Category Archives: California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

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California Court Issues Tentative Ruling Enjoining AB 32 Implementation

By Whitney Hodges On January 21, a San Francisco Superior Court issued a proposed decision that could significantly delay the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (“AB 32”). In Association of Irritated Residents, et al. v. California Air Resources Board, Case No. CPF-09-509562, the Court held that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) failed … Continue Reading

Court Invalidates EIR’s Use of a Baseline Predicated On Future, Post-Approval Conditions For Analysis of Project’s Impacts

Sunnyvale West Neighborhood Assn. v. City of Sunnyvale City Council, No. H035135 (6th Dist., December 16, 2010) In Sunnyvale West Neighborhood Assn. v. City of Sunnyvale City Council (“Sunnyvale”), the California Court of Appeal, Sixth District (the “Court”) invalidated the use of a baseline consisting of future, post-project approval conditions to analyze a project’s impacts … Continue Reading

Baseline Using Existing Entitlements Acceptable If It Corresponds To Conditions “On The Ground”

Cherry Valley Pass Acres and Neighbors, et al. v. City of Beaumont, E049651 (4th Dist. Div. 2, November 22, 2010) By Daniel Bane In Cherry Valley Pass Acres and Neighbors, et al. v. City of Beaumont, the Court of Appeal considered Plaintiffs Cherry Valley Pass Acres and Neighbors and Cherry Valley Environmental Planning Group (“Plaintiffs”) … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Upholds Previous Decision, Finding That the Requirements for Exhausting Administrative Remedies Before Challenging CEQA Exemption Did Not Apply

Tomlinson v. County of Alameda, No. A125471 (1st Dist. Div. 5, October 6, 2010) By Misty L. Calder In Tomlinson v. County of Alameda, the First Appellate District reexamined its decision in Tomlinson v. County of Alameda (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 1029, where the Court found that the County of Alameda ("County") abused its discretion in … Continue Reading

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Two Bills Providing Moderate CEQA Improvements

By Misty L. Calder Senate Bill ("SB") 1456, authored by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), and Assembly Bill ("AB") 231, authored by Assembly Member Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills), were signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 29, 2010. As urgency statutes, both bills became effective immediately, and both will sunset as of January 1, … Continue Reading

Coastal Commission’s No Substantial Issue Determination Will Be Upheld Even If Project Technically Not Consistent With LCP

Hines v. California Coastal Commission, No. A125254 (1st Dist. June 17, 2010) By Michael Wilmar and Alex Merritt In Hines v. California Coastal Commission, the First District Court of Appeal upheld the Coastal Commission’s determination that an appeal raised no substantial issue under the California Coastal Act, and went so far as to state in … Continue Reading

County Approval of Conditional Siting Agreement Not A Project Approval Under CEQA

City of Santee v. County of San Diego, No. D055310 (4th Dist. June 7, 2010) By Michael Wilmar and Alex Merritt Last month the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District provided important guidance on the issue of when approval of an agreement affecting a development constitutes approval of a “project” that requires review … Continue Reading

Notice Of Exemption Triggers A 35-Day Statute Of Limitations Under CEQA Despite Flaws in Underlying Approval

Stockton Citizens for Sensible Planning v. City of Stockton _____ Cal. ___ (April 1, 2010, No. S159690) By Phillip Tate On April 1, 2010, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that flaws in the decision making process underlying a facially valid and properly filed Notice of Exemption ("NOE") do not prevent the NOE from triggering … Continue Reading

Supercenters Do Not Automatically Trigger Requirement To Study Urban Decay Effects In An EIR

Patricia Melom v. City of Madera, __ Cal. App. __ (March, 24, 2010, No. MCV037258) By Phillip Tate Retail "supercenters" do not automatically trigger the need to study urban decay effects in an environmental impact report ("EIR"). Rather, the project or the change in the project should be the focus of the inquiry as to … Continue Reading

Vested Rights Under Prior Permits Do Not Establish CEQA Baseline

By Claudia Gutierrez Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast Air Quality Management District et al. ___Cal.__) (March 15, 2010; Case No. S161190) In this case, the Supreme Court of California held that neither the statute of limitations, the principles of vested rights, nor the CEQA case law on which ConocoPhillips relied, justified employing … Continue Reading

Fish and Game Commission Seeks Comments Related to Proposed California Tiger Salamander Rulemaking

By Robert Uram and Keith Garner The Fish and Game Commission has published a notice of proposed regulatory action and invited interested parties to provide oral or written comments relevant to the proposed action prior to or at its May 5 hearing. The proposed regulation would add the California tiger salamander ("CTS") to the list … Continue Reading

California’s High Court Clarifies CEQA’s 30-Day Statute of Limitations

Committee for Green Foothills v. Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, __ Cal.4th __ (February 2, 2010, No. S163680)("Green Foothills") By Robyn Christo On February 11, 2010, the California Supreme Court unanimously decided that a lead agency’s filing of a Notice of Determination ("NOD") sets off the 30-day statute of limitations (found in Public Resources … Continue Reading

A Brief Overview of the Recent Amendments to CEQA Guidelines

By Brenna Moorhead On December 29, 2009, the California Natural Resources Agency ("Resources Agency") adopted amendments to the guidelines implementing the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA").  The amendments were filed with the Secretary of State on February 16, 2010 and will assist lead agencies in complying with CEQA’s existing requirements when analyzing and mitigating the … Continue Reading

A State At Risk Attempts to Adapt to Climate Change

By Brenna Moorhead The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) led twelve state agencies in preparing the Draft California Climate Adaptation Strategy. The Strategy responds to the mandates of Executive Order S-13-08, which called for development of an adaptation strategy for addressing climate change. Consistent with the Order, the Strategy summarizes the best known science on … Continue Reading


Lin v. City of Pleasanton., ___ Cal. App. 4th ____, No. A121147 (1st App. Dist. 2009) by James Rusk A referendum petition challenging the approval of a development plan need not include the text of the plan itself, if the plan was neither attached to the ordinance approving the plan nor explicitly incorporated by reference, … Continue Reading

New Law Automatically Extends Existing Tentative Maps For Two Years, But Also Creates New Pitfalls, And Reduces Some Protections For Recorded Maps

By David P. Lanferman & Jeffrey W. Forrest On July 15, 2009, the Governor signed new "urgency" legislation to automatically extend the life of existing tentative subdivision maps, vesting tentative maps ("VTMs") and parcel maps for two additional years — provided that they were still valid and in effect on July 15, and would otherwise expire … Continue Reading

Checklist Approval Of Design Plan Conforming To Guidelines Established Under Specific Plan Constitutes A Ministerial Act Under CEQA

Health First v. March Joint Powers Authority (Tesco Stores West, Inc.), ___ Cal. App. 4th ___ (June 10, 2009, No. RIC458367) By Katharine E. Allen The California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District determined that the act of reviewing and approving a design permit application for a warehouse facility by the March Joint … Continue Reading

County Outside Counsel Work Product Not Part of CEQA Record Even If Disclosed To Real Party In Interest

California Oak Foundation v. County of Tehama et al. (Del Webb California Corp. et al.), ____ Cal. App. 4th ____ (June 11, 2009, No. CI58258) By Katharine E. Allen Four letters sent to the County of Tehama and the Tehama County Board of Supervisors (collectively “Tehama”) and disclosed to real parties in interest by a … Continue Reading

City Not Required To Identify Specific Location For Off-Site Mitigation Under CEQA Because Standards Sufficient

California Native Plant Society v. City of Rancho Cordova, ____ Cal. App. 4th _____ (March 24, 2009, No. C057018) By Elizabeth S. Anderson The California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District determined that the City of Rancho Cordova did not improperly defer mitigation under the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") when it adopted … Continue Reading

Agreements Conditioned On Subsequent CEQA Review Violate CEQA If Record Shows Agency Already Committed To Project

Save Tara v City of West Hollywood, ___ Cal. 4th ___ (Oct. 30, 2008, Case No. S151402)   By David Collins   In this case, the California Supreme Court invalidated agreements by the City of West Hollywood (“City”) for a housing project that was conditioned on future environmental review.  The court avoided establishing a bright-line … Continue Reading

SB 375: California Adopts New Law Geared to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Integrating Regional Transportation and Land Use Planning

By Rafael F. Muilenburg, James E. Pugh, and Michael Hansen On September 30, 2008, the rules governing regional planning changed dramatically when Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill No. 375 ("SB 375") into law. SB 375, in its essence, attempts to control greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions by curbing urban sprawl through the implementation of "sustainable community … Continue Reading

Fish and Game Commission Must Accept Petition to List the CTS under California Endangered Species Act

Center for Biological Diversity v. Cal. Fish & Game Comm’n, __ Cal.App. 4th __ (Sept. 2, 2008, Case No. C055059) By Robert Uram and Keith Garner On September 2, 2008, the Third District of the California Court of Appeal decided that the California Fish and Game Commission (“Commission”) erred by rejecting at the threshold a petition to … Continue Reading

Loss of Power? AQMD rules Designed to Spur Development of Newer, Cleaner Electrical Power Plants Recently Vacated in LA Superior Court

By Olivier Theard Summary Two new rules promulgated by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) that were designed to encourage development of newer, cleaner electric power plants by replacing older, more-polluting ones were recently vacated in a case pending in the Superior Court in Los Angeles.  The court decided that, in implementing the … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Holds Headwaters Agreement Incidental Take Permit And Sustained Yield Plan Invalid

Environmental Protection and Information Center v. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (July 17, 2008, S140547) __ Cal.4 ___. By James Rusk The state Incidental Take Permit (the “ITP”) and the Sustained Yield Plan (the “SYP”) approved under the Headwaters Agreement of 1996, which allowed the Pacific Lumber Company (“PLC”) to log old growth … Continue Reading

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