered into a Memorandwn of Understanding rcgarding the proposed CCLRT Projcct. In the Memorandum of Understanding, the University expressed support for the proposed CCLRT Projcct and a willngness to consider, subjcct to the further consideration and final approval by the University Board of Regents, the possibility of donating certain property rights necessary for the Metropolitan Council to build and operate the proposed CCLRT Project. [Oh, how generous it is for one state institution to 'donate' to another the land along the street for a transit stop. Actually, I wonder why Washington Avenue and the sidewalks alongside it aren't public rights-of-way, just like any other street in the city? Are they the sovereign property of the school, no longer part and parcel of the State of Minnesota?] However, the Board of Regents considered any such donation of property rights to be contingent upon a binding commitment of Defendant Metropolitan Council to implcment mitigation measures that would be cffective in addressing the adverse effects of the proposed CCLRT Project on the University.

27. In or about July 2008 Defendant Metropolitan Council and FTA completed the SDEIS and made the docwnent available for public comment. Defendant Metropolitan Council prepared the SDEIS in an attempt to satisfy the requiremcnts of MEP A. FTA prepared the SDEIS in an attempt to satisfY the requirements ofNEP A.

28. Defendant Mctropolitan Council stated in the SDElS that many significant environmental impacts of the proposed CCLRT Project remained unresolved, but promised to ana1yzc those impacts and appropriate mitigation measures for the first time in a final environmental impact statcment. [I can't wait for a list of these "many significant impacts". Can you?]

29. In or about August 2008 the University submitted extensive comments on the SDEIS to Defendant Metropolitan Council and FTA. The University's comments stated that theSDEIS did not comply with the requirements of MEP A. In paricular, the commcnts stated that the SDEIS failed to offer adequate analysis of nwnerous significant adverse effects of theproposed CCLRT Project on the University, including but not limited to: (a) the impact of vibration, both construction-related and from ongoing operations, on the Univcrsity's sensitiveresearch; (b) the impact of EMI on the University's sensitive research; (c) the impact on historic resources; [Here they are again... the 'historic resources' that the school cares so deeply about.] (d) construction impacts, including noise; and ( e) traffc impacts. The comments also stated that thc SDEIS did not explore methods adequate to mitigate the adverse cffects of the proposed CCLRT Project on the University.

30. In or about December 2008 the Mctropolitan Council provided thc University with what it termed an "early review" draft of a final environmcntal impact statcment on the proposed CCLRT Project and requested the University's comments on that document. The early review draft final environmental impact statement did not address many of thc issues prcviously identified in the University's comments on thc notice of intent to prepare an SDEIS and the SDEIS itself.

31. In or about January 2009 thc Univcrsity submitted extensive comments on the early review draft final environmental impact statement to the Mctropolitan CounciL. The University's comments stated that the early review draft final environmental impact statement did not comply with MEPA. [Here at long last is the list of actual adverse effects of the Central Corridor!] In particular, the comments stated that the early review draft environmental impact statement failed to offer adequate analysis of numerous significant adverse effects of the proposed CCLRT Projcct on the University, including but not limited to: (a) the impact of vibration, both construction-related and from ongoing operations, on the University's sensitive research; (b) the impact of EM I on the University's sensitive research; [So far, so good.] (c) the lack of a final analysis of impacts on historic resources; (d) construction impacts, including noise; and (e) traffic impacts. [I'm far less sold on any of this stuff. Construction happens. The U's sense of history is atrocious. And the alleged impacts on traffic are misguided.] The comments also stated that the early review draft cnvironmental impact statement did not explore mcthods adequate to mitigate the adverse effects of thc proposed CCLRT Project on the Univcrsity and failed to address the issues raised in thc University's previous comments on the SDE1S.

32. In or about Junc 2009 Defendant Metropolitan Council and FTA publishcd notices of availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement ("FEIS") for thc proposcdCCLRT Project. Defendant Metropolitan Council prepared the FEIS in an attcmpt to satisfy thc requirements of MEP A. FTA prepared the FEIS in an attempt to satisfY the requirements of NEPA

33. In or about July 2009 the University submitted extensive comments on the FEIS to Defendant Metropolitan Council and FT A. The comments stated that the FEIS did not comply with the requirements of MEP A. In particular, the comments statcd that the FEIS failed to offer adequate analysis ofnwnerous significant advcrse effects of the proposed CCLRT Project on the University, including but not limited to: (a) the impact of vibration, both construction-rclated and from ongoing operations, on the University's sensitive research; (b) the impact of EMI on the University's sensitive research; (c) the impact on historic rcsources; and (d) construction impacts, including noise. The commcnts also stated that the FEIS did not explore methods adequate to mitigate the adverse effects of the proposed CCLRT Project on the University and failed to address the comments that the University raised rcpeatedly throughout the cnvironmental review process.

34. On August 26, 2009, the Metropolitan Council determined that the FEIS was adequate under MEPA.

C. THE PROPOSED CCLRT PROJECT'S SERIOUS ADVERSE EFFECTS ON TIlE UNIVERSITY'S RESEARCH MISSION

(i) The University's Research Mission

35. Beginning in the nineteenth century and throughout its entire history the University has expended substantial public funds, with the approval of the Minnesota Legislature, to establish and maintain structurcs and facilities that serve the University's public mission of research and discovery, teaching and lcarning, and outreach and public service. [The U is a boy scout!]

36. In 2008 the University and its faculty were awarded nearly $700 million II competitively-fundcd grants and contracts for research. In addition, the University currently has more than 280 revcnue-generating technology transfer agreements with business and industry and has established successful start-up companies over the last five years. The University servesas the State's primary research institution, rcceiving approximately 98 percent of all federally-sponsored research grants awarded to higher cducation institutions in Minnesota. This research translates into invaluable real-world technologies, medical advances, and economicdevelopment. The Univcrsity's rcsearch plays a vital role in thc economy of the State and the region, and supports more than 20,000 jobs.

37. The Univcrsity has constructcd, cxpandcd, renovatcd, and maintained numerous laboratory buildings and research facilities adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenuc on the East Ban Campus. There are nearly 100 laboratory faci├Čities in 17 buildings adjacent to or in thc vicinity of the proposed CCLRT Project route on the University's East Bank Campus. [Well, this is precisely the point of the LRT route choice. They are trying to make transit convenient for the vast majority of people on campus.]

38. Maintaining the existing environmental conditions adjacent to or in thc vicinity of Washington Avcnue on the East Bank Campus is critical to the University's mission because itmakes possible the University's many currcnt and planed research endeavors involving highly scnsitive laboratory facilities and equipment.

39. For example, Professor Emad Ebbini, whose laboratory facility is locatcd in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science building adjacent to Washington Avenue and along the proposed CCLRT Project route, is partnering with faculty from the Civil EngineeringDepartment and the Medical School to conduct experiments exploring new methods to detect skin cancer. Professor Ebbini's research requires that the existing environmental condition in the vicinity of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science building be maintaincd. [I don't know where Ebbini's lab actually is, but the Electrical Engineering/Computer Science Buildings is NOT located directly on Washington Avenue. The building does go underground (near where the U's original tunnel would have been), but its closest exterior wall is actually about 150 feet from where the train would be located.]

40. Professor David Blank is conducting research in Kolthoff Hall, also located adjacent to Washington Avenue and along the proposed CCLRT Project route, using an elaborate laser device he constructed for measuring the velocity and absorption of light waves. Professor Blank's research requires that the existing environmental condition in the vicinity of Kolthoff Hall be maintained. [Kolthoff Hall is closer to Washington, right on the main campus mall area. What the U isn't saying is how much it might cost to move Blank's "elaborate laser device," nor what sorts of disruptions or sensitivities it might have.]

41. The Hasselmo Hall Nuclear Magnetic Resonance ("NMR") facility, also locatcd adjacent to Washington Avenue and along the proposcd CCLRT Project route, supports $110 million in grant research and 160 rcscarchers across 22 University departments, as well as undergraduate and graduate teaching activities. The cutting-edge research conducted in thisfacility has advanced discoveries and treatments in the areas of cancer, AIDS, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, paralysis, diabetes, stroke, infectious disease, drug discovery, bone disease, and Alzheimer's. This rescarch requires that the existing environmental condition in the vicinity of Hasselmo Hall be maintained. [The U claims that the NMR facility is "less than 80 feet" from the proposed tracks. That's true of Hasselmo Hall. I don't know where the actual NMR might be within the building. Anyway, these sorts of issues are valid problems.]

42. The existing environmental condition adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus makes possible the University's ongoing use of its research laboratory facilities and equipment in the future, allowing the University to retain and recruit leading faculty researchers from around the world. Upon information and bclicf, futurc research facilities and cquipment wil be even more sensitive than existing research facilities and equipment to thc environmental condition adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenueon the East Ban Campus. [Here's where the lawsuit starts to become unhinged. Here you have the claim that future research that would be disrupted is going to be located next to the LRT line.]

(ii) The Proposed CCLRT Project's Scrious Adverse Effects on the University's Research Mission

43. Defendant Mctropolitan Council intends that thc proposcd CCLRT Project will run at-grade on Washington Avenue through the very heart of the University's East Bank Campus research and discovery corridor. Some of the Univcrsity research facilities adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue are located as fcw as approximately 30 feet from the planned CCLRT Projcct tracks. [A little specificity would be great. Are we talking about some poor grad student with a laptop?]

44. In constructing the proposed CCLRT Project, the Metropolitan Council will degrade the existing environmental condition adjacent to or II the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus.

45. The FEIS acknowledges that vibration from construction of the proposed CCLRT Project wil have an advcrsc cffcct on the University's existing sensitive research conductcd in facilities located adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus. Every construction process for the proposed CCLRT Project listed in the FEIS has a vibrationlevel that exceeds applicablc standards and will interfere with the University's existing rcsearch equipment. [This first list of complaints all has to do with the construction period, where (presumably) machines will be operating re-doing the roadway. There are two ironies about this. First, WAshington Avenue is going to be re-surfaced at some point. Like all streets, it requires a lot of periodic maintenance. Second, the University itself is well-known for its huge construction projects. The giant football stadium, any of the new buildings like the new Science Classroom building, only 100 feet from Kolthoff Hall and Professor Blank's home-made laser machine. Or the expansion to the Weisman Art Museum, scheduled to be done along Washington Avenue in the vicinity of many research facilities, such as my laptop computer in my bike bag and students walking past and thinking.]

46. Upon information and belief, vibration during construction of the proposed CCLRT Project may adversely affect research endeavors that the University may undertake in facilities adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus.

47. Upon information and belief, vibration during construction of the proposed CCLRT Project may irreparably damage cxtrcmely valuable or one-of-a-kind research equipment or facilities, or both, locatcd adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avcnue on the East Bank Campus. [Here's an example of lawsuit creep, where future possible but not yet existing research and "extremely valuable one-of-a-kind" research is being destroyed by the evils of vibration and transit construction.]

48. The FEIS fails to providc adequate analysis of numerous significant advcrsc effects on the University during construction of thc proposed CCLRT Projcct, including but not limited to significant adverse effccts on the University's research mission.

49. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposed any mitigation measures adequate under MEP A to address the adverse effects on University facilities adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus during construction of the proposed CCLRT Project.

50. Defendant Mctropolitan Council has not proposed any mitigation measures adequate under MERA to preserve thc existing environmental condition adjacent to or in thevicinity of Washington Avenuc on the East Bank Campus during construction of the proposcd CCLRT Project.

51. In operating the proposed CCLRT Projcct, the Metropolitan Council will degrade the existing environmental condition adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus. [The rest of this complaint list has to do with operations once the LRT is constructed. Again, the U claims that 'future' and planned research is threatened, a claim made more effective because its impossible to prove.]

52. Operation of thc proposed CCLRT Projcct will add new high frequency vibration to the existing cnvironmental condition adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus. The addition of ncw high frequency vibration will adversely affect the University's many currcnt and planned rcsearch endeavors involving existing facilities andequipmcnt located adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on thc East Bank Campus.

53. Upon information and belief, the addition of new high frequency vibration from operation of the proposed CCLRT Project wil adversely affect future research endeavors that the University may undertake in facilities adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on theEast Bank Campus.

54. Operation of the proposed CCLRT Project will result in changes in the existing electromagnetic fields adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus. These changes in e1cctromagnetic ficlds create electromagnetic interference ("EMI") that will adversely affect thc University's many current and planned research endeavors involving existing facilities and equipment locatcd adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus.

55. Upon information and belief, changes in the existing electromagnetic fields and the resulting EMI from operation of thc proposcd CCLRT Project will adversely affect futurerescarch cndcavors that the University may undertake in facilities located adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on thc East Bank Campus.

56. The FEIS fails to provide adequate analysis of numerous significant adverse effects on the University during operation of the proposed CCLRT Project, including but notlimited to significant adverse effects on the U nivcrsity' s rcscarch mission.

57. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposed any mitigation measures adequate under MEPA to address the adverse effects on University facilities adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus during opcration of the proposed CCLRT Project.

58. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposed any mitigation measures adequate undcr MERA to preserve the existing environmental condition adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue on the East Bank Campus during operation of the proposed CCLRT Project. (ii) The Proposcd CCLRT Project's Adverse Effects on thc Historic Setting of the University's East Bank Campus.


[A view of Washington Avenue running through campus from 1948. Note the presence of a streetcar. Img. MNHS Collections]

59. The East Bank Campus includcs arcas designatcd by the Board of Regents as historic districts, including but not limited to thc Campus Mall Historic District and the Old Campus Historic District, also known as the Knoll District. The East Ban Campus also includes areas, including but not limitcd to the Campus Mall Historic District and the OldCampus Historic District, which arc listcd on the National Register of Historic Places or are eligible for listing on the National Rcgistcr of Historic Places. [This is the historic preservation section of the lawsuit. The U is claiming that the oldest part of the campus will be damaged by the LRT, even though this part of the campus isn't anywhere near the

60. Setting is a critical element in the listing criteria for the National Register of Historic Places and in determining whether an area is eligible for listing on the National Rcgister of Historic Places. Whcn determining whether to list an area as an historic district, the Univcrsity's Board of Regents also considers an area's sctting.

61. Each historic district on the University campus functions as a whole, with a longstanding distinct and cohesive feel, making cach district unique. [Well, this is an interesting idea. Of course, the part of campus with the richest historical legacy was the original Northrup Mall, which originally had a streetcar going down Washington Avenue. Back in the 60s, the University changed it, added 4 lane freeway bridge, and cut off pedestrian access, essentially turning the heart of campus into an unpeople'd freeway.]

62. Construction and operation of the proposed CCLRT Project wil adversely affect the setting of the University's historic districts. For example, the increase in average daily traffic associated with construction and operation ofthc proposed CCLRT Project will adversely affect the existing setting and esthetic quality of the Campus Mall Historic District and the Old CampusHistoric District. [Currently, the U of MN campus has a major problem with traffic and cars moving throughout the campus. t the a

63. The FEIS fails to offer adequate analysis of numerous significant adverse effects on the University's historic districts during construction of the proposed CCLRT Project.

64. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposed adequate mitigation measures under MEPA to address the advcrse effects on the University's historic districts during construction of the proposed CCLRT Project.

65. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposed adequate mitigation measures under MERA to preserve the existing cnvironmental condition in the University's historic districts during construction of the proposed CCLRT Project.

66. The FEIS fails to provide adequate analysis of numerous significant adverse effects on the University's historic districts during operation of the proposed CCLRT Project.

67. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposcd adcquate mitigation measures undcr MEPA to address the adversc cffccts on the University's historic districts during operation of the proposed CCLRT Project.

68. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposed adequate mitigation measures under MERA to prcscrve the existing environmental condition in thc University's historicdistricts during operation ofthc proposed CCLRT Project. (iv) The Proposed CCLRT Project's Adverse Effccts on thc University From Construction Noise

69. Constrction of the proposed CCLRT Project will generate noise on the University campus. [This is a particularly ironic complaint given that the new U of MN stadium has routinely creates loud noises that can be heard as far away as Saint Paul. Also, the U constructs buildings on campus constantly. This doesn't seem to be a huge problem.]

70. The FEIS fails to offer adequate analysis of the noise on the Univcrsity campus caused by construction ofthc proposed CCLRT Project.

71. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposed adequate mitigation measures under MEP A to address the adverse noisc effects on the University campus during constructionofthc proposed CCLRT Project.

72. Defendant Metropolitan Council has not proposed adequate mitigation measures under MERA to preserve the existing noisc condition on the University campus during construction of the proposed CCLR T Proj ect.

D. TEMPORARY AND PERMANENT EASEMENTS REQUIRED FOR CCLRT I'ROJECT CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION

73. The Univcrsity owns and maintains structurcs and facilities on the East Bank Campus and West Bank Campus (collectively, the "Minneapolis Campus"). These facilities are essential to the University's public mission of research and discovery, tcaching and learing, and outreach and public service. [Do these structures and facilities include Washington Avenue/State Highway 122? No they do not.]

74. The Univcrsity also owns and maintains a transit corridor between the Minneapolis Campus and the St. Paul Campus to provide for the safe, convenient, and rapid transportation between the campuses. [Yes, the U built its own "private" transit system. That's typical of their self-absorbed attitude, I think.]

75. Dcfcndant Metropolitan Council intends that the CCLRT Project will run at-grade on Washington Avenue in close proximity to nwnerous University facilities on the East Bank Campus.

76. Defendant Metropolitan Council intends that the CCLRT Project wil run along a section of the University's transit corridor between the Minneapolis Campus and the St. Paul Campus. [Really?]

77. Defendant Metropolitan Council will require temporary and permanent easements on property owned and used by the University on the Minneapolis Campus that the Metropolitan Council deems necessary for the construction or operation, or both, of the proposed CCLRT Project.

78. The University is under no statutory, contractual, or other legal requirement to providc the Mctropolitan Council with temporary or permanent easemcnts on property owned orused by the University that the Metropolitan Council deems necessary for use in the construction or operation of the proposed CCLRT Project.

CAUSES OF ACTION

COUNT I FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH MEPA

79. The University restates and incorporates by reference the allegations II paragraphs I through 78 above.

80. MEPA requires that for every major governmental action where there is a potential for significant environmental effccts, a responsible governmental unit must prepare a
detailed environmental impact statement beforc the action proceeds. The environmental impact statement must be analytical rather than encyclopedic, describe the proposed action, analyze its significant environmcntal impacts, discuss appropriate alternatives, and explore methods adequate to mitigate the adverse cnvironmental impacts of the proposed action. MEP A, Minn. Stat. § 1 16D.04, subd. 2a.

81. The proposed CCLRT Project is a major "governmental action" as dcfined in MEPA, Minn. Stat. § 116D.04.

82. The proposed CCLRT Project has the "potential for significant environmental effects" within the meaning ofMEPA, Minn. Stat. § 116D.04.

83. Defendant Metropolitan Council is both the proposer of the CCLRT Project and the responsible governmental unit entrusted with preparing a detailed environmental impact statement analyzing the CCLRT Project under MEPA, Minn. Stat. § 116D.04

84. The FEIS fails to analyze adequately the significant environmental impacts of the proposed CCLRT Project on the University, discuss appropriate alternatives, and explore methods adequate to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of the proposed CCLRT Projecton the University. As a result, the FEIS fails to comply with MEPA, Minn. Stat. §§ 116D.OI-.11, and its implementing rules, Minn. Rules ch. 4410.

85. The Univcrsity is entitled to a dcclaratory judgment that the Metropolitan Council has failed to comply with MEPA. Minn. § i 16D.04, subd. 10.

86. The University is entitled to a judgment requiring the Metropolitan Council toprepare an adequatc environmental impact statement for the proposed CCLRT Project under MEPA. Minn. § 1 16D.04, subd. 13.

87. The University is entitlcd to injunctive relief restraining the Metropolitan Council from taking any further action regarding the proposcd CCLRT Project pending compliance with MEPA. Minn. § 116D.04, subd. 13.

COUNT II

PROTECTION OF NATURAL RESOURCESUNDER MERA AND MEPA

88. The Univcrsity restates and incorporates by reference the allegations II paragraphs I through 78 abovc.

89. MERA authorizes any person to bring a civil action for declaratory or equitablerclief in the name of the State of Minnesota against any person for the protection of natural resources located within the State from pollution, impairment, or destruction. MERA, Minn. Stat. § 1168.03. See also MEPA, Minn. Stat. § i 16D.04, subd. 6 (prohibiting State actions significantly affccting the quality of the environment whcre such action is likely to cause pollution, impairmcnt, or destruction ofthe natural resources ofthc State of Minnesota).

90. "Pollution, impairment or destruction" is any conduct that violates or is likely to violate "any environmental quality standard, limitation, rulc, order, license, stipulationagreement, or permit of the state or any instrumentality, agency, or political subdivision thereofwhich was issued prior to the date the alleged violation occurred or is likely to occur." MERA, Minn. Stat. § 1168.02, subd. 5; MEPA, Minn. Stat. § 116D.04, subd. 1a(b).

91 i. "Pollution, impairment or destruction" is also any conduct that "materially adversely affects or is likely to materially adversely affect the environment." MERA, Minn. Stat. § 1168.02, subd. 5; MEPA, Minn. Stat. § i 16D.04, subd. 1a(b).

92. Thc University and the Metropolitan Council are "persons" as defined in MERA, Minn. Stat. § 1 16B.02, subd. 2.

93. The existing environmental condition of the University's East Bank Campus adjacent to or in the vicinity of Washington Avenue, including but not limited to existing air,quietude, historical, scenic, and csthetic resources, is a "natural resource" as defined in MERA, § 11 6B.02, subd. 4. [If I had millions of dollars to file these kinds of baseless lawsuits, I could theoretically block any construction project under this same kind of 'definition.' Any change of any kind would constitute a violation of 'natural resources. A lawyer friend of mine told me, however, that the only requirement of Federal (and presumably state) environmental law is that projects 'study' the impacts of proejcts on their environment. They are under no obligation to actually choose the path that would protect the environment. (In fact, governments routinely choose the most damaging option; see, for example, many industrial projects.) So, presumably, this lawsuit is trying to argue that the EIS doesn't adequately study its environmental impacts. Of course, I think about the reductio ad absurdum side of this. If everything is an 'natural resource', how much study of the 'environment' do you need to do?]

94. Defendant Metropolitan Council's proposed CCLRT Project is likely to violate an cnvironmental quality standard or have a matcrial advcrse effect on natural resources within the meaning of MERA by, among other things, increasing vibration levels on thc East Bank Campus during construction and operation of the CCLRT Project, increasing electromagnetic fields on thc East Bank Campus during operation of the CCLRT Project, detracting from the existingsetting and esthetic quality of historical districts on the East Bank Campus, interfering with valuable and sensitivc research conducted at University facilities adjaccnt to or in the vicinity ofWashington Avenue on thc East Bank Campus, and increasing noise on the East Bank Campus during construction of the CCLRT Project.

95. The University is entitled to a declaratory judgment that the Metropolitan Council's proposed CCLRT Project is likely to violate an environmental quality standard or have a material adverse effect on natural resources within the meaning of MERA and MEP A. Minn. Stat. § 1168.07; Minn. Stat. § 1 16D.04, subd. 13.

96. The University is cntitled to injunctive relief imposing such conditions as necessary to ensure that the Mctropolitan Council's proposed CCLRT Project wil not violate anenvironmental quality standard or have a material adverse effect on natural resources within the meaning of MER A and MEPA. Minn. Stat. § 1168.07; Minn. Stat. § 1 16D.04, subd. 13.


COUNT II

MINNESOTADECLATORY JUDGMENT ACT

97. Thc University rcstates and incorporates by reference the allegations II paragraphs 1 through 78 above.

98. Under the Minnesota Declaratory Judgment Act, Minn. Stat. ch. 555, any person is entitled to obtain a declaration of rights, status, or other legal relations affected by the Minnesota Constitution or by any statute if a declaratory judgment or decree would terminate theuncertainty or controversy giving rise to a eause of action.

99. The University and the Mctropolitan Council are "persons" as defined by the Minnesota Declaratory Judgment Act, Minn. Stat. § 555.13.

100. In 1851, the Lcgis1ative Assembly of the Tcrritory of Minnesota established the University and its governing body, the Board of Regents. Minn. Territorial Laws 1851, ch. 3.The Minnesota Constitution, Art. XII, § 3, provides that "(aJll rights, immunities, franchises andendowments" granted or conferred upon the University before enactmcnt of the Constitution in 1857 "are perpetuatcd unto the university."

101. Undcr the Minnesota Constitution, the Board of Regents possesses the power andauthority to select, manage, and control all University property. The Minnesota Legislature has endorsed and ratified the authority of thc Board of Regents to acquire land for the use of the University.

102. Defendant Metropolitan Council will require temporary and permanent easements on property owned and used by thc University on the Minneapolis Campus for the construction or operation, or both, of the proposed CCLRT Project. For example, Defendant Metropolitan Council intends that the proposed CCLRT Project run, for a portion of its route, on a section ofthe University's transit corridor on the Minneapolis Campus. Thc Board of Regents has already established a transit corridor bctween the Minneapolis Campus and the St. Paul Campus for safe,convenient, and rapid transportation.

103. The Board of Rcgents has the responsibility to protect Univcrsity property and to ensure that the proposed CCLRT Project adequately safcguards the University's public mission of research and discovery, teaching and learing, and outreach and public service.

104. Property owned by the Univcrsity and already dedicated to the University's use is not subject to eminent domain by Defendant Metropolitan CounciL. The University property that the Metropolitan Council would require to build or operate the proposed CCLRT Project along thc alignment that the FEIS describcs is, in fact, dedicated to the University's use.

105. Under Minnesota's prior public use doctrine, a government entity possessing thepower of eminent domain may not, as a general rule, condcmn public property or property that is already devoted to a public use unless such authority is expressly or impliedly granted by statute. A general grant of authority to condemn property is insuffcient to intcrferc with an alrcady existing public use.

106. The Minnesota Legislature has not expressly provided that the Metropolitan Council may exercise emincnt domain over property owned by thc Univcrsity and alrcady dedicated to the University's use.

107. The University's constitutional right and responsibility to manage, control, and protect University property supersedes or outweighs any express or implied statutory authority that the Metropolitan Council may claim to have to condemn University property.

108. The proposed CCLRT Project is not a greater public necessity than the University's existing public mission of research and discovcry, teaching and learing, and outreach and public service, and the Board of Regents will consent to the CCLRT Project only if Defendant Metropolitan Council provides effective mitigation mcasures suffcient to safeguard the University.

109. A current, ripe, and justiciable dispute and controversy exists between and among the parties and is fully susceptible to judicial resolution.

110. To eliminate the uncertainty regarding the University's legal rights, the University requires a declaration by this Court that the University is not obligated, under the Memorandwn of Understanding entered into in or about July 2008 or on any other basis, to convey any property rights to the Metropolitan Council for thc construction or operation of the proposedCCLRT Project in the absence of mitigation measures satisfactory to the Board of Regents and adequate to protect the Univcrsity's public mission of research and discovery, teaching and learing, and outreach and public scrvice.

111. To eliminate the unccrtainty rcgarding the University's legal rights, the Univcrsity requires a dcclaration by this Cour that the Mctropolitan Council may not, for purposes ofconstruction or operation of the proposed CCLRT Project, exercise eminent domain over property owned by the University and already dedicated to the University's usc.

112. Under the Minnesota Declaratory Judgment Act, Minn. Stat. ch. 555, the University is cntitled to a declaratory judgment that the Metropolitan Council may not, for purposes of construction or operation of the proposcd CCLRT Project, exercisc cminent domain ovcr propcrty owned by the University and already dedicated to the University's use.

113. The University is entitlcd to injunctive relief restraining the Metropolitan Council from exercising eminent domain ovcr property owned by the University and already dedicated tothe University's use, and from taking any further action regarding the CCLRT Project that would threaten the University's public mission of research and discovery, teaching and learning, and outreach and public scrvice.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Regents of the University of Minnesota prays for relief as follows:

A. A judgment declaring Defendant Metropolitan Council has not complied with MEP A, remanding this matter to Defendant Metropolitan Council, and ordering Defendant Metropolitan Council to prcparc an environmental impact statement for the proposed CCLRT Project that complies with MEP A;

8. A judgment preliminarily and pcrmanently enjoining and restraining DefendantMetropolitan Council from taking any furher action regarding the proposed CCLRT Project pending compliance with MEP A;

C. A judgmcnt declaring Defendant Mctropo1itan Council's proposed CCLRT Project is likely to violatc an environmental quality standard or have a material adverse effect on natural resources protcctcd under MERA;

D. A judgment preliminarily and permancntly imposing such conditions as necessaryto ensure that Defendant Metropolitan Council's conduct regarding the proposed CCLRT Projectwill not violate an environmental quality standard or have a material adverse effect on natural resources protected under MERA and MEP A;

E. A judgment declaring the Univcrsity is not obligated, under the Memorandum of Understanding entered into in or about July 2008 or on any other basis, to convey any property rights to the Metropolitan Council for the constrction or operation of the proposed CCLRT Project in the absence of mitigation measures satisfactory to the Board of Rcgents and adequate to protect the University's public mission of research and discovery, teaching and learning, and outreach and public service;

F. A judgment declaring Defendant Metropolitan Council may not, for purposes of construction or operation of the proposed CCLRT Project, cxcrcisc eminent domain over property owned by the Univcrsity and already dedicated to the University's use;

G. A judgment preliminarily and permanently enjoining and restraining Defendant Metropolitan Council from initiating condemnation proceedings against thc University and from taking any furthcr action regarding the proposcd CCLRT Project that would threaten the University's public mission of rcscarch and discovery, teaching and learning, and outrcach and public service;

H. A judgment awarding the University its costs, including disbursements and attorneys' fees, as available under law; and

I. Such other relief to the University as the Court may deem just, equitable, and proper.

Respectfully submitted,

Dated: September 22, 2009 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW GROUP, LTD By:Tha deus R. Lightfoot 133 First Avenue North Minneapolis, MN 55401 Tcl: (612) 623-2363Fax: (612) 378-3737 GREENE ESPEL, P.L.L.P. L By: Clifti d Grecn (#37436) Larry D. Espel (#27595)200 S. Sixth Street, Suite 1200 Minneapolis, MN 55402 (612) 373-0830OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL UNIVERSITY OF MINESOTA BY:~ Mark B. Rotenberg (#126263) General Counsel 360 McNamara Alumni Center200 Oak Strect, S.E. Minneapolis, MN 55455 (612) 624-4100 COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTAACKNOWLEDGMENTPlaintiff Regents of the University of Minnesota acknowledges through its undersigned counsel that sanctions may be imposed under Minn. Stat. § 549.211 if, afer notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the Court determines that a pary has violated Minn. Stat. § 549.211, subd. 2. FORM 104 CERTIFICATE OF REPRESENTATION AND PARTIES STATE OF MINESOTA DISTRICT COURTCOUNTY OF HENNEPINFOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT CASE TYPE: CIVIL OTHERCERTIFICATE OF REPRESENTATION AND I'ARTIES Date Case Filed: September 22, 2009 Regents ofthe University of Minnesota v. Metropolitan Council This ccrtificate must be filed pursuant to Rule 104 of the General Rules of Practicc forthe District Courts, which states: "A party filing a civil case shall, at the time of fiing, notifY thecourt administrator in writing of the name, address, and telephone number of all counsel andunrepresented parties, if known (see Form 104 appended to these rules). If that information isnot then known to the fiing party, it shall be provided to the court administrator in writing by the fiing party within seven days of learning it. Any party impleading additional parties shall provide the same information to thc cour administrator. The court administrator shall, upon receipt of the completed certificate, notify all paries or their lawyers, if represented by counsel, of the date of filing the action and thc fic number assigncd." LA WYERS FOR PLAINTIFFLAWYER FOR DEFENDANT Regents ofthe University of Minnesota Namc of Party Metropolitan Council Name of ParyThaddcus R. Lightfoot Ally Name (Not firm name) Dave Theisen Atty Name (Not firm name) Environmental Law Group, Ltd. 133 First Avenuc North Minneapolis, MN 55401 AddrcssActing General Counsel390 Robert Street North St. Paul, MN 55101 Address(612) 623-2363 Phone Number (651) 602-1000Phone Number24594XMN Atty ID No.0178652MN Atty ID No.
Clifford M. Greene Ally Name (Not firm name) Greene Espel, P.L.L.P.200 S. Sixth Street, Suite 1200 Minneapolis, MN 55402 Address(612) 373-0830Phone Number37436MN Atty ID No. Larrv D. Espel Atty Name (Not firm name) Grcene Espel, P.L.L.P.200 S. Sixth Street, Suitc 1200 Minneapolis, MN 55402 Address(612) 373-0830Phone Number27595MN Atty ID No. Mark 8. RotenbergAtty Name (Not firm name) General Counscl 360 McNamara Alumi Ccnter 200 Oak Street, S.E. Minneapolis, MN 55455 Address(612) 624-4100 Phone Number 126263 MN Atty ID No. September 22, 2009 Date Thaddeus R. Lightfoot/Regents of the University of Minnesota Filing Lawycr/Pary 2


20.11.09

Congestion is a driving force

You're stuck in traffic for 30 minutes, an unexplained bumper-to-bumper backup on the freeway in the middle of nowwhere. You don't know what's wrong. You are late. You are pissed off. You stare out the window at the red brake lights in front of you, gripping your steering wheel, playing with the radio, calling your family on the phone and talking about nothing.

You inch forward, slowly, for what seems like eternity... Then, suddenly, allatonce, cars free up in front of you and you floor the gas pedal, speeding along to your destination. Is there a better feeling than that?

This ad at the corner of Central and Hennepin in NE Minneapolis got me thinking about how traffic jams become almost an existential crisis for car-culture. If freedom is linked to movement (as most car commercials vividly demonstrate), then congestion is the #1 problem with the American way of life. Despite its unavoidability, it routinely ranks up at the top of the problem surveys, and has become a dominant metaphor for how to conceive of social problems. Things are "logjams", "backlogs," "bureaucratic gridlock". Movement is freedom. Progress is progress is moving forward. Being liberated from people, being given license to finally be yourself, moving where the way you want to.*

Traffic and freedom are such a motivating force in our society. Whole political careers are made from it. Engineering professions multiply like rabbits, grazing on tax money. All this pent-up anger and frustration gets channeled and sublimated into certain kinds of consumption. Cars, talk radio, votes, highway projects, fancy toll lanes, promises of freedom...

But, I never thought I'd see an ad agency try to tie traffic jams together with wedding rings. Is this a match made in heaven? Like gridlock, diamonds are forever?



[A Ramadan traffic jam Coca-Cola commercial from Egypt.]


* Provided you want to move straight ahead in one of the three designated lanes.

18.11.09

Reading the Highland Villager #8 & #9 (November Double Issue Edition)

[Basically, the problem is that the best source of local streets & sidewalks news in Saint Paul is the Highland Villager. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]


Total # of articles about sidewalks: 11
Total # of articles about sidewalks written by Jane McClure: 11


Title: Light-rail poses big challenge for small business: Prospects for surviving 40year project appear dim to some
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article documenting all the unrest over the Central Corridor LRT. Focuses particularly on construction and gentrification cocnerns over Central Corridor LRT [rightfully -Ed.] questioning StP Mayor Coleman's cliam that "no one has to lose their businsess and no one has to lose their home". Points to businesses that are leaving Saint Paul for the suburbs, including University Avenue ski store Fin Sisu. [How long until that business was going to move anyway? -Ed.] Also mentions the minority group lawsuits, and the "Funder's Collaborative" attempts to mitigate some of the concerns.


Title: Collaborative aims to ease the transition to light-rail transit
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Piece detailing the efforts by foundations to offset disruption, gentrification, and business interruptions along the Central Corridor line.


Title: Housing gives way to green space at Victoria Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: West 7th St site of a "fuel tank farm" was sold to the city of St Paul for $1 to create a new park. Exxon will pay $5 M to clean up the site. The future park replaces an idea to create a housing development at the site that would have covered 65 acres and had 850 units of housing. Exxon didn't want to have houses there [because of the future liability issues that come with having people live on toxic waste -Ed.].


Title: Council rejects Walgreens' plan for village store: Ruling may lead to legal challenge or revised plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Villager has been covering this story like a blanket for a long time now, about the effort to build a new pharmacy across the street from a slightly older pharmacy in Highland Park in Saint Paul. The City Council just voted unanimanously to deny the permits for the new Walgreen's. In a very ironic twist, the local movements to fight the new Walgreen's in defense of the slightly older Snyder's store seem to be undermined by the parent company of Snyder's Drugs, which is trying to sell their store to Walgreen's.


Title: Council questions extravagance of brick repaving of Goodrich Avenue
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Goodrich Avenue in Saint Paul near Saint Thomas University used to be paved with brick. When the city repaved it, it re-paved it with new bricks instead of using asphalt. Because this costs twice as much, some people are complaining. Article has funny reference to the great brick-paved debaucle of Osceola Avenue, where the re-paving with limestone bricks is "bumpy". [But bricks look very nice! -Ed.]


Title: Lower speed limit sought on Marshall
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: For many years, the city has been lobbying the County to lower the speed limit on Marshall from 35 to 30 mph. For years, the county has said "no." Apparently, at long last, because they've installed bike lanes on the street, the county is going to lower the limit.


Title: New St Paul building design regs advance
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Really interesting article on new building regulations being studied by the Planning Commission. Lots of things like how houses should be set relative to the sidewalk, whether or not thye have windows, what kinds of materials can be used, how much the doorway is emphasized, etc. Story mentions that the whole situation was motivated by a manufactured house built in the North End that was placed sideways to the street so that there were no windows facing the sidewalk.


Title: City Council lays over decision on dynamic business signs: More protections are sought for residential neighborhoods
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: City Council is trying to regulate signs that have flashing lights and LED messages. The group Scenic St. Paul is behind these efforts.


Title: Highland finding drugstore resolution hard to swallow
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The battle over the drug store continues, turning into a struggle between the Highland District Cncil and busienss association, the Planning Commission, and the City Council and unions. Key battle refers to a city ordinance that "call[s] for pedestrian-oriented development" in Highland Park, conflicting with the proposed auto-oriented drug store building and parking lot.


Title: Safety concerns derail effort to allow bikes on Ayd Mill Rd.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: City Council member Russ Stark wanted to allow bikes on Ayd Mil road. Despite a successful public hearing on the proposal, the effort was nixed by the Dept. of Public Works and some other un-named city council members.


Title: Redesign aims to remove traffic hazards at West 7th-Montreal
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city Dept. of Public Works is re-designing the very awkward intersection of West 7th Street, Lexington Avenue, and Montreal Avenue by removing street parking and adding a turn lane. The local neighborhood council, the West 7th Federation, doens't like the plan because it just increases traffic flow in the area. It has a good quote of the director, who would like to move a lot of the traffic off the local streets and onto Shepard Road, the urban freeway along the riverfront. The article cites a traffic study that never took place that would have studied the area. West 7th Street has become an extension of the freeway for people who "seek a quicker route" between I-35E and Highway 5 to the airport and I-494. Volumes are at least 30,000 cars / day.

13.11.09

*** Sidewalk Weekend ***

Sidewalk Rating: Could be worse


Yes it is November.
But still they play volleyball on the almost-green grass

Thank you, El Nino?
My skis are dusty.


*** ***




I'm sorry, but "no". Why do we need to invent a machine to replace the human body?


*** ***


What if San Francisco were a movement tree, an organism... ?

The red lines are transit connections, the black lines are people moving around on their feet.

You see the city as a plant, or a tree... movement as continual re-growth...



*** ***


Check out this video of a highway falling apart.




*** ***


The history of this hotel is fascinating.




*** ***


Who knew we had a "flashlight museum" in the TC!


*** ***

Clotheslines are the epitome of urban shared public/private space. They are a big energy saver, they connect people together (literally), they allow you to know perhaps a bit too much about your neighbors. Plust they are a victim of aesthethic warfare. On one hand, you have the imagery of laundry soap commercials, of a mother hanging clothes out to dry in the sunshine for the "spring fresh feeling". On the other hand, you have the fabric softener industry, the manufacturers of dryers, and the condo associations that keep clotheslines out of sightlines.

So much depends on these bits of rope and wood!

[Click on the photo for the NYT article on clotheslines.]




*** ***




*** ***


One of Jane Jacobs' most profound critiques of Modernism was simply that the scale was too large. And this is the one main lessons still hasn't been learned. Many many developments still are way too large.




*** ***


Art of the everyday is my favorite kind of art.

This reminds me of Improv Everywhere, flashmobs, performance art, that awesome movie at the Walker a while back of a dude pushing a giant ice block around Mexico City...


*** ***

Three photos for you:


1) Traffic calming in Japan.



2) Old photo of firefighting in Minneapolis. via SAM



3) Michigan central station in Detroit. via Ffffound

12.11.09

Signs of the Times #16

Smile your on camera.

[Ice cream shop door. North End, Saint Paul.]


Property

[Stake in ground near tree. Location forgotten.]


Vote
No
To
Song-Bird

[Election season yard. North End, Saint Paul.]



We pledge
To say no to gangs

We pledge
To stand up for
a better future

We pledge
To work through
differences together

[Sidewalk stencil. North Minneapolis.]


Come on in!
It's cool in here.
Cool air.
Cool stuff.
Cool books.

[Herb and bookstore window. South Minneapolis.]



Door
Blocked

[Door of shop converted into a home. North End, Saint Paul.]


This Section
CLOSED!
Do Not Enter
WARNING!
Alarm
Will Sound

[2nd story skyway space. Downtown Saint Paul.]

11.11.09

Health is a rhythm

[One of the everyday urban rhythms and patterns from Christopher Alexander's "Timeless Way of Building".]

What is a city rhythm? Is is something we can see? Is is something we can change?

This interesting article came out a little while back about an experiment in Albert Lea, Minnesota, to try and change the rhythms of everyday life.

Everyday life is the quotidian idea that there is something important in all the unimportant things things that happen all around us all the time. It is the way we tie our shoes, brush our teeth, cook our food, walk around, drive around, use the phone, etc. etc. .... All these small acts depend on architectures that we take for granted. All these small things form patterns that play huge roles in our lives, and (in the case of most of America) are causing us to lead very sedentary and isolated lives.

Lately, the public health world has been trying to change this fabric, and to make exercise and movement a part of American everyday life again. But that is a very difficult thing to do, precisely because all these systems of movement, shopping, interacting, and living are everywhere. In most Minnesotan homes, we need cars to do just about anything. Most of the time, you don't have a choice to walk or bike to do an errand.

So, efforts like Albert Lea's Blue Zone project are really tilting at windmills (just like this blog, in fact.) Here's an excerpt:

The fundamental principle behind Albert Lea's makeover is that diets and exercise alone don't work. Changing health requires changing the community -- the normal rhythms and expectations in schools, workplaces, restaurants, government, grocery stores -- even within families and in neighborhoods.

...

The project's impact shows up all over town, from lunchroom conversations over fruit instead of donuts at Lou-Rich Machine to City Council meetings to approve about 9,000 feet of sidewalk construction -- three years' worth -- in a single year.

Of course I found it excellent that the city identified sidewalks as a key factor in reinstalling walking within everyday life. It's just a very difficult thing to actually accomplish, because of the interlinked nature of movement patterns. Even if you have a sidewalk, without a corner store or small library (without a giant parking lot in front of it), the actual concrete slab doesn't do you much good.

It took 50 years to change our cities so that walking and biking are nearly impossible. It's going to take a long time to make them easy and convenient again.

By city rhythms, we mean anything form the regular comigns and goings of people about the city to the vast range of repetitive activities, sounds, and even smells that punctuate life int eh city and which give many of those who life and work there a sense of time and location. This sense has nothing to dow ith any overall orchestration of effort or any mass coordination of routines across a city. Rather it arises out of the teeming mix of city life as people move in and around the city at different times of the day or night, in whaya ppears to be a constant renewal process week in week out, season after season.

--John Allen, Works within cities (fm. Massey "City Worlds")

10.11.09

Is Light Rail a Gentrification machine?

"The building of railways seems to be a simple, natural, democratic, cultural and civilising enterprise; that is what it is in the opinion of the bourgeois professors who are paid to depict capitalist slavery in bright colours, and in the opinion of petty-bourgeois philistines."

--Lenin, "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism," Preface to the French and German Editions.

I have a friend who hates light rail. He sees it as a tool for gentrification, and a plaything of the wealthy. Shiny toy trains for people too proud to ride the bus, that run through nicer neighborhoods, causing a thousand condos to flower in their wake, blossoming up like techno-sequoias filled with yuppies.

Well, he's not wrong. Light rail is all of those things. It's a big tool for capitalism and development But is it something else too? I just wrote an email about it, and I'd be curious to know what you think...
Nice quote. I think Vladimir is talking about rail barons? Well, streetcar systems were also private enterprises funded by 'rail barons' (in Mpls, it was a guy named Lowry) and used as development tools to grow the city and make a killing off real estate. But I'd certainly not condemn them just for that reason. After the fact, weren't streetcars still a good public transit system? Didn't they still serve as a more equitable, and green, form of transportation?

LRT is, just like any transportation project, an opportunity for capital to organize itself. in way way, LRT is simply more comfortable transit. (that's the main reason white people like them.) At another level, LRT looks a lot like a rail baron situation. It's a tool for developers to make money, cities to increase their tax base, politicians to cut ribbons and give jobs to construction firms, lots of planners to earn livings, etc.

In all of those ways, though, they are no different than freeway projects. in fact, the only way that they are different from freeway projects is that they are (or have the potential to be) more energy efficient, and that they tend to create development within cities that have more economic and other kinds of diversity as opposed to in the middle of nowhere. When you build a freeway in the middle of nowhere, you build a lot of new, typically (income) segregated areas in the middle of nowhere. When you build a LRT through a city, you're usually encouraging capital investment to occur in already-exiting places. at a certain level, I think the gentrification debate is, or should be, a debate over the right to housing. sometimes I wonder why we target the idea of wealthy people living in cities when the goal should be to make sure the working class has a decent place to live.

Its not that I don't see the argument that it is just another bourgeious subsidy. rather, it seems to me a smarter bourgeious subsidy than most of them. Compared to the amount of money spent on, for only one example, the mortgage interest tax deduction, which only goes to homeowners (e.g. the rich half of the US) and encourages them to build even larger homes, money spent on rail is hardly the battle I would choose to fight.

I sometimes wonder about whether movement and capitalism are intertwined. can we think of the circulation of value without thinking of the circulation of people or goods? Is capital growth necessarily spatial? Is the very idea of transportation and movement the problem?

One of the reasons i am studying walking is that it seems to escape from some of these binds. The only people that make money off of pedestrians are the manufacturers of sneakers. umbrellas, and handbags.
[Gerald Ford loved Light Rail. Jimmy Carter hated it.]