Category: CEQA

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Court of Appeal Denies Project Opponents a Chance to Relitigate CEQA Claims

The court of appeal held that a challenge to a partially recirculated EIR of the County of Amador was barred by the doctrine of res judicata, which precludes relitigation by the same parties of issues previously adjudicated on the merits. Ione Valley Land, Air and Water Defense Alliance v. County of Amador, No. C081893 (3rd. … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Holds CEQA Review Is Not Required for Project That Is Only Subject to Design Review

The court of appeal held that the City of St. Helena did not violate CEQA by approving a demolition permit and design review for a multi-family residential project without preparing an environmental impact report. McCorkle Eastside Neighborhood Group v. City of St. Helena (2018) 31 Cal.App.5th 80.  The court held that because the city’s discretion … Continue Reading

29th Annual Briefing on Land Use and Development Law — Materials Available

Perkins Coie attorneys, including regular contributors to this report, recently presented the 29th Annual Land Use & Development Law Briefing in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Walnut Creek. The presentation focused on 2018 legal developments and trends in land use, affordable housing, CEQA, wetlands and endangered species. The final presentation in this year’s series is … Continue Reading

CEQA YEAR IN REVIEW — 2018

A Summary of Published Appellate Opinions Under the California Environmental Quality Act The California Supreme Court issued its only CEQA opinion of 2018 at the end of the year. In Sierra Club v. County of Fresno, the court rejected a standard air quality impact analysis in the EIR for a typical mixed-use development project. The … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Holds that Petition Challenging Wal-Mart Project is Barred by Earlier Lawsuit Raising the Same Issues

The court of appeal held that the plaintiff’s challenge to the City of Rohnert Park’s reapproval of a Wal-Mart grocery store was barred by the doctrine of res judicata because a prior proceeding had raised the same issues.  Atwell v. City of Rohnert Park (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.), 27 Cal. App. 5th 692 (2018). In 2010, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court To Decide If CEQA Review Is Required For Well Permits.

The Supreme Court of California has granted review of two cases to resolve a split among courts of appeal over whether the issuance of well permits pursuant to state standards is subject to CEQA. California Water Impact Network v. County of San Luis Obispo and Protecting Our Water & Environmental Resources v. Stanislaus County. At … Continue Reading

New Guidelines for Assessing Transportation Impacts Under CEQA Finalized

The California Natural Resources Agency has adopted new CEQA Guidelines that will leave behind level of service in favor of vehicle miles traveled. Following years of development and public comment, the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and the Natural Resources Agency have issued new CEQA Guidelines for analyzing transportation impacts.  These new regulations represent … Continue Reading

Agency May Take Over Preparation of the Record in a CEQA Case if the Petitioners Unreasonable Delays Preparing It

Where a petitioner in a CEQA case has elected to prepare the administrative record but unreasonably delays such preparation, the defendant agency may prepare the record itself and be awarded costs for doing so.  LandWatch San Luis Obispo Co. v. Cambria Comm. Serv. Dist., 25 Cal. App. 5th 638 (2018). LandWatch, a nonprofit organization, filed … Continue Reading

Aesthetic and Traffic Issues in Historic Overlay District Necessitate EIR

A court of appeal has overturned a city’s mitigated negative declaration for a small mixed-use development in a historic overlay district, holding that aesthetic and traffic issues require the preparation of an environmental impact report. Protect Niles v. City of Fremont, 25 Cal. App. 5th 1129 (2018). The proposed project, comprising 98 housing units and … Continue Reading

Determinations Regarding Compatibility of Residential Uses with Timberland Production are Ministerial and Hence Exempt from CEQA Review

The Third District Court of Appeal rejected a CEQA challenge to a county’s general plan update, holding that a county’s California Timberland Productivity Act finding that a residence or structure is necessary for timberland production zone management is not a discretionary act for CEQA purposes.  High Sierra Rural Alliance v. County of Plumas, 29 Cal. … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Sets Standard for Air Quality Impact Analyses Under CEQA

The California Supreme Court has overturned the environmental impact report for a mixed-use development project, holding that the EIR inadequately explained the human health consequences of significant air pollutant emissions that would result from the development.  Sierra Club v. County of Fresno, Cal. Supreme Court Case No. S219783 (Dec. 24, 2018).    In so doing, the … Continue Reading

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
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