Category: CEQA

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OPR Issues Discussion Draft of Proposed Changes to Appendix G of the CEQA Guidelines to Incorporate Tribal Cultural Resources

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has announced the availability of a discussion draft of proposed changes to Appendix G of the CEQA Guidelines incorporating tribal cultural resources, pursuant to Assembly Bill 52. (For more on AB 52, see our web report here). The discussion draft, available here, provides background on AB 52 … Continue Reading

Historical Level Of Use May Serve As CEQA Baseline For Replacement Of Vacant Building

The California Court of Appeal’s Fourth Appellate District’s recent decision, North County Advocates v. City of Carlsbad is a potentially major decision on the issue of using historical levels of operations as the baseline for gauging the environmental impacts of a proposed project under CEQA. In this case, which concerned renovation of a large Westfield … Continue Reading

Losing Plaintiff Cannot Recover Legal Fees

Commenting that “we have not found a threat of victory in this record,” the court of appeal ruled against a citizens’ group that brought a motion for attorneys’ fees after losing a CEQA challenge in the trial court. Coalition for a Sustainable Future in Yucaipa v. City of Yucaipa, 238 Cal. App. 4th 513 (2015). … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Sets Oral Argument in Key CEQA Case

The California Supreme Court has announced that the oral argument in California Building Industry Association v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District will take place on October 7, 2015, in San Francisco.  The CBIA case squarely presents an issue of critical importance under CEQA: is environmental impact analysis under CEQA limited to the effects of … Continue Reading

A State Agency’s Duty To Mitigate Significant Environmental Impacts Does Not Depend On A Legislative Appropriation Of Funds For Mitigation

The California State University system may not condition its funding of mitigation for off-site impacts of a campus expansion project on receipt of a legislative appropriation earmarked for that purpose, according to a decision issued yesterday by the California Supreme Court. City of San Diego v Board of Trustees of the California State University, No. … Continue Reading

EIR Comments Should Improve The Environmental Review Process, Not Derail It

CEQA guidelines require only that a lead agency give detailed responses to comments that identify an important new matter not discussed in the draft environmental impact report or raise questions about a significant environmental issue, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled, allowing Orange County to proceed with a long-considered expansion of a county jail. City … Continue Reading

Court Rejects Another Attempt to Stop New Kings Arena

Opponents of the Sacramento Arena project took another shot at halting the new Kings arena project, challenging the city’s certification of the project EIR on a variety of grounds. But the Court of Appeal upheld the city’s certification of the EIR, rejecting every one of the opponents’ arguments.  Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento, 234 Cal. … Continue Reading

California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s EIR for Fish-Stocking and Hatchery Program Upheld

A court of appeal has held that the first-ever environmental impact report for the state’s fish hatchery and stocking programs complies with CEQA, but also found that three of the EIR’s mitigation measures constituted “underground regulations” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Third … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Reaffirms Broad Discretion of Trial Courts to Determine Appropriate Attorneys’ Fees

The Fourth Appellate District upheld the trial court’s award of less than 10% of the fees requested by the prevailing petitioner in a CEQA case, finding no abuse of the broad discretion accorded trial courts in awarding fees. Save Our Uniquely Rural Community v. County of San Bernardino, No. E059524 (4th Dist., March 18, 2015) … Continue Reading

OPR Issues Draft Technical Advisory Regarding New CEQA Requirements for Tribal Cultural Resources

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has announced the availability of a draft technical advisory discussing the new CEQA requirements for tribal cultural resources that have been added by Assembly Bill 52. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The draft technical advisory describes the new substantive and procedural requirements and … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Grants Review of Decision Invalidating SANDAG Regional Transportation Plan

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review the appellate court decision Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments. As we previously reported, the court of appeal in that case invalidated the EIR for the San Diego Association of Government’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy. In its petition for … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Upholds Most Commonly Used CEQA Categorical Exemptions

The California Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited decision in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, No. S201116 (March 2, 2015). The Court’s decision clears up some of the ambiguity that has surrounded the standard of review for challenges to CEQA exemptions under the unusual circumstances exception. In doing so, the Court rejected the … Continue Reading

CEQA Year in Review 2014

A Summary of Published Appellate Opinions Under CEQA  By Stephen Kostka, Julie Jones, Barbara Schussman, Alan Murphy,  Ned Washburn, Laura Zagar, Kathryn Bilder, Christopher Chou and Marie Cooper In 2014, courts, regulators and public agencies continued to struggle with the relationship between CEQA and California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Courts of appeal held that … Continue Reading

25th Annual Briefing on Land Use and Development Law — Materials Available

Perkins Coie attorneys — most of whom contribute regularly to this report — recently presented the 25th Annual Land Use & Development Law Breakfast Briefing in Palo Alto, San Francisco and Walnut Creek.   The presentation focused on 2014 developments and trends in land use, affordable housing, school facilities financing, CEQA, real estate and environmental and resources … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Poised To Decide Key CEQA Questions: The Court’s Lineup For 2015

The California Supreme Court’s involvement in CEQA cases has been relatively limited since the statute’s enactment in 1970, with the court taking review of at most one or two appellate court decisions a year.  The last two years have, however, seen a dramatic shift in this trend, with the result that the court now has … Continue Reading

Court Blocks Opponents’ Shot at Halting New Kings Arena

The court of appeal recently upheld legislation modifying several deadlines for CEQA review of a project that includes a proposed new arena for the Sacramento Kings, rejecting a claim the statute violates separation of powers.  Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento, No. C077031 (3d Dist., Nov. 20, 2014). In 2013, the National Basketball Association approved the … Continue Reading

EIR For SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Plan Rejected By Court Of Appeal

In a long-awaited 2-1 decision, a court of appeal overturned the environmental impact report for the San Diego Association of Governments’ 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy. Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments (4th Dist., Div. 1, No. D063288, Nov. 24. 2014).   The most remarkable ruling, in what is likely … Continue Reading

Court Reaffirms City’s Discretion to Identify Local Historic Resources

In Citizens for Restoration of L Street v. City of Fresno, an appellate court affirmed that the substantial evidence test, not the fair argument test, governs an agency’s determination whether buildings or districts should be treated as historical resources under CEQA. Background This case concerned a proposed residential infill development project in the City of … Continue Reading

AB 52 Amends CEQA by Creating a New Category of Cultural Resources and New Requirements for Consultation with Native American Tribes

On September 25, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 52, which creates a new category of environmental resources that must be considered under the California Environmental Quality Act: “tribal cultural resources.” The legislation imposes new requirements for consultation regarding projects that may affect a tribal cultural resource, includes a broad definition of what may be considered to be … Continue Reading

Compliance With FAA Regulations Provides Adequate CEQA Mitigation For Aviation Safety Impacts

Reliance on compliance with FAA regulations as a mitigation measure to reduce impacts to air safety to less than significant levels is appropriate under CEQA, according to the Court of Appeal  in Citizens Opposing A Dangerous Environment v. County of Kern, 228 Cal.App.4th 360 (5th Dist. July 25, 2014). Two wind energy companies applied to … Continue Reading

CEQA Lawsuit Fails to Slow High-Speed Rail

Several parties, including the San Francisco Peninsula communities of Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto, challenged the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s decision on where to route trains travelling between the Central Valley and the Bay Area.  The court of appeal recently upheld the Authority’s program EIR for the routing, but rejected the Authority’s argument that … Continue Reading

CEQA Compliance Not Required For Council-Adopted Land Use Initiative Measure

Developers, project opponents, agencies and courts often lose the forest for the trees when considering CEQA issues.  A prime example is the conflicting appellate authority and public debate on the question whether a city council’s adoption of a voter-sponsored initiative measure is subject to CEQA. In Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court, … Continue Reading