It's got to come under the category of “what was City Hall thinking?' that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa kept insisting his plan to funnel commuters onto Pico and Olympic boulevards by making them one-way streets would have no effect on the local environment.

A judge sounded almost incredulous in a five-page ruling that halted the project today, stating that “the very purpose of the project is to expand the use of the existing streets” — which typically means more fine particulate matter from car exhaust, more noise, and a lower quality of life for anyone who has to live or work nearby.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John Torribio said what a lot of critics have been voicing, that the pols at City Hall were rushing forth without an Environmental Impact Study even though the pols were suggesting a radical departure from how the streets are now used.

Torribio told Villaraigosa and company that to somehow argue that “the project will not expand the current use and is therefore exempt” from environmental studies was, well, weird. (Okay, the judge actually said “inconsistent.”)

Some neighbors had likened the claims out of City Hall — no effect on their quality of life — to the other really weird claim coming from city and Metro leaders, and also regarding major changes soon to come to the gridlocked Westside: that a towering condo skyscraper in Century City will reduce, not cause, traffic. Maybe Judge Torribio should be asked to take a look at that claim as well.

Expect any EIR to now take up to a year. According to the timeline published by neighborhood groups at the blog Fix the City, Villaraigosa has blown five months trying to get around an EIR. And add yet another check to your list of Villaraigosa promises that did not happen.

LA Weekly