Rancho Mirage City Councilmember G. Dana Hobart on Friday had egg on his face after a Riverside County Superior Court Judge tossed out a lawsuit alleging “illegal” money is being used to build CV Link, a 50-mile multi-modal pathway that will provide a safe route across the Coachella Valley for pedestrians, cyclists and low-speed electric vehicles such as golf carts.
Hobart, the most outspoken critic of the $100 million CV Link, wholeheartedly supported Jim Ferguson, a Palm Desert attorney, who filed the lawsuit in October. Hobart, a retired attorney, routinely praised Ferguson’s lawsuit and made a mockery out of the project at every turn, referring to it as “a 20-to-30-foot-wide cement, steel and decomposed granite structure (that shatters) residential tranquility ….”
“Considering that Mr. Ferguson’s lawsuit mirrors much of what Rancho Mirage has been contending over the past two-plus years, I believe that there is considerable merit to Ferguson’s contention that CVAG is misusing our road repair Measure A tax funds for their CV Link project,” Hobart has told Uken Report.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge James Latting dismissed the lawsuit challenging the CV Link project. He sustained the arguments raised by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the Riverside County Transportation Commission that Ferguson had failed to raise any valid legal claims in his lawsuit.
Ferguson’s lawsuit challenged three sources of funding for CV Link. In 2015, Hobart raised similar claims. They were rebutted by a comprehensive legal opinion that CVAG obtained.
One of the most vocal supporters of CV Link has been Indio Mayor Michael Wilson. He was the first to stand up say the lawsuit was a joke. Wilson, who has served the city for 21 years, called the lawsuit, which was filed Oct. 13, “frivolous with a capital ‘F.’ ”
Hobart, a retired attorney, who has never been short on vitriol for the project, did not return two requests for comment on Friday. Ferguson said via text he would be available after the weekend. He has a right to appeal the ruling.
The lawsuit and constant drum beat of anger, ridicule and allegations about the CVAG project and CVAG’’s leadership have pitted community leaders against one another and leaders doing all they can to help drum Hobart out of office in the April Rancho Mirage City Council election. Hobart is seeking re-election to a four-year term.
“Over the last several years Rancho Mirage and Councilmember Dana Hobart have been at war with CVAG, its staff, and fellow elected officials throughout the Coachella Valley over CV Link,” Mayor Wilson told Uken Report. “Mr. Hobart’s arguments at CVAG and in the media concerning CV Link were the basis of litigation that was filed against the CV Link project by Mr. Hobart’s close confidant Jim Ferguson. It is highly believed that Mr. Hobart actually wrote the filed litigation. When this litigation was filed I was quoted in several media articles as calling the lawsuit was frivolous. Judge Latting ruled exactly that in his final ruling and confirmed what we knew already. The time and taxpayer funds wasted with this litigation could (have) been better spent funding projects versus paying lawyers. As CVAG and its members have respected Rancho Mirage’s decision to not have CV Link in its jurisdiction, I call on Rancho Mirage and Councilmember Hobart to respect Indio’s and all other cities’ right to build CV Link in their jurisdictions. It’s time to stop this war.”
Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, chairman of CVAG, said “I am thrilled that this lingering issue has been put to rest. This ruling eliminates any doubts about CV Link’s funding, once and for all.”
The first 2.3 miles of CV Link, between Vista Chino Road in Palm Springs and Ramon Road in Cathedral City, officially opened on Feb. 23 and is already well-used for active transportation and golf carts alike. The next segment, near Demuth Park in Palm Springs, is expected to be under construction this summer.
CVAG earlier this year announced additional funding for the project, which now has more than $86 million secured.