Tag: environmental

Ninth Circuit Ruled in Favor of Tribe, Finding that the US Forest Service Violated the ESA by Giving Permission to Mine in a National Forest

In Karuk Tribe of California v. United States Forest Service, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 11145, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Forest Service (Service) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to consult with the appropriate wildlife agencies before approving four notices of intent (NOI). The NOIs gave miners permission to … Continue Reading

Governor Brown Seeks to Insulate California High Speed Rail From CEQA Challenges

Governor Brown’s office has proposed new legislation that would modify the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to limit the circumstances under which a court could issue an injunction or other stop work order on the California High Speed Rail (HSR) project pending the outcome of CEQA litigation.  The proposed legislation aims to protect the HSR … Continue Reading

Court Denies Attorney’s Fees Where Successful Petitioner Does Not Confer a Significant Benefit to Public and Discharges Writ of Mandate After Compliance

In an unpublished opinion, California Oak Foundation v. County of Tehama (2012) 2012 Cal. App. Unpub. Lexis 3970, the California Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a decision denying petitioner’s request for attorney’s fees on the basis that their successful challenge to a golf course community project, which Tehama County approved in 2006, did not … Continue Reading

Federal District Court Stays Litigation over Endangered Frog and Snake to Permit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Consultation to Conclude

In Wild Equity Institute v. City and County of San Francisco, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58620, Plaintiffs, a collection of non-profit conservation groups, sued the City of San Francisco (City) for violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), claiming City’s actions as the owner and operator of the Sharp Park Golf Course (SPGC) have caused … Continue Reading

Substantial Evidence Test Applies to Subsequent Environmental Review After a Negative Declaration Has Been Adopted for a Project

In Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District (2012) 2012 Cal.App. LEXIS 496, the court considered whether the substantial evidence, rather than the “fair argument,” test applies to determine whether further environmental review is warranted for a subsequent approval where the agency has initially adopted a negative declaration for the project. In 2006, the irrigation district adopted … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

Tolling Agreements to Extend CEQA’s Statute of Limitations during Settlement Discussions are Valid

In Salmon Protection and Watershed Network v. County of Marin (2102) 2012 Cal.App. LEXIS 458, the court considered whether a public agency and a party disputing the adequacy of an EIR could enter into an agreement to toll the statute of limitations setting the time period for filing a CEQA lawsuit to challenge the EIR. … Continue Reading

Constitutionality of AB 900 CEQA Streamlining Challenged in Court

On April 23, 2012, the Planning and Conservation League (PCL) filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Assembly Bill No. 900 (2011-2012 Reg. Sess.) (see Conservation League v. State of California, RG12626904 (Alameda Sup. Ct.) available at http://www.cnsenvironmentallaw.com/2012/04/26/Conservation.pdf.) AB 900 requires CEQA litigation challenging eligible projects to skip over the superior court and be heard … Continue Reading

Court holds the Integrated Waste Management Act Does Not Vest a County with Any Authority Over Issuance of a Solid Waste Facilities Permit and, Therefore, the County is Not the Decisionmaking Body for the Purposes of CEQA

In No Wetlands Landfill Expansion v. County of Marin (2012) 2012 Cal.App.LEXIS 330, the First Appellate District reversed the trial court’s determination that CEQA required the Marin County Board of Supervisors to hear an administrative appeal from the Marin County Environmental Health Services’s (Marin EHS) approval of a solid waste facilities permit for the expansion … Continue Reading

Third Appellate District Grants Partial Publication of CEQA Decision Relating to Agricultural Mitigation, Urban Decay, Res Judicata, and the Deliberative Process Privilege

In Citizens for Open Government v. City of Lodi (2012) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Opinion), the Court rejected Citizens for Open Government’s and Lodi First’s (Petitioners) challenges to the reapproval by defendant City of Lodi (City) of a conditional use permit for a proposed shopping center to be anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter (Project) after the … Continue Reading

Court Disagrees with Sunnyvale and Madera Decisions and Holds that use of Projected Future Conditions as a Baseline for Analyzing Environmental Impacts is Proper where Supported by Substantial Evidence

In Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (2012 Cal.App. LEXIS 434), the Second Appellate District upheld the lead agency’s determination that a future 2030 baseline was proper for determining the significance of traffic and air quality impacts caused by a proposed light rail project in Los Angeles. The EIR at issue … Continue Reading

The Sacketts will have their day in Court to Challenge an EPA Compliance Order

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the lower courts’ ruling and held that Michael and Chantell Sackett, Petitioners, may bring a civil action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) issuance of an administrative compliance order for alleged violation of Section 309 of the Clean Water … Continue Reading

Court Orders Partial Publication of Consol. Irrigation Dist. v. City of Selma (2012) __ Cal.App.4th __

On March 9, 2012, the Fifth Appellate District ordered a portion of its decision in Consol. Irrigation Dist. v. City of Selma (2012) __ Cal.App.4th __ (2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 277) published. Specifically, the Court ordered all but Sections I.A., III., IV.C., IV.D., V., and VI. of DISCUSSION published. The portions of the opinion ordered … Continue Reading

City Appeal of Trial Court Order Found Moot where City had Complied with the Order

In Building a Better Redondo v. City of Redondo Beach (February 22, 2012) __ Cal.App.4th __ (Case No. 124769), a group of slow-growth advocates brought a petition for writ of mandate and declaratory relief against the City of Redondo Beach, seeking an order compelling the city to submit a local coastal program amendment to public … Continue Reading

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Retains Discretion to Select the Appropriate Baseline for Environmental Review of its Shorezone Amendments

TRPA adopted amendments to the shorezone regulations in 2008, setting development caps on the number of new buoys and piers allowed in Lake Tahoe, and certified an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the amendments. The League to Save Lake Tahoe and Sierra Club (Plaintiffs) challenged filed a lawsuit, alleging that the EIS failed to explain … Continue Reading

Court Awards Agency’s Costs of Preparing Administrative Record Despite Petitioner Electing to Prepare the Record

In an unpublished decision, Landwatch San Luis Obispo v. Cambria Community Serv. Dist., 2d Civil No. B229545 (2012), the Court upheld a trial court’s cost award of $14,615.41 to the Cambria Community Service District for time spent preparing the administrative record.  The District initially sought almost $24,000.  In reaching the amount awarded, the trial court … Continue Reading

Court Holds Res Judicata Bars NEPA and ESA Challenges to Guidelines Adopted by State Department

In Turtle Island Restoration Network v. U.S. Dept. of States (9th Cir. 2012) 2012 U.S.LEXIS 3263, the Ninth Circuit Court determined that res judicata barred Turtle Island Restoration Network (“TIRN”) from bringing a challenge under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) because an organization for which TIRN was formally a … Continue Reading

Applying the Fair Argument Test, Court holds that Construction of a Large Single-Family Home was Not Exempt from CEQA Because the Unusual Circumstances Exception Applied

In Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (2012) 203 Cal. App. 4th 656, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustment Board (Board) determined that a new roughly 10,000 square foot home in the Berkeley hills was categorically exempt from CEQA pursuant to (1) the Infill Development Exemption and (2) the New Construction / Conversion of a Small … Continue Reading

Court Upholds EIR for a Wind Energy Project Despite the Conceptual Nature of the Project Description

In an unpublished decision, Bedford v. Santa Barbara County, 2012 Cal.App.Unpub.LEXIS 886, the Second Appellate District upheld a trial court’s ruling denying a petition challenging the adequacy of an environmental impact report for a wind farm project in Santa Barbara County. First, the Court upheld the trial court’s determination that the Petitioners failed to exhaust … Continue Reading

Court Applies Strict Interpretation of the Exhaustion Doctrine to Deny Challenges to a Mitigated Negative Declaration for a Small Housing Complex

In an unpublished decision, Kentfield-Union Neighborhood Ass’n v. Redwood City Council, 2012 Cal.App.Unpub.LEXIS 736, the First Appellate District upheld the trial court’s ruling that the Redwood City Council complied with CEQA in preparing an initial study and adopting a mitigated negative declaration for a 21-unit housing complex in Redwood City (Project). In reaching its holding, … Continue Reading

Northern District Awards Attorney’s Fees at Enhanced Rate above EAJA Cap in a Case Against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management

In Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10555, January 30, 2012), the Court granted Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees in the amount of $1,003,155.87, despite Defendants claim that the fees were excessive.  Among other things, Defendants argued that the case was overstaffed,  travel time should … Continue Reading

Draft CEQA Guidelines Intended to Promote Infill Development May Prove to be too Cumbersome to Provide Real Benefits

On January 25, 2012, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released draft CEQA Guidelines to implement Senate Bill (SB) 226. Signed by the Governor last October, SB 226 promotes infill development by: (1) providing flexibility in project design by basing eligibility largely on environmental performance rather than prescribed project characteristics; and (2) avoiding … Continue Reading

Court Rejects Use of an MND for a Residential Development Relying on Groundwater Holding that Existing Groundwater Overdraft Establishes the Project will Potentially Result in a Cumulatively Considerable Groundwater Impact

In an unpublished decision, the Consolidated Irrigation District filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging the City of Selma’s use of a mitigated negative declaration in approving a 160-unit, 44-acre residential development (Consolidated Irrig. Dist. v. City of Selma, Fifth Appellate District Case No. F061103 (Feb. 8, 2012 – unpublished)).  The trial court granted … Continue Reading
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