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Downtown Traffic Planning Comm. v. Royer

Citation: 10 ELR 20733
No. No. 8079-2-1, 612 P.2d 430/26 Wash. App. 156, (Wash. Ct. App., 05/12/1980)

The court reverses the dismissal of an action to compel the City of Seattle to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) before implementing a bus lane construction program, ruling that the program is not as a matter of law categorically excluded from the State Environmental Policy Act's (SEPA's) EIS requirement. SEPA requires an EIS to be prepared on major actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment unless the government agency makes a "threshold determination" that a proposal will not have significant environmental effects. To assist agencies in making this determination the state adopted regulations listing categorical exemptions from the SEPA EIS requirement. The court emphasizes that the regulations, listing minor, routine acts usually having negligible environmental impact, were intended only to provide guidance to agencies in determining when a proposal requires SEPA compliance, not to provide the final determination. Agencies applying the categorical exemptions must consider the likely environmental effects of the action. On remand, the court notes that although the program may still be exempt from SEPA after the environmental effects are considered, the cumulative effects of the bus lane program's linkage to a larger traffic plan might make it a major action thus mandating the preparation of an EIS.

Counsel for Appellants
Roger M. Leed
Smith, Brucker, Winn & Ehlert
1411 4th Ave., Seattle WA 98101
(206) 624-8901

Counsel for Respondents
Gordon F. Crandall, Ass't Corporation Counsel
10th Fl., Municipal Bldg., Seattle WA 98104
(206) 625-2414

Robert L. Gunter
Preston, Thorgrimson, Ellis, Holman & Fletcher
2000 IBM Bldg., 1200 5th Ave., Seattle WA 98101
(206) 623-7580

CALLOW, C.J., and DORE, J., concur.