Category: CEQA Guidelines

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Petitioner Required To Post Bond For Costs Incurred As A Result Of Delay In Carrying Out Affordable Housing Project In Livermore

In Save Livermore Downtown v. City of Livermore (Dec. 28, 2022, Case No. A164987) __ Cal.App.1st __, the First District Court of Appeal held that the City of Livermore (City) did not violate planning and zoning laws when it approved a 130-unit affordable housing project (Project) in the downtown area. The Project was found to … Continue Reading

Residential Development Project Consistent with Specific Plan Found Exempt from Further CEQA Review

In Citizens’ Committee to Complete the Refuge v. City of Newark (2021) 74 Cal.App.5th 460, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling that a residential project in a specific plan area in the city of Newark fell within Government Code section 65457, a statutory exemption under CEQA for residential development projects … Continue Reading

First District Invalidates Garaventa Hills EIR for Improperly Classifying No-Project Alternative of Preserving Residentially-Zoned Land as Infeasible

On March 30, 2022, the First District Court of Appeal published its opinion in Save the Hill Group v. City of Livermore (2022) 76 Cal.App.5th 1092, invalidating an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for the Garaventa Hills Project (“Project”) because it failed to disclose the feasibility of funding sources or rezoning that could allow the City … Continue Reading

New NEPA Rule Restores Demanding Environmental Review Practices for Major Federal Projects

On April 19, 2022, the Biden administration finalized a new rule (“Final Rule”) rolling back the Trump administration’s 2020 changes limiting the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Final Rule re-establishes the prior broader scope of NEPA review, restores key provisions of NEPA that existed prior to 2020, and requires a more … Continue Reading

BAAQMD Modifies its CEQA Thresholds for Evaluating the Significance of Climate Impacts from Land Use Projects and Plans

  On April 20, 2022, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) adopted changes to its thresholds for evaluating the significance of climate impacts from land use projects and plans under CEQA.  These thresholds of significance changes are important because they can be used by agencies as guidelines for determining climate impacts from projects … Continue Reading

In Consolidated Appeals, Third District Upholds Multiple Trial Court Decisions in Decades-Long Litigation Over CEQA Review of State Water Project Contracts

In Central Delta Water Agency v. Department of Water Resources (2021) 69 Cal.App.5th 170, the Third District Court of Appeal considered three consolidated appeals arising out of long-term water contracts that have been the subject of repeated rounds of environmental review and litigation lasting decades. In each of the consolidated cases, the Court of Appeal set … Continue Reading

Third Appellate District Recognizes Unique Regional Resources at Lake Tahoe in Finding Olympic Valley Resort EIR Flawed

In September 2021, the Third District Court of Appeal in Sierra Watch v. Placer County reversed a judgement upholding Placer County’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a resort development project in the Olympic (formerly Squaw) Valley area. In the published portion of the opinion, the court found errors in the EIR’s description of the environmental … Continue Reading

Real Parties in Interest Are Not Automatically Indispensable Parties to CEQA Litigation

In Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods v. The Regents of the University of California, Case No. A160560, the Court of Appeal held that under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and related procedural rules, real parties in interest are not automatically considered indispensable parties to CEQA litigation.  Whether a real party in interest is indispensable turns on … Continue Reading

Are Reductions in Parking a CEQA Impact – Second District Finds Context is Key

On August 19, 2021, in Save Our Access – San Gabriel Mountains vs. Watershed Conservation Authority, the Second District Court of Appeal, in reversing the lower court’s judgement, upheld an Environmental Impact Report’s (EIR’s) finding of less than significant impact under CEQA for an intentional reduction in parking meant to protect and restore the environment. … Continue Reading

Petitioners Strike Out—Court Finds Statutory Deadline Does Not Preclude Streamlining of Oakland A’s Stadium Project

In August 2021, the First District Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Pacific Merchant Shipping Association v. Newsom, where the court held that Public Resources Code section 21168.6.7 does not impose on the Governor a deadline by which to certify construction of a new baseball park and mixed-use development project at the Howard Terminal … Continue Reading

First District Court of Appeal Finds CEQA Claim Time-Barred Due to Insufficient Tolling Agreement

  On June 30, 2021, in Save Lafayette Trees, et. al v. East Bay Regional Park District (Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Real Party in Interest), the First District Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of a CEQA claim as time-barred because it found that PG&E, a necessary and indispensable party, was not bound to … Continue Reading

Properly Posting Notice of Determination Triggers Short CEQA Statute of Limitations Despite Not Providing the Notice to Petitioner as Requested

Published on February 9, 2021, the Court of Appeal in Organizacion Comunidad de Alviso v. City of San Jose held that the City of San Jose’s (“City’s”) posting of a second, revised Notice of Determination (“NOD”) adequately triggered CEQA’s abbreviated, 30-day statute of limitations despite the fact that the City failed to provide a copy … Continue Reading

In Martis Camp Ruling, Subsequent Review Under CEQA Hinges on the Right EIR

In an opinion published on August 17, 2020, the Third Appellate District in Martis Camp Community Association v. County of Placer ruled that Placer County had violated CEQA by adopting an addendum to support abandonment of a roadway. Despite the statutory presumption against subsequent review under CEQA, the Third District determined that the County had … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Throws the Barn Doors Open, Finding That Groundwater Well Permits Aren’t Necessarily Ministerial

On August 27, 2020, in Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources v. County of Stanislaus, Case No. S251709 (“Protecting Our Water”), the California Supreme Court held that the County in that instance could not categorically classify its issuance of groundwater well construction permits as ministerial decisions exempt from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality … Continue Reading

Sixth District Holds CEQA Does Not Require Supplemental Review for a Streambed Alteration Permit

The Sixth Appellate District, in Willow Glen Trestle Conservancy v. San Jose (2020) 49 Cal.App.5th 127, held that seeking a new Streambed Alteration Agreement (“SAA”) from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW”) for a previously approved project does not constitute a “further discretionary approval” within the meaning of CEQA Guidelines section 15162 and … Continue Reading

To VMT or not to VMT? Third District Says Level of Service No Longer Valid to Measure Traffic Impacts, But Use of Vehicle Miles Traveled is Not Yet Required

The Third District Court of Appeals recently weighed in on the interpretation of Public Resources Code section 21099(b)(2) (“Section 21099(b)(2)”) and newly enacted CEQA Guidelines section 15064.3, which govern the consideration of traffic impacts under CEQA. In Citizens for Positive Growth & Preservation v. City of Sacramento (2019) 43 Cal.App.5th 609 (“Citizens”), the Court determined … Continue Reading

2019 Amendments to the CEQA Guidelines: Part Two – Greenhouse Gases, Energy, and Wildfire Impacts

This post is Part Two of our blog series on the 2019 amendments to the CEQA Guidelines.  This post focuses on amendments in the areas of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, energy, and wildfire impacts, as well as a discussion of OPR’s draft CEQA and Climate Change Advisory. GHG Impacts and Draft CEQA and Climate Change … Continue Reading

2019 Amendments to the CEQA Guidelines: Part One – Transportation Impacts

On January 3, 2019 the Natural Resources Agency (“Agency”) announced that the long awaited comprehensive amendments to the CEQA Guidelines are now in effect.  The last major update to the Guidelines was in the late 1990s.  As a result, the Agency and the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) had a significant amount of material … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Set to Review Companion Groundwater Cases and Resolve When County-Issued Well Permits May Be Treated As Ministerial and Not Subject to CEQA

After a long drought, the California Supreme Court at its November 14, 2018 conference voted unanimously to grant review of three decisions involving the question of whether well permits issued pursuant to county ordinances and incorporating state groundwater well-drilling standards are ministerial and thus not subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). … Continue Reading

Fourth District Upholds San Diego’s Addendum for Balboa Park Revitalization Project, Validates the CEQA Addendum Process

On October 24, 2018, the Fourth Appellate District upheld the trial court’s decision in Save Our Heritage Organization v. City of San Diego (D073064), finding that the use of an addendum as outlined in section 15164 of the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) Guideline for approval of project modifications is valid under CEQA and does … Continue Reading

Bay Planning Coalition Workshop: 2018 CEQA Update and Federal Regulatory Developments

We’re pleased to share that Downey Brand partners Kathryn Oehlschlager and Christian Marsh will be speaking at the Bay Planning Commission’s 6th Annual CEQA and Federal Regulatory Update on Thursday, October 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP.  Kathryn and Christian join other leading experts in land use … Continue Reading

OPR Issues Helpful Technical Advisory Listing CEQA Exemptions Outside CEQA Statute

The CEQA Statute and Guidelines both contain provisions outlining what types of projects are exempt from environmental review. There are dozens of exemptions, however, that are listed in other provisions of the California codes that can be difficult to find. On June 6, 2018, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released a helpful … Continue Reading

Appeals Court Finds that EIR for Planned Los Angeles Railyard for Storage and Transfer of Goods Failed to Sufficiently Consider Air Quality Impacts

On January 12, 2018, the First Appellate District held that the California Attorney General need not exhaust administrative remedies in order to contest the adequacy of Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), as is normally required of third-party challengers under Section 21177.  City of Long Beach v. City of Los … Continue Reading

Limitations on Subsequent Review Under CEQA

Since the California Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling in Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens v. San Mateo County Community College District, California appeals courts have issued a spate of decisions addressing subsequent review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), including two in the last two months of 2016.  In both cases, the … Continue Reading
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