Category: Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

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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

Court Holds CEQA Is Not Preempted in Federal Hydroelectric Relicensing Proceeding

In County of Butte v. Dep’t of Wat. Resources (2022) 13 Cal.5th 612, issued on August 1, 2022, the California Supreme Court carved out a role for the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) even where the project is largely governed by a federal proceeding.  The case arose in connection with the relicensing of the Oroville … Continue Reading

Third District Invalidates Water Bottling Facility EIR for Overly Narrow Project Objectives and Failure to Recirculate

On April 20, 2022, the Third District Court of Appeal filed its opinion in We Advocate Through Environmental Review v. County of Siskiyou (2022) 78 Cal.App.5th 683, reversing the trial court’s judgment upholding the County’s Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for a water bottling facility. The court held that (1) the County’s EIR for the botting … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Makes Clear That Lead Agencies and Responsible Agencies Alike Must Make Findings Under CEQA

On May 11, 2022, the Third District Court of Appeal published its opinion in We Advocate Through Environmental Review v. City of Mount Shasta (2022) 78 Cal.App.5th 629, reversing the decision below and ordering the trial court to grant a petition for writ of mandate, specifying actions under CEQA that the City of Mt. Shasta … Continue Reading

Third Appellate District Upholds EIR for El Dorado Irrigation District’s Upper Main Ditch Piping Project

In an opinion certified for publication on February 16, 2022, the Third District Court of Appeal upheld El Dorado Irrigation District’s decision to certify an environmental impact report (EIR) for and approve the Upper Main Ditch piping project, affirming the trial court’s judgment denying a petition for writ of mandate. The Upper Main Ditch is … 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

Full Quantification of Water Rights Not Required for CEQA Review, Second District Declares

On March 22, 2022, the Second District Court of Appeal published its Opinion in Buena Vista Water Storage District v. Kern Water Bank Authority, upholding the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Kern Water Bank Authority’s Conservation and Storage Project (“Project”) and reversing the trial court’s ruling. The Project proposes to divert up to 500,000 … Continue Reading

Project Applicants and Lead Agencies Cannot Have it Both Ways: CEQA Requires Preparation of an MND or EIR, But Not Both

In an opinion certified for partial publication, the Third Appellate District on November 3, 2021, decided Farmland Protection Alliance v. County of Yolo, finding that the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) does not allow an agency to split environmental review across multiple levels of review—for example, by preparing a negative declaration to address some project … 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

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

Residents’ Comments About Existing Fire Hazards Do Not Constitute Substantial Evidence of a New Project’s Impacts Under CEQA

In June 2021, the Third District Court of Appeal upheld the County of El Dorado’s (“County”) mitigated negative declaration (“MND”) for a bridge construction project against complaints that the project’s construction would block an evacuation route for residents in the event of a wildfire. In its holding in Newtown Preservation Society v. County of El … Continue Reading

First District Denies Challenge to Napa County Approval of Mining Operations Because Petitioner Failed to Exhaust Administrative Remedies and CEQA Requires Limited Review of General Plan Consistency

In Stop Syar Expansion v. County of Napa (2021) 63 Cal.App.5th 444, the First District Court of Appeal upheld Napa County’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the expansion of Syar Industries, Inc.’s aggregate mining operations at a local quarry. Citizen group Stop Syar Expansion (“SSE”) filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate under CEQA claiming … Continue Reading

Poseidon’s Desalination Plant’s Supplemental EIR Holds Water According to the Court of Appeal

In California Coastkeeper v. State Lands Commission, the Third District Court of Appeal upheld the State Lands Commission’s decision to prepare a supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) for a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, overturning an earlier trial court ruling that invalidated the EIR.  Limited changes to a desalination project were proposed in order to … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Grants Review of Third District’s Preemption Decision

On December 11, 2019, the California Supreme Court granted review of the Third District’s decision in County of Butte v. Department of Water Resources, dismissing a CEQA challenge to DWR’s relicensing application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Oroville Dam on the basis that the claim was preempted by federal law. The … Continue Reading

First Appellate District Approves Responsible Agency’s Imposition of Mitigation Not Considered in the EIR

In an opinion filed on December 29, 2020, the First Appellate District in Santa Clara Valley Water District v. San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board upheld a Responsible Agency’s imposition of additional mitigation more than a year after it had issued an initial approval for the project.  Although the court was careful to … 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

Second Appellate District Expands Baseline Analysis in Upholding Environmental Impact Report for Refinery Project Intended to Help Reduce Air Pollutants

Last month, the Second Appellate District upheld the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (“Air District”) Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”), which the Air District prepared to analyze the environmental impacts of a refinery project that was intended to increase compliance and help reduce air pollution.  Communities for a Better Environment v. So. Coast Air Quality … 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

Two CEQA Statute of Limitations Cases, Two Different Results

California Courts of Appeal recently issued two cases addressing the strict statute of limitations applicable to agency action under CEQA. Citizens for a Responsible Caltrans Decision v. Department of Transportation –  (March 24, 2020, D074374) __ Cal.5th__ The Fourth District in Citizens for a Responsible Caltrans Decision v. Department of Transportation overturned a lower court’s … Continue Reading

Fifth Appellate District Invalidates Kern County Oil and Gas Ordinance

On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, the Fifth Appellate District invalidated Kern County’s 2015 Oil and Gas Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), which was intended to streamline the permitting process for a variety of oil and gas activities within unincorporated portions of the County, including for oil and gas production wells and related infrastructure such as well pads … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Requires De Novo Review for EIR Adequacy Challenges and Imposes Heightened EIR Requirements Connecting Environmental Impacts with Specific Health Consequences

In a long-awaited decision, on December 24, 2018 the California Supreme Court in Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (S219783) affirmed, in part, and reversed, in part, the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s decision concerning a challenge to the adequacy of an EIR prepared for the Friant Ranch retirement community (“Project”).  Employing a de novo … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Hears CEQA Appeal Questioning the Appropriate Legal Standard of Review for EIR Challenges and the Need for More Specific Health Impact Analyses

On October 2, after waiting over three-and-a-half years, the California Supreme Court finally heard oral arguments in Sierra Club et al. v. County of Fresno et al. (Case No. S219783).  This case, which challenges an EIR prepared for the Friant Ranch retirement community in Fresno County, raises far-reaching and consequential CEQA questions, namely, the standard … Continue Reading

First Appellate District Upholds Several Aspects of the EIR Prepared for Phillips 66 Efforts to Enhance Recovery of Petroleum Refinery Products

In a March 2018 decision, the First Appellate District examined several CEQA issues pertinent to petroleum refining and hazardous materials transport.  In Rodeo Citizens Association v. County of Contra Costa, the appeals court affirmed several findings of the lower court, dismissing challenges to the environmental impact report (“EIR”) prepared for a propane and butane recovery … Continue Reading

Update: SCOTUS Declines Review of Friends of the Eel River CEQA Preemption Decision

The United States Supreme Court will not be taking up the California Supreme Court’s July 2017 decision in the Friends of the Eel River case.  In that decision, authored by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, the California Supreme Court held that the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA) did not preempt application of CEQA to the … Continue Reading
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