Category: CEQA

Subscribe to CEQA RSS Feed

City’s Bifurcated Procedure For Appealing Approval of Entitlements Separately From CEQA Determinations Upheld

The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a mitigated negative declaration where the project opponent correctly appealed the approval of entitlements but failed to properly appeal the CEQA determination under the City of San Diego’s bifurcated appeals process. Clews Land & Livestock, LLC v. City of San Diego, 19 Cal. App. 5th 161 (2017). A … Continue Reading

Air Resources Board’s Regulatory Relief For Small Truck Fleets Violated CEQA

A court of appeal has held that the California Air Resources Board violated CEQA when it issued a “regulatory advisory” notifying small trucking operations that they need not meet ARB’s regulatory deadline for retrofitting their truck engines, and that the regulation would soon be relaxed. John R. Lawson Rock & Oil, Inc. v. State Air … Continue Reading

Attorneys’ Fees Can Be Awarded to CEQA Litigants Hoping to Preserve Their Home Values

Successful petitioners under CEQA who are motivated to file suit, in part, by their private financial interests are not necessarily ineligible for an award of attorneys’ fees under the public interest fee statute. Heron Bay Homeowners Association v. City of San Leandro, 19 Cal. App. 5th 376 (2018). Halus Power Systems sought approval from the … Continue Reading

CEQA YEAR IN REVIEW 2017

A Summary of Published Appellate Opinions Under the California Environmental Quality Act In 2017, the California Supreme Court issued two decisions involving highly controversial questions of first impression.  In the closely-watched Cleveland National Forest Foundation case, the court reversed the court of appeal’s ruling that the EIR for SANDAG’s regional transportation plan was fatally flawed … Continue Reading

“Urban Decay” Not Reasonably Foreseeable Consequence of Relocating Courts from Historic Downtown Courthouse

Citing the likelihood of repurposing Placerville’s historic downtown courthouse and evidence nearby businesses were not dependent on it, the First District Court of Appeal held that “urban decay” was not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of moving judicial activities from downtown to a new building in the outskirts of the city. Placerville Historic Preservation League v. … Continue Reading

Court Upholds Refinery EIR’s 2007 Baseline and Reliance on Cap-And-Trade for Climate Change Analysis

In a precedent-setting decision, the Fifth District Court of Appeal has upheld two key aspects of the 2014 environmental impact report for a refinery expansion project. Association of Irritated Residents v. Kern County Board of Supervisors No. F073892 (5th Dist., Nov. 21, 2017). First, the court approved the use of 2007 operating data for the … Continue Reading

Court May Order Partial Decertification and Leave Approvals in Place After Finding EIR Legally Inadequate

In Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 17 Cal. App.5th 1245 (2017) the court of appeal held a court order that requires partial decertification of an Environmental Impact Report and leaves some project approvals in place is a legally permissible remedy when an EIR has been found legally … Continue Reading

Certified Regulatory Programs Must Comply with CEQA’s Policies and Substantive Standards

A certified regulatory program, which is exempt from some of CEQA’s requirements, must still comply with CEQA’s core policies and standards, which include considering feasible alternatives and cumulative impacts and recirculating environmental review documents in certain circumstances, the court of appeal held in Pesticide Action Network North America v. California Department of Pesticide Regulation, 16 … Continue Reading

Court Rejects Claim That Clinic Protests Might Cause Significant Environmental Impacts

A court of appeal has ruled that opponents of a new Planned Parenthood clinic did not establish a fair argument that anti-clinic protests might cause significant environmental effects.  Therefore, the City of South San Francisco did not err in finding the clinic project exempt from CEQA.  Respect Life South San Francisco v. City of South … Continue Reading

Petitioner’s Failure to Comply With Discovery Regarding its Standing to Sue Results in Dismissal of CEQA Case

A CEQA case challenging the City of Wildomar’s approval of a Wal-Mart retail complex has been dismissed because the petitioner refused to comply with discovery requests regarding its standing to sue.  Creed-21 v. City of Wildomar, 4th Dist. Court of Appeal Case No.E066367 (pub. order 12/19/2017). CEQA cases generally are decided on the administrative record … Continue Reading

Failure to Identify Preferred Alternative Dooms EIR

A draft EIR that studies five very different project alternatives without identifying a preferred alternative violates CEQA by failing to provide the public with a stable project to review, the court of appeal held in Washoe Meadows Community v. Department of Parks and Recreation, No. A145576 (1st Dist., Nov. 15, 2017). The California Department of … Continue Reading

CEQA Not Preempted by Federal Rail Transportation Law for Projects Carried Out by State Agencies

The California Supreme Court has issued its decision in Friends of the Eel River v. North Coast Railroad, an important case regarding preemption of state environmental law by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA), which contemplates a unified national system of railroad lines subject to federal, not state, regulation.  The court held that the … Continue Reading

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
LexBlog