Category: CEQA

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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

New Proposed CEQA Guidelines on Traffic Impacts Issued: It’s How Far You Go, Not How Slow

By Stephen Kostka and Barbara Schussman Senate Bill 743, enacted in 2013, was designed to create a process for changing the way traffic impacts are examined under CEQA. The concept was to take the focus away from vehicle delay, measured by level of service, which has resulted in mitigation requirements to increase intersection and road … Continue Reading

No Treasure for Challenger on Appeal: Treasure Island EIR Upheld

Three years after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a major redevelopment project on Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island, an appellate court affirmed a lower court judgment upholding the project’s EIR.  Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island v. City and County of San Francisco, A137828 (First District, July 7, 2014). In 2011, … Continue Reading

Airport Challenge Does Not Fly: Court Upholds Use of Addendum for Changes to San Jose Airport Master Plan

The City of San Jose’s use of an addendum for recent modifications to the San Jose Airport’s Master Plan has been upheld by the court of appeal.  Citizens Against Airport Pollution v. City of San Jose, H038781 (6th Dist.  July 2, 2014)  In 1988, the City of San Jose began to prepare an update to its … Continue Reading

Categorical Exemptions Under CEQA — California Supreme Court Grants Review of Another Case Involving the Unusual Circumstances Exception

In a recent case decided by the Third District Court of Appeal the court upheld the use of a CEQA exemption for a proposed rodeo at a county fairground despite claims it would pollute  a nearby creek.   Citizens for Environmental Responsibility v. State of California ex rel. – 14th Dist. Agricultural Association (No. C070836).     The … Continue Reading

Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change Impacts: CEQA Practice Tips

The analysis of climate change impacts under CEQA has rapidly evolved over the last several years. For this reason and others, nearly every challenge to an environmental impact report today features an attack on the EIR’s analysis of greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, amendments to the CEQA Guidelines and recent court decisions have provided environmental professionals … Continue Reading

Highway 101 EIR Felled by Redwoods

Caltrans’s analysis of impacts to redwoods from  realignment of a one-mile stretch of Highway 101 has been rejected.  The court of appeal ruled that the project EIR both failed to identify any significance threshold for impacts to redwoods and impermissibly labeled mitigation measures as project features.  Lotus v. Department of Transportation, No. A137315 (First Dist., … Continue Reading

Challenge To Annexation Dismissed Due To Failure To Comply With Required Procedures

CEQA and other claims challenging a completed annexation were dismissed because they had not been brought in a reverse validation proceeding.  Protect Agricultural Land v. Stanislaus County Local Agency Formation Commission (No. F066544, 1/28/14) The Stanislaus County Local Agency Formation Commission approved annexation of land into the City of Ceres, relying on an EIR the … Continue Reading

CEQA Year In Review 2013

A Summary of Published Appellate Opinions Under CEQA By Steve Kostka, Barbara Schussman, Julie Jones, Marc Bruner & Christopher Tom   The CEQA cases published in 2013 continued to reflect a recognition that CEQA does not require perfection, but rather a reasonable effort to provide useful environmental information — a trend that continued from the … Continue Reading

Existing Contamination On A Development Site Does Not Necessarily Trigger Preparation Of An EIR

Proposals to redevelop infill sites can often present difficult issues relating to how the potential effects of preexisting contamination should be evaluated under CEQA.  In a recently published opinion, the court in Parker Shattuck Neighbors v Berkeley made it clear that, in the absence of real evidence a significant environmental impact might occur,  the fact … Continue Reading

Comment Periods Open on New Fracking Regulations and Scope of Statewide EIR

In the face of mounting public pressure to address the potential perils of hydraulic fracturing, California has embarked upon a multi-faceted program to strengthen its oil and gas regulations, perform comprehensive environmental studies, and increase public disclosure.  On November 15, 2013, the Department of Conservation published two notices seeking comments on steps it is taking to … Continue Reading

Court Rejects Claim That New General Plan Housing Element Requires New EIR

Affordable housing advocates have lost a claim that Napa’s new General Plan Housing Element required a new environmental impact report.  Latinos Unidos de Napa v. City of Napa, No. A134959 (1st Dist., Oct. 10, 2013, publication ordered Nov. 5, 2013).  The court upheld the city’s decision that its 2009 Housing Element was not a new … Continue Reading

EPA Publishes Draft Scientific Report To Support Significant Expansion of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

On September 17, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the release of a draft scientific report that is widely seen as a prelude to upcoming regulations that would significantly expand federal permitting jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. See our update for more information about the draft report, which is titled “Connectivity of Streams and … Continue Reading
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