Category: CEQA

Subscribe to CEQA RSS Feed

Air District Permit May Be Challenged Under CEQA

In an unsurprising decision, a court of appeal held that CEQA claims may be asserted against an air quality management district.  Friends of Outlet Creek v. Mendocino County AQMD, (First Dist. Ct. App., No. A148508 (decided 3/23/17; ordered published 5/25/17) The Mendocino County Air Quality Management District granted an “Authority to Construct” – a permit … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Holds Governor’s Executive Order Setting 2050 GHG Targets Need Not Be Used As CEQA Significance Threshold

In November 2014, we reported on the controversial court of appeal decision that overturned the environmental impact report for the San Diego Association of Governments’ 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy.  The court faulted the EIR for failing to assess the plan’s consistency with the 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal contained in an … Continue Reading

Attorney Neglect Not Grounds For Relief From Summary Judgment For Failure to Lodge Administrative Record

A party against whom summary judgment is entered as a result of attorney neglect may not seek relief under a statute that provides relief from a default judgment or dismissal resulting from attorney neglect. The Urban Wildlands Group, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 10 Cal. App. 5th 993 (2017). The plaintiff challenged the City … Continue Reading

CEQA Action Challenging Oil Well Permits Not Barred By Res Judicata

The court of appeal held that the doctrine of res judicata (which precludes relitigation by the same parties of issues previously adjudicated on the merits) does not apply when a prior judgment was based on mootness and ripeness grounds because it is not a judgment on the merits. Association of Irritated Residents v. California Department of … Continue Reading

Tie Vote Decision Resulting in Upholding Permit Approval was Subject to Challenge Under CEQA

The court of appeal rejected a claim that a tie vote of the air quality management district’s hearing board resulted in “no action” and hence was not subject to judicial challenge. Grist Creek Aggregates. LLC v. Mendocino County Air Quality Management District (No. A149861, June 14, 2017). The Mendocino County Air Quality Management District approved … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Rejects CEQA Piecemealing Challenge to County’s “Zoning Modernization” Ordinances

The court in Aptos Council v. County of Santa Cruz  (6th District, No. H042976, April 25, 2017) rejected a lawsuit claiming that three pro-development zoning ordinances the county adopted constituted a single project that that should have been reviewed together in an environmental impact report. The court of appeal found that the zoning ordinances could … Continue Reading

Court Finds CARB’s New Analysis of Biodiesel Low Carbon Fuel Regulations Still Doesn’t Comply With CEQA But Leaves Current Regulations In Place Pending Compliance

In 2013, the fifth district court of appeal ruled that the California Air Resources Board violated CEQA when it adopted its 2009 Low Carbon Fuel Standard regulations, and the court directed issuance of a writ of mandate requiring that CARB take corrective action.  The court allowed the LCFS regulations to remain in effect while CARB completed a new CEQA analysis, concluding that leaving … Continue Reading

Fair Argument Test Applies To Agency Determination Whether Subsequent CEQA Review Is Required Once A Negative Declaration Has Been Adopted

This court of appeal decision was issued upon remand for further proceedings after a California Supreme Court decision in which the court considered the standard of review that applies when an agency makes significant changes to a project that was originally approved based on a negative declaration and determines that no further environmental review is … Continue Reading

Appellate court upholds approval of master-planned community against multiple CEQA challenges

The court of appeal upheld the County of Riverside’s decision to approve development of a master-planned community, rejecting claims that the County violated CEQA by (1) filing an inadequate notice of determination; (2) failing to recirculate the final EIR after the project was modified; and (3) failing to consider and adopt feasible air quality mitigation … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Holds City EIR Must Identify and Analyze Potential Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas Under the Coastal Act

A local agency’s environmental impact report must identify any areas on a project site that might qualify as “Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas” under the California Coastal Act, and must account for those areas in the EIR’s analysis of project alternatives and mitigation measures.  Banning Ranch Conservancy v. City of Newport Beach, California Supreme Court Case … Continue Reading

CEQA YEAR IN REVIEW 2016

A Summary Of Published Appellate Opinions Under The California Environmental Quality Act In 2016, the California appellate courts issued published opinions in 21 CEQA cases. In several of those opinions, including a ground-breaking decision by the California Supreme Court, the courts grappled with limits on the scope of required environmental review for a subsequent project … Continue Reading

MOU Allocating Responsibility for Development of Groundwater Management Plan Not a Project Under CEQA

The Fourth Appellate District has held that a memorandum of understanding between a water district, county, property owner, and water company outlining mutual responsibilities for preparing a groundwater management plan governing the installation and operation of groundwater extraction wells was not a “project” requiring review under CEQA. The court based its decision on its conclusion … Continue Reading

Uncertainty About an Agency’s Discretion to Determine Historical Significance for Purposes of CEQA Is Finally Put to Rest

Resolving a long-standing debate, the court in Friends Of The Willow Glen Trestle v. City Of San Jose (H041563), 6th Dist. Aug. 12, 2016,  ruled that San José’s determination that a railroad trestle bridge was not a historic resource was to be evaluated under the substantial evidence standard of review. It rejected the argument that the fair argument … Continue Reading

Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s CEQA Guidelines on Pollution Impacts to Project Occupants and Users Are Invalid

The significance thresholds for exposure of receptors to harmful air pollution in the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s CEQA Guidelines cannot provide the basis for requiring an EIR or mitigation measures, when used to measure the impact of existing air pollution on future occupants or users of a project. As a result, the District’s … Continue Reading

EIR’s Energy Impacts Analysis Fails To Satisfy CEQA’s Requirements 

Background In Ukiah Citizens for Safety First v. City of Ukiah, 248 Cal.App.4th 256 (2016) the First District Court of Appeal concluded that the City of Ukiah’s EIR for a proposed Costco failed to satisfy CEQA’s requirements for evaluating energy impacts. The project involved the construction of a new Costco store and gas station. The … Continue Reading

Failure to Discover An Agency’s Approval Of An Exempt Project Does Not Extend The Time To File CEQA Lawsuit

The First District Court of Appeal has ruled that the accrual of a claim that a public agency exemption determination violated CEQA is not postponed by the plaintiff’s failure to discover the violation. Communities for a Better Environment et al. v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District, No. A143634 (1st Dist., July 19, 2016; modified … Continue Reading

General Plan Sustainability Requirements Doom Wal-Mart Project

Finding a variety of legal errors, including failure to comply with a city policy requiring on-site electricity generation “to the maximum extent feasible,” a court of appeal has overturned the City of Victorville’s approvals for a Wal-Mart project.  Spring Valley Lake Ass’n v. City of Victorville, No. D069442 (4th Dist., June 15, 2016).  The court … Continue Reading

Public/Private Partnerships: New Guidance on Designating the CEQA Lead Agency

With public/private partnerships becoming more common, a California appellate court has outlined – with a new test – how to determine the CEQA lead agency for a project in which a private entity partners with multiple public agencies. Center for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino (G051058) 4th Dist., May 10, 2016. Cadiz, Inc. … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Rejects Claim That Sustainable Communities Strategies May Rely on Statewide GHG Reduction Mandates

The First District Court of Appeal has upheld the San Francisco Bay Area’s Sustainable Communities Strategy.  The court rejected  the claim that such strategies  must account for the effects of statewide greenhouse gas reduction mandates. Bay Area Citizens v. Association of Bay Area Governments, 248 Cal. App. 4th 966 (2016). The Sustainable Communities and Climate … Continue Reading
LexBlog