Category Archives: California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

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Preexisting Management Plan Not a “Mitigation Measure” for Purposes of CEQA Exemption

A preexisting management plan intended to minimize environmental effects of recurring facility operations and events is not a “proposed mitigation measure” for purposes of determining whether an event qualifies for a CEQA categorical exemption, a state Court of Appeal has held.  In Citizens for Environmental Responsibility v. California, the Court of Appeal upheld the exemption … Continue Reading

CEQA Requires Separate Evaluation Of Mitigation Measures And Alternatives Even Where Mitigation Measures Are Incorporated Into Project Design

In Trisha Lee Lotus et al. v Department of Transportation et al. (1st Dist., Div. 4, 1/30/14 A137315) ___ Cal.App.___ ____, 2014, the court of appeal upheld a claim by the appellants that Caltrans failed to comply with CEQA because its EIR did not consider potential mitigation measures aimed at lessening the impact of the … Continue Reading

New “Potentially Feasible” Alternative Does Not Trigger Draft EIR Recirculation Unless Considered “Significant New Information”; No Findings Needed to Reject Alternative As Infeasible

In South County Citizens for Smart Growth v. County of Nevada (3d Dist., 10/8/13 C067764) ____Cal.App.4th _____, 2013, the court of appeal rejected a claim that Nevada County violated CEQA by failing to recirculate an EIR when a project was modified after circulation of the draft EIR and a similar but competing alternative proposed by staff … Continue Reading

Substantial Evidence Test Applies to Decision Not to Require Additional EIR

In Latinos Unidos de Napa v. City of Napa (1st Dist., Div. 1, 10/10/13, A134959), ___ Cal.App.4th ___, 2013, the court of appeal found no abuse of discretion in the City of Napa’s approval of revisions to the housing element of its general plan, and related general plan and zoning amendments, despite plaintiff’s argument that … Continue Reading

Adopting Thresholds of Significance Under CEQA Not Subject to CEQA Review

[Petition for review granted by the Supreme Court.  The court limited review to the following issue: Under what circumstances, if any, does the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.) require an analysis of how existing environmental conditions will impact future residents or users (receptors) of a proposed project? ] In … Continue Reading

Unusual Circumstances: California Supreme Court Upholds Limited Use of Future Conditions Baseline Under CEQA

Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, et al. (August 5, 2013, S202828) ____ Cal.4th ____ On August 5, 2013, the California Supreme Court issued a split decision in Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, et al. The court held that a lead agency may choose to avoid … Continue Reading

Failure To Separately Notice Consideration Of CEQA Document Violates Brown Act

San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center v. County of Merced, No. F064930 (5th Dist., May 31, 2013) By Eric DiIulio In San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center v. County of Merced, the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth District held that the Merced County Planning Commission violated the Brown Act by adopting a CEQA mitigated negative … Continue Reading

Bright Lights Not a Significant Impact; Lack of Parking May Be

Taxpayers for Accountable School Bond Spending v. San Diego Unified School District, No. D060999 (4th Dist. Div. 1, April 25, 2013)  By Claudia Gutierrez  In Taxpayers for Accountable School Bond Spending v. San Diego Unified School District (2013) __ Cal.App.4th __ (Case No. D060999) the Court of Appeal for the 4th District held that the San … Continue Reading

EIR Not Needed Before Starting Eminent Domain Proceeding

By Claudia Gutierrez In Golden Gate Land Holdings, LLC v. East Bay Regional Park District, the California Court of Appeals considered whether an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) must be prepared where the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and eminent domain law intersect. Golden Gate Land Holdings, LLC, the owner of the property in question, argued that … Continue Reading

No Relief Under CCP Section 473 For Missed Filing Deadline In CEQA Challenge

By Daniel Bane  Alliance for the Protection of the Auburn Community Environment, et al. v. County of Placer, SCV0028200 (3rd Dist., February 18, 2013) In Alliance for the Protection of the Auburn Community Environment v. County of Placer, the California Court of Appeal for the Third District considered plaintiff and appellant Alliance for the Protection … Continue Reading

Zoning Director Approval Triggers Section 65009 Statute of Limitations

Stockton Citizens for Sensible Planning v. City of Stockton, Super. Ct. No. CV024375 (Nov. 13, 2012) By James Rusk A letter of approval finding a project consistent with a City’s Master Development Plan triggers the running of the 90-day statute of limitations under Government Code subsection 65009(c)(1)(E), the Third District Court of Appeal has held. … Continue Reading

City May Adopt Housing Element Revisions Inconsistent With General Plan If City Also Adopts Timeline To Correct Inconsistencies

Friends of Aviara v. City of Carlsbad (November 1, 2012, Case No. D060167) Recently, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Friends of Aviara v. City of Carlsbad affirmed the trial court’s judgment directing the City of Carlsbad to adopt a timeline for proposed changes to its general plan that would correct inconsistencies created by … Continue Reading

Further Confirmation Notice of Exemption Filed Before Project Approval is Void

Coalition for Clean Air v. City of Visalia (Oct. 4, 2012, No. F062983M) By James Pugh The partially published opinion in Coalition for Clean Air v. City of Visalia brightened the line regarding when a California Environmental Quality Act Notice of Exemption (NOE) is valid. In a nutshell, the Fifth District Court of Appeal concluded … Continue Reading

The Amorphous “Unusual Circumstances” Exception to CEQA’s Categorical Exemption Strikes Again

Voices for Rural Living v. El Dorado Irrigation District, Super. Ct. No. PC20080398, (Oct. 4, 2012)  By James Pugh The recent Voices for Rural Living v. El Dorado Irrigation District case from the California Court of Appeal’s Third District applied the “unusual circumstances” exception to overturn a categorical exemption used to approve a water supply … Continue Reading

Appeals Court Reaffirms That Non-Prejudicial Planning And Zoning Code And CEQA Errors Cannot Serve As Basis For Overturning City Approval

Rialto Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Rialto ___ Cal.App. ___ (July 31, 2012, No. E052253) By Phillip Tate On July 31, 2012, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District held that the trial court erred in invalidating the City of Rialto’s (the “City”) approval of a 230,000 square foot commercial retail … Continue Reading

Impacts On Required Public Services Not An Environmental Impact; No Mitigation Required

City of Hayward et al. v. Board of Trustees of the California State University, A131412, A132424 (Cal. Ct. App., May 30, 2012) (certified for publication June 28, 2012). By Deborah Rosenthal and Nady Nikonova The Court of Appeal held that potential adverse impacts on required public services are not environmental impacts under CEQA requiring mitigation by … Continue Reading

Parties Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies Before Challenging Even A CEQA Exemption

Tomlinson v. County of Alameda et al., S188161 (Supreme Court, June 14, 2012) By Jeffrey Forrest and Whitney Hodges The California Supreme Court recently reinforced the CEQA requirement that a party must exhaust administrative remedies even where the public agency finds a project exempt from CEQA, if the agency (a) gave notice of the grounds for its exemption … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Grants Hearing in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley

Vacated opinion at:; (modified on rehearing, no change in judgment) According to the Court, the case presents the following issue: Did the City of Berkeley properly conclude that a proposed project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code §§ 21000 et seq.) under the categorical exemptions set forth in … Continue Reading

Use of Projected Future Conditions Appropriate Baseline for Analyzing Impacts of Long-Term Infrastructure Projects

Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, et al., B232655 (2nd Dist. Div. 8, April 17, 2012) By Daniel Bane In Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, et al. (“Neighbors for Smart Rail”), the California Court of Appeal for the Second District considered plaintiff and appellant Neighbors for … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Denies Review of Case Holding that CEQA Does Not Require Analysis of Effects on a Project Caused by the Environment

By Michael Hansen The California Supreme Court unanimously declined to hear a challenge to the revised environmental impact report for the Playa Vista development in Los Angeles in Ballona Wetlands Land Trust v. City of Los Angeles, resulting in a published decision in the Second District Court of Appeal holding that CEQA does not require … Continue Reading

Tiered EIR Must Be Prepared Where Program EIR Provides Insufficient Guidance on Discretionary Choices

Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation et al. v. County of El Dorado, C064875 (Super. Ct. No. PC20080336) (Cal. Ct. App. 3rd Dist., January 20, 2012) By Katharine J. Mueller Plaintiffs and Appellants, led by the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation (Sierra Nevada), challenged the County of El Dorado’s adoption of an oak woodland management plan … Continue Reading

Builders Charge New CEQA-Streamlining Laws, Guidelines Unhelpful

The building industry contends a 2011 law aiming to jump-start the economy by streamlining the state’s environmental review process for development projects is failing to attract much interest because strict eligibility criteria prevents most projects from qualifying. Most housing, transportation and land-use project proponents say their projects are unable to qualify for the streamlining due … Continue Reading

OPR Releases Proposed Guidelines for Streamlining CEQA Review of Infill Projects

By Alex Merritt Last week, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research released proposed guidelines for streamlining CEQA review of infill projects. The proposed guidelines will implement SB 226 (Simitian)—one of several bills passed in the 2011 legislative session that streamline the CEQA process for certain green projects. The proposed guidelines contain eligibility requirements that … Continue Reading

Neither CEQA nor the Public Trust Requires Exclusion of Current Conditions in Determining Baseline for Purposes of Lease Renewal on Tide and Submerged Lands

Citizens for East Shore Parks, et al. v. California State Lands Commission (Chevron U.S.A, et al., real party in interest), No. A129896 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist., December 30, 2011, modified on denial of rehearing No. A129896M, Jan. 27, 2012.). By Michael Gibson The proper baseline for analyzing potential environmental impacts under the California Environmental … Continue Reading

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