Category: Environmental Resources

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Fourth District Court of Appeal Finds Minor Telecommunications Facility on Dedicated Park Land Is Not An “Unusual Circumstance” Exception to CEQA Small Facility Exemption

In Don’t Cell Our Parks v. City of San Diego (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 338, the Fourth District Court of Appeal found that the San Diego City Charter (Charter 55) did not prohibit the City of San Diego (City) from approving a telecommunications project within real property held in perpetuity by the City for “park purposes.” The … Continue Reading

Private Attorney General Doctrine Attorney’s Fee Award Proper Where Financial Burden Disproportionate to Financial Stake

In Heron Bay Home Owner’s Association v. City of San Leandro (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 376, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court judgement awarding partial attorneys’ fees where the financial burden of enforcement made an award appropriate pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5. The Heron Bay Homeowners’ Association (Heron Bay) … Continue Reading

Third District Court of Appeal Gives Great Deference in Quasi-Judicial Agency Decision Not to Delist Coho Salmon, Ending Decades-Long Dispute

In Central Coast Forest Association v. Fish and Game Commission (2018) 18 Cal. App. 5th 1191, the California Third District Court of Appeal found the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) was correct to deny a petition to delist coho salmon from state protection under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Deferring to the scientific … Continue Reading

PLACER COUNTY’S HOMEWOOD VILLAGE RESORT EIR COMES UNDER FIRE

In an unpublished opinion, Cal. Clean Energy Comm. V. County of Placer, 2015 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 9360, the Third Appellate District granted California Clean Energy Committee’s (Clean Energy) petition for writ of mandate challenging the County of Placer’s (County) approval of a proposal to expand an existing ski resort on the West Shore of … Continue Reading

SUPREME COURT DELAYS DEVELOPMENT OF NEWHALL RANCH PROJECT

On November 30, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2015 Cal. LEXIS 1043, addressing Newhall Ranch, a proposed 12,000 acre development project. The Newhall Ranch Specific Plan area, located in northwestern Los Angeles County in a portion of the Santa Clara River … Continue Reading

ON REMAND, FIRST DISTRICT MODIFIES CITY OF HAYWARD OPINION TO REQUIRE FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE FEASIBILITY OF OFF-SITE MITIGATION

In its 2012 opinion, City of Hayward v. Board of Trustees of the California State University, 204 Cal.App.4th 446, the First District concluded that the EIR for an expansion of the California State University East Bay campus was adequate in all respects except for its analysis of parkland impacts.  While the opinion also discussed the … Continue Reading

FEDERAL COURT GRANTS SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON MOST CLAIMS TO LOCAL AND FEDERAL AGENCIES FOR CEQA AND NEPA CHALLENGES TO LOS ANGELES LIGHT RAIL PROJECT

In Crenshaw Subway Coalition v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143642, the United States District Court for the Central District of California granted summary judgment on all but one claim in favor of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“Metro”) and the Federal Traffic Administration (“FTA”) against Crenshaw Subway Coalition’s … Continue Reading

SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT AFFIRMS EIR FOR THE WESTSIDE SUBWAY EXTENSION PROJECT IN LOS ANGELES

In Beverly Hills Unified School District v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 930, the Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s decision and rejected challenges to the environmental impact report/environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) for the Westside Subway Extension Project. The Constellation station alignment recommended for the subway extension required controversial … Continue Reading

NEW GUIDANCE ON BASELINES WHEN PROJECT IS REUSING OR REPLACING AN EXISTING BUILDING

On October 9, 2015, the Court of Appeal partially published the Fourth Appellate District’s opinion in North County Advocates v. City of Carlsbad (2015) 2015 Cal.App.LEXIS 891 (North County). The published portion of the opinion discusses an important exception to the traditional baseline determination under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Generally, the baseline consists … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rejects the California State University System’s Erroneous Interpretation of City of Marina v. Board of Trustees of California State University (2006) 39 Cal.4th 341 Regarding its Duty to Mitigate Off-Campus Impacts

After months of anticipation, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on City of San Diego v. Trustees of the California State University, S199557, affirming the appellate court’s ruling that the California State University (CSU) should have evaluated one or more possible project modifications to its Project to reduce or avoid unmitigated off-site traffic impacts. The … Continue Reading

Supplement to 16 year old EIR is Acceptable, Project Proponents Need Not Address Every Comment Following Public Review.

In City of Irvine v. County of Orange, (July 6, 2015, G049527)__Cal.App.4th__, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the adequacy of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) prepared approximately 16 years after the original EIR was adopted. The court granted publication on July 7, 2015. The dispute began in 1996 when the City of … Continue Reading

Double Dribble: Court Rejects Second CEQA Lawsuit Over the Downtown Sacramento Arena

In Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento, 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 150, the California Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of a writ of mandate challenging the environmental impact report (EIR) for an arena in downtown Sacramento (arena project) and held the City of Sacramento (City) did not prematurely commit itself to … Continue Reading

When is Agency Action Considered a Project under CEQA? When the Legislature Says So.

In Rominger v. County of Colusa, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 813, the Court of Appeal for the Third District overturned the trial court and held a proposed subdivision approved by Colusa County was a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), even though the proposal did not include any specific plans for development. The … Continue Reading

City Violated its Municipal Code by Delegating CEQA Approval to its Preservation Commission

In Citizens for the Restoration of L Street v. City of Fresno, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 786,the Fifth Appellate District affirmed a judgment granting a writ of mandate challenging the City of Fresno’s (City) approval of an infill development project. The court upheld the trial court’s ruling that the City violated the California Environmental Quality … Continue Reading

Court Publishes General Plan Consistency Discussion in Case Upholding San Francisco Redevelopment Project

On September 4, 2014, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth District granted a request to publish an additional portion of the recent case San Francisco Tomorrow v. City & County of San Francisco, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 800. The previously published opinion affirmed the City and County of San Francisco’s approval of a redevelopment … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Rejects Challenges to Redevelopment Project in San Francisco Neighborhood

In a partially published opinion in San Francisco Tomorrow v. City and County of San Francisco, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 735, the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District upheld denial of a petition for a writ of mandate seeking to overturn approval of a 152-acre redevelopment project near Lake Merced in southwest San … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Issues Neighbors for Smart Rail Decision: Predicted Conditions Baseline Allowable Under CEQA in Limited Circumstances

In a much anticipated decision, the California Supreme Court held in Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority that lead agencies can use future predicted conditions as an environmental baseline in assessing the impacts of proposed projects. The court held that in order for an agency to omit the normally required existing … Continue Reading

A Mendocino County Quarry Project Can’t Keep the ACE in the Hole, Court Finds Inadequate the EIR’s Farmland Conversion Analysis

On July 27, 2010, Mendocino County approved the Kunzler Terrace Mine Project, a 65.3 acre sand and gravel quarry one mile north of Ukiah. Project opponents sued, alleging various CEQA violations. The First District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the challengers and published the portion of the decision addressing impacts to agricultural lands. … Continue Reading

Court Rejects CEQA and Williamson Act Challenges to a San Benito Solar Power Project

In Save Panoche Valley v. San Benito County, the Court of Appeal for the Sixth Appellate District affirmed a ruling denying a petition for a writ of mandate alleging violations of CEQA in San Benito County’s (County) approval of a solar power project and related cancellation of Williamson Act contracts. This decision follows on the … Continue Reading

Court Turns Tide in Favor of Desalination Plant – Holds Ample Substantial Evidence Supports the Project’s EIR

Almost four years after the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) certified an environmental impact report (EIR) and approved a five million gallon a day desalination plant project, the Court of Appeal, First District, in a published opinion (N. Coast Rivers Alliance v. Marin Mun. Water Dist. Bd. of Dirs. (2013) 2013 Cal.App.LEXIS 401), reversed the … Continue Reading

A Dark Day for Hoover High School – Court Finds Mitigated Negative Declaration for Stadium Improvements Inadequate

In a decision that was ordered published on April 25, 2013, Taxpayers for Accountable School Bond Spending v. San Diego Unified School District (March 26, 2013) 2013 Cal.App.LEXIS 324, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, held that a high school could not use general obligation bond revenue to pay for new stadium lighting because … Continue Reading

Tahoe Resort Expansion Delayed for Improper CEQA Alternatives Analysis

In Sierra Club v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (January 4, 2013) U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1628, the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of California granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, finding a proposed project’s alternatives analysis violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The court ordered the defendants to delay construction until a legally … Continue Reading

Sixth District Thirsty for a More Robust Alternatives Analysis

In Habitat v. City of Santa Cruz (Feb. 19, 2013) 2013 Cal.App.LEXIS 128, the Sixth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court decision and ordered the City of Santa Cruz (City) to vacate its certification of the final EIR and approval of a project because the EIR failed to discuss any feasible project alternatives … Continue Reading

Court Finds CEQA Challenge Not Worth its Weight in Sand

In  Save Cuyama Valley v. County of Santa Barbara (Jan. 10, 2013) 2013 Cal.App.LEXIS 212, the Sixth District Court of Appeal issued a decision upholding the trial court’s denial of Save Cuyama Valley’s (Save Cuyama) petition for a writ of mandate against the County of Santa Barbara (County).  Save Cuyama contended that the Environmental Impact … Continue Reading
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