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Petitioner claimed the County of Madera’s (County) approval of a development project failed to comply with CEQA, Planning and Zoning Law, and the California Water Code. The Superior Court found for the Petitioner, holding that the EIR’s discussion of the water supply was inadequate. The Petitioner appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal claiming there were other issues with the EIR, especially regarding its analysis of traffic impacts and historical resources. The County cross-appealed. With respect to the water supply analysis, the Court upheld the trial court’s decision that the EIR was inadequate. The EIR explained that on-site demands will be met with water from the San Joaquin River, but it failed to include all the circumstances that could affect the likelihood of availability of water. In addressing the traffic impacts, the Court explained that an agency may not use projected future events as a baseline for EIR analysis. The County should use a baseline for traffic analysis that reflects conditions as they exist at the time the County announced that it would prepare an EIR for its project. In addressing petitioner’s challenge to the historical resources analysis, the Court held that determination of a site’s historical significance must be made before certification of the final EIR. The court also explained that an EIR must include feasible mitigation measures to help preserve archaeological historical resources.

Key Point:

An EIR must disclose and adopt adequate mitigation to address the potential for a project to impact historically significant archaeological resources. Additionally, as determined in Sunnyvale West Neighborhood Assn. v. City of Sunnyvale City Council (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 1351, a traffic analysis cannot be based on a hypothetical future-conditions environmental baseline.

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