On June 3, 2013, a superior court judge in Alameda County entered a final order and judgment striking down AB 900 as unconstitutional and enjoined the State Controller from funding activities related to its implementation. AB 900 (codified at Pub. Res. Code § 21185(a)) was enacted in 2011 to streamline suits challenging the adequacy of the environmental review of select large-scale projects, certified by the Governor as “leadership projects.” The legislature granted original jurisdiction of such actions to the courts of appeal, bypassing the superior courts, so as to spur job-creating development by reducing the time and costs of CEQA litigation for developers.
The judge held the law violated California Constitution, Article 6, § 10, which provides that the “Supreme Court, courts of appeal, superior courts, and their judges have original jurisdiction…in proceedings for extraordinary relief in the nature of mandamus…” CEQA suits are mandamus actions and the Constitution grants review over these actions to all three levels of state courts, including the superior courts. By directing parties to bring suit in the courts of appeal, the law impermissibly limited the jurisdictional breadth granted to trial courts and the Supreme Court by the California Constitution