On March 30, 2017, in the first of at least three CEQA rulings expected this year, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Banning Ranch Conservancy v. City of Newport Beach. In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Carol Corrigan, the Court invalidated an EIR for the coastal development at Banning Ranch approved by the City of Newport Beach. Despite the fact that the EIR addressed in detail the project’s physical impacts on wetlands and sensitive habitats, the Court nevertheless held that it failed to adequately disclose and consider the controversy surrounding the potential presence of Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (“ESHA”) under the Coastal Act. This decision falls within a growing line of cases mandating inclusion of non-CEQA regulatory requirements within the confines of the CEQA environmental review process, and in a manner that places ever greater burdens on lead agencies and EIR preparers.
Another Busy Year for CEQA in the California Supreme Court: Arguments Set for May 4 in San Mateo Gardens Case; Four Other Cases Pending
2015 was a banner year for CEQA rulings by the California Supreme Court, with four decisions handed down, each of which addressed key issues in the application of the statute and its governing regulations: Berkeley Hillside clarified the application of the “unusual circumstances” exception to categorical exemptions; City of San Diego addressed the feasibility of offsite mitigation; Center for Biological Diversity set new parameters for analysis of greenhouse gas emissions; and CBIA confirmed that CEQA does not address the environment’s impact on a project.
Where a Local Government Does Not Endorse Amendments to its Certified Local Coastal Program, the Coastal Commission’s Authority to Adopt such Amendments is Very Narrow
In City of Malibu v. California Coastal Commission (2012) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, considered whether California Public Resources Code section 30515, known as the override provision of the Coastal Act, allows a public works agency to apply to the Coastal Commission to override policies and standards in a locality’s…