Category: Scope of CEQA

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CEQA Lawsuit, Latest in Decades of Local Opposition Delaying Marin County Housing Development, Met with Judicial Rebuke: “Something is very wrong with this picture”

In Tiburon Open Space Committee v. County of Marin (2022) 78 Cal.App.5th 700, the First District Court of Appeal considered the adequacy of an EIR certified by Marin County (County) for a residential development. The Court rejected a number of arguments raised by opponents, most prominently the argument that the EIR erred in recognizing limits on … Continue Reading

Small, Domestic Water Permit Deemed Ministerial, Exempt From CEQA

In Mission Peak Conservancy v. State Water Resources Control Bd. (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 873, the First District Court of Appeal held that the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) streamlined permitting process for small, domestic water appropriations was ministerial, reiterating that “CEQA does not regulate ministerial decisions—full stop.” Mission Peak Conservancy and an individual (collectively, MPC) … Continue Reading

Lake Norconian Club Foundation v. Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 39 Cal. App. 5th 1044

Lake Norconian Club Foundation v. Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 39 Cal. App. 5th 1044 The California Department of Corrections (Department) operates a prison next to the historic Lake Norconian Club, a former resort and hotel constructed in the 1920’s. The Department used the building as a drug rehabilitation facility, and later, as prison administrative … Continue Reading


On June 21, 2016, the First Appellate District partially published its opinion for Ukiah Citizens for Safety First v. City of Ukiah (Case No. A145581). The case involved a citizen group’s petition for writ of mandate challenging the certification of an environmental impact report (EIR) by the City of Ukiah (City) for the construction of … Continue Reading


In an unpublished opinion, Cal.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


On December 17, 2015, the Supreme Court filed a unanimous opinion in California Building Industry Association v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District (S213478). Interestingly, this is the first CEQA opinion to be drafted by the recently appointed Justice Cuéllar. This case pertains to the adoption of thresholds of significance for greenhouse gas emissions and … 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

Federal Law Preempts CEQA Review of Northern California Rail Line Operations

In Friends of Eel River v. North Coast Railroad Authority, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 877, the California Court of Appeal for the First District affirmed the trial court’s determination that federal law preempts the North Coast Railroad Authority’s (North Coast) obligation to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in repairing and operating a … 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

Supreme Court Holds that Voter Initiatives with Potential Environmental Impacts Need Not Comply with CEQA Mandates

In Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court of Tuolumne County, (August 7, 2014, S207173) __ Cal.4th __, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s issuance of a writ of mandate challenging the City of Sonora’s approval of an ordinance for the expansion of a big box store (Project) without first conducting complete … Continue Reading

Adoption of a Resolution Interpreting an Existing Conservation Easement Does Not Constitute Approval of a Project within the Meaning of CEQA

In an unpublished decision, Joseph W. Tresch v. County of Sonoma Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District Board of Directors (January 4, 2013) 2013 Cal. App. Unpub.LEXIS 67, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision upholding the County of Sonoma Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District Board of Directors’ (the District … Continue Reading

Physical Solution to Water Overdraft Trumps CEQA

In a partially published decision, Central Basin Municipal Water District v. Water Replenishment District of Southern California (Dec. 10, 2012) 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 1244, the Second District Court of Appeal determined that the Water Replenishment District of Southern California’s (WRD) declaration of a “water emergency” in the Central Basin did not constitute a “project” … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Holds Association’s CEQA Claims Regarding Klamath River Compromise Agreements are Time-Barred

In Siskiyou County Water Users Association v. Natural Resources Agency (2012) 2012 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7073, the Siskiyou County Water Users Association (Association) challenged a pair of compromise agreements made between stakeholders regarding the potential removal of hydroelectric dams to help restore fisheries on the Klamath River (Agreements), alleging the Agreements constituted a “project” … Continue Reading

Court Creates a Split in Authority by Holding a City was Compelled to Place a Voter-Backed Initiative on the Ballot Unless it Could Complete CEQA Review Within Election Law Time Limits

In Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court of Tuolumne County (2012) 2012 Cal.App.LEXIS 1138 (Tuolumne Jobs), the Fifth District Court of Appeal clarified that an effort by registered voters to qualify an initiative petition for the ballot does not foreclose the need for CEQA review unless the voters approve the initiative during … Continue Reading

Placing a Measure on the Ballot to Establish Competitive Bidding for Trash Service Contracts is not a Project under CEQA

In Chung v. City of Monterey Park, (2012) Cal.App. LEXIS 1097, the Second District Court of Appeal upheld a trial court’s ruling that Measure BB, a City of Monterey Park municipal ballot measure, was not a project subject to CEQA and therefore the measure did not require environmental review before being placed on the ballot. … Continue Reading

Attorney General Releases Report Interpreting CEQA to Require Consideration of Environmental Justice Issues at the Local and Regional Levels

On May 8, 2012, the California Attorney General’s office released a report entitled  “Environmental Justice at the Local and Regional Level – Legal Background” (Report) which interprets existing law to impose environmental justice obligations that local governments must consider when approving specific projects and planning for future development. “Environmental justice” is defined in the Government … Continue Reading

Ballona Wetlands Land Trust v. City of Los Angeles (2011) 201 Cal. App. 4th 455

In a 2004 case, the Superior Court, through directions from the Court of Appeal, issued the City of Los Angeles (City) a writ of mandate, invalidating its EIR because the City failed to comply with CEQA. In 2010, the City certified a Revised EIR (REIR). Petitioner filed a new petition for a writ of mandate … Continue Reading

Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary v. Golden State Water Co. (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 658

Water companies and city brought an action to determine groundwater rights and to amend a 1961 judgment imposing a physical solution on the Water Coast Groundwater Basin. The trial court ruled that an EIR was required before it could consider the amendment. On appeal to the Second District Court of Appeal, the Court reversed the … Continue Reading

South Orange County Wastewater Authority v. City of Dana Point (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1604

The City of Dana Point (City) approved a mixed-use development project next to a sewage treatment plant. The City conducted an initial study and prepared a mitigated negative declaration (MND) after finding that all potential environmental impacts of the project could be mitigated to a less than significant level. The Wastewater Authority (Petitioner) challenged the … Continue Reading

Court Defers to Local Agency Characterization of Lot Line Adjustments as Ministerial Actions Not Subject to CEQA

In Sierra Club v. Napa County Board of Supervisors (2012) 2012 Cal.App. LEXIS 454, the Sierra Club challenged a lot line adjustment ordinance adopted by Napa County, which allowed lot line adjustments under the Subdivision Map Act on parcels that had previously been adjusted, as long as the prior lot line adjustment has been completed … Continue Reading