The plaintiff challenged the City’s approval and construction of a retail-cinema redevelopment project in the City’s downtown. While the lawsuit was pending before the Superior Court the plaintiff did not seek a temporary injunction or stay and, as a result, the project was fully constructed before the Superior Court issued its ruling in favor of the plaintiff on various grounds. The First District Court of Appeal reversed the Superior Court’s judgment against the City, and remanded with instructions for the Superior Court to dismiss the case. The Appellate Court held that the project’s completion rendered the plaintiff’s challenge moot and the Superior Court should not have decided the case. The Court also ruled that the plaintiff cannot challenge the City’s future plans to use its property – the plaintiff must wait until it has a ripe controversy.
A court is unlikely to find a CEQA lawsuit is moot where a respondent agency or real party in interest constructs a project after a trial court has ruled that the respondent agency failed to comply with CEQA. (see, e.g., Woodward Park Homeowners Assn. v. Garreks, Inc. (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 880, 881-882.) Wilson & Wilson, however, demonstrates that a court may find a case is rendered moot when a project is substantially completed prior to a Superior Court issuing a ruling in the litigation.