Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

On January 5, 2024, the Third District Court of Appeal, upheld the Department of Water Resources’ (“DWR’s”) approval of amendments to long-term contracts with local government agencies that receive water through the State Water Project in Planning and Conservation League, et al v. Department of Water Resources, et al, etc. (2024) 98 Cal.App.5th 726.

In Tsakopoulos Investments v. County of Sacramento (2023) 95 Cal. App. 5th 280, the Third District Court of Appeal (“Court”) upheld the County of Sacramento’s (“County”) certification of the Mather South Community Master Plan (the “Master Plan” or “Project”) environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In the published portion

The Sixth District Court of Appeal, in Santa Rita Union School District v. City of Salinas (2023), 94 Cal.App.5th 298, reversed the lower court, finding that the City of Salinas’ (“City”) final programmatic environmental impact report (EIR) for the West Area Specific Plan (“Specific Plan” or “Project”) did not need to analyze the impacts

In Marina Coast Water Dist. v. County of Monterey (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 46, the Sixth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling, rejecting Marina Coast Water District’s (“MCWD”) challenge to the sufficiency of the environmental review process for the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project (“Project”). The court held that Monterey County’s (“County”)

In Lucas v. City of Pomona (2023) 92 Cal.App.5th 508, the Second District of the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision that the City of Pomona’s (“City”) application of the statutory exemption under CEQA Guidelines section 15183 was proper for approval of a zoning overlay district for commercial cannabis activities (the “Project”). Applying

On June 23rd, the Fourth District published Save Our Access v. City of San Diego (2023) 92 Cal.App.5th 819, holding that a city’s approval of a ballot measure to remove the 30-foot Coastal Zone height limit in a community planning area required further environmental review. The Court concluded that the program EIR

In Claremont Canyon Conservancy v. Regents of the University of California (2023) 92 Cal.App.5th 474, two organizations, the Claremont Canyon Conservancy and the Hills Conservation Network, filed petitions for writ of mandate challenging the adequacy of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) for a plan to conduct a Wildland Vegetative Fuel Management Plan to decrease wildfire risk at the University of California, Berkeley’s Hill Campus. Consolidated in the trial court, the petitions asserted that the EIR’s project description and discussion of environmental impacts were inadequate, arguing that the EIR lacked important details about the precise number of trees to be removed under the Plan. The trial court agreed, and halted the Plan. In a dramatic turn, the Court of Appeal reversed, finding that “the EIR include[d] sufficient detail to enable the public to understand the environmental impacts associated with the Regents’ plan to remove vegetation in specific locations on the Hill Campus to reduce wildlife risk.” The case helps settle the level of detail required in an EIR’s project description, particularly where some details may be subject to refinement when implementing the project.

The California Supreme Court, on May 17, 2023, granted review of the First District Court of Appeal’s decision in Make UC a Good Neighbor v. Regents of University of California (2023) 88 Cal.App.5th 656, where the Court of Appeal invalidated the EIR for UC Berkeley’s Long Range Development Plan and a housing development at People’s Park. The appellate court found two issues with the EIR: (1) it did not sufficiently justify the decision not to consider alternative locations for the student housing project at People’s Park, and (2) it did not assess potential noise impacts from student parties. The decision invigorated calls for CEQA reform and attracted scrutiny for its recognition of “party noise” as an environmental impact.

The Sixth Appellate District, on May 10, 2023, published a decision in Preservation Action Council of San Jose v. City of San Jose (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 517 upholding the City of San Jose’s certification of a final supplemental EIR (SEIR) for development of three high-rise office towers in downtown San Jose on a site that contained several historic structures. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of the petition for writ of mandate and held that the SEIR’s consideration of proposed compensatory mitigation for historic buildings was sufficient and that the City adequately responded to comments requesting compensatory mitigation.

In E. Oakland Stadium Alliance v. City of Oakland (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 1226, the First District Court of Appeal concluded that the EIR prepared for the proposed Oakland A’s stadium was largely satisfactory, but on a single point failed to adequately mitigate wind impacts.

The Oakland Waterfront Ballpark Project (Project) proposed a 50-acre development