Category: CEQA

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EIR Addendum Process Upheld Against Facial Challenge

The California Court of Appeal rejected a facial challenge to the EIR addendum process, and held that an agency is not required to make new findings in connection with approval of an EIR addendum. Save Our Heritage Organisation v. City of San Diego, 28 Cal. App. 5th 656 (2018). Background In 2012, the City of … Continue Reading

City Approval of Agreement for Tree Removal Triggered 90-Day Statute of Limitations Under Planning and Zoning Law

Broadly construing Government Code § 65009, which establishes a 90-day limitations period for claims under the Planning and Zoning Law, an appellate court held that approval of an agreement allowing removal of trees constituted a “decision regarding a permit,” triggering the 90-day filing deadline. Save Lafayette Trees v. City of Lafayette, No. A154168 (1st Dist., … Continue Reading

Possibility that Zoning Standards Might Be Violated in Final Design Did Not Mandate EIR at Tentative Map Stage

A project opponent’s argument that the project might violate zoning laws in the future is not sufficient to require a city to prepare an EIR under CEQA. Friends of Riverside’s Hills v. City of Riverside, 26 Cal.App.5th 1137 (2018). The Lofgrens requested a residential development permit to build six single-family homes on an 11-acre parcel … Continue Reading

Seven-Year Extension of Diablo Canyon Lease Held Exempt from CEQA

A court of appeal has rejected CEQA and public trust challenges to a State Lands Commission lease extension allowing the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to continue operating through 2025.  World Business Academy v. California State Lands Commission, 24 Cal. App. 4th 476 (2018). Pacific Gas & Electric Company plans to cease operating Diablo Canyon … Continue Reading

Negative Declaration Survives Challenge Based on Non-Expert Opinion About Noise Impacts

Claims of significant noise impact unsupported by expert opinion, fact, or reasonable inference did not provide grounds for challenging a negative declaration, the court of appeal held in Jensen v. City of Santa Rosa, 23 Cal. App. 5th 877 (2018). The project, called the Dream Center, would provide emergency shelter for homeless youth and transitional … Continue Reading

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
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