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The Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) approved an agreement between the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) and the City of Santa Cruz (City), which stated that the City would extend water and sewer services to UCSC’s north campus, an area just outside the city’s jurisdictional boundaries. The Community Water Coalition (CWC) challenged LAFCO’s jurisdiction because the application was filed by the recipient of the services, UCSC, instead of the provider, City. The City responded with a demurrer claiming the jurisdiction was appropriate. The trial court sustained the demurrer with leave to amend. The Petitioner amended its complaint and added a CEQA cause of action. The City again demurred and this time the trial court denied the petition without leave to amend. The Sixth District Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s decision. First, the Court explained that a city seeking to provide services outside its jurisdictional boundaries must receive approval from LAFCO. It does not matter if the city files the application or if the recipient files it. As long as the city that is providing the services is a party to the agreement, LAFCO has jurisdiction and can decide whether to extend the services or not. Second, the Court explained that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the newly alleged CEQA cause of action. The Court explained “when a trial court sustains a demurrer with leave to amend, the scope of the grant of leave is ordinarily a limited one. It gives the pleader an opportunity to cure the defects in the particular causes of action to which the demurrer was sustained, but that is all.” Because the trial court granted leave to amend the complaint only to address the cause of action concerning LAFCO’s jurisdiction, the court properly rejected Petitioner’s new CEQA cause of action.

Key Point:

Where leave is required to amend a petition, a Petitioner may not amend a complaint to add a CEQA cause of action without first obtaining permission from the court to add the new cause of action.

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