horse in stable windowIs the “character” of a community part of the “environment” and therefore subject to analysis under CEQA, or is it instead a subjective state of mind of the people who live there?  An appellate court has now weighed in.

In its decision in Preserve Poway v. City of Poway (March 9, 2016), the Fourth District Court of Appeal has upheld the use of a mitigated negative declaration (MND) for a project to subdivide a property currently occupied by an equestrian boarding and training facility.  In doing so, the Court held that evidence of the project’s social and psychological impacts to the community does not require preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR), as CEQA does not address such impacts.

The property, located in the City of Poway (which calls itself the “City in the Country”), is currently being used as a boarding facility for approximately 100 horses, and it is located across the street from a 12-acre rodeo and polo grounds operated by the Poway Valley Riders Association (PVRA). The project involves the subdivision of the property into twelve residential lots, grading of the property, extension of an existing sewer line, undergrounding of existing utilities, installation of new curb, gutters, and fire hydrants, and flood channel improvements.  No home construction is included in the project – any such construction would be subject to further environmental review and City approval.