In East Sacramento Partnership for a Livable City v. City of Sacramento, (2016) 5 Cal.App.5th 281, petitioners challenged the City of East Sacramento’s certification of an EIR for a 336–unit residential development with a community recreation center and three parks on a 48.75–acre site. The Court of Appeal held that: the EIR adequately disclosed development agreement; the project description was not defective; the EIR did not engage in improper piecemealing; BUT, the EIR provided an inadequate explanation for its conclusion that traffic impacts were not significant.
NEW CEQA CASE: Court Upholds Environmental Review For New Golden State Warriors Arena Complex In S.F.
In Mission Bay Alliance v. Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 160, the court upheld the environmental review conducted for the new basketball arena for the Golden State Warriors (and related development), in what is known as the Mission Bay South Redevelopment Plan Area in San Francisco. (See http://www.chasecenter.com/.)
Committee for Re-Evaluation of the T-Line Loop v. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 1237, involved a CEQA challenge to the San Francisco MUNI’s approval of a project to construct a new streetcar loop in the southeastern part of the City. MUNI determined that the loop project was part of a larger light rail extension project to provide service to that part of the City. MUNI determined that no new environmental review was required because the earlier project was approved in 1998 in conjunction with a full environmental impact report, and that this project did not involve any new information, project changes or additional impacts that were not previously addressed (pursuant to Public Resources Code section 21166). Following the Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens case (discussed above), the court applied the deferential substantial evidence standard and affirmed MUNI’s decision.
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In Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens v. San Mateo Community College District, (2016) 1 Cal.5th 937, the California Supreme Court resolved some issues about using the environmental review that was conducted for a previous project for a new or significantly changed project. Essentially, the Court held that an an approving agency can rely on an old EIR as the environmental review for a new project as long as the old EIR retains some informational value to the analysis of the new project.
Railroad Trestle/Historical Resource. In Friends of the Willow Glen Trestle v. City of San Jose, (6th Dist. 2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 457, petitioners challenged the City of San Jose’s decision to not to prepare a full environmental impact report (EIR) for a project to replace an old wooden trestle with a new steel bridge. The trestle is a wooden railroad bridge that was built in 1922 as part of a “spur line” to provide “rail freight access” to “canning districts” near downtown San Jose. The trial court struck down the City’s approval of the project, holding that petitioners had demonstrated that there was a “fair argument” that the project would have significant environmental impacts (thereby requiring an EIR), because there was a fair argument that the bridge was a historical resource. However, the appellate court reversed, holding that the more deferential “substantial evidence” standard of judicial review applied to the City’s determination that the bridge was not a historical resource.
CASE UPDATE: A City’s General Plan Amendment Eliminating Minimum Residential Density Requirements Is Not Exempt From CEQA.
In People for Proper Planning v. City of Palm Springs (2016), 2016 WL 3005719, an affordable housing advocacy group filed a lawsuit challenging City of Palm Springs’s adoption of a general plan amendment (GPA) removing minimum density requirements for each residential development. The trial court ruled that the GPA was exempt from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), but the court of appeal reversed on this issue.
CASE UPDATE: EIR For Redevelopment Of Treasure Island Complied With CEQA As A Planning-Level EIR Even Though It Was Called A “Project EIR”.
In Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island v. City of County of San Francisco, (1st Dist. 2014) 2014 WL 3057986, the court affirmed the City and County of San Francisco’s approval of a new, 20-year master plan for the total redevelopment of Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island. Petitioner’s main argument on appeal was that the City prejudicially abused its discretion by preparing a project EIR instead of aprogram EIR; the subject EIR characterized itself as a “project EIR” that analyzed all phases of the Project at maximum build out.
In Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court, (2014) 59 Cal.4th 1029, the California Supreme Court held that CEQA review is not required when a local government entity adopts a voter submitted land use initiative directly (and without the need for a public vote), just as CEQA review is not required before voters adopt an initiative at an election.
In Rominger v. County of Colusa, (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 690, the court held that the approval of a tentative subdivision map was subject to CEQA review categorically – even if a specific development project was yet to be planned. The court further held that CEQA procedural errors (in this case, failure to post public notice of the County’s intent to adopt a mitigated negative declaration (MND) for the full 30 days) constituted abuse of discretions, but such errors are not grounds for reversal unless they are shown to be prejudicial. The court held that the 27-day notice period in this case was not prejudicial. Also, the court rejected arguments that an EIR (as opposed to an MND) was required to address potential agricultural, odor, noise, air quality, greenhouse gas and water supply impacts, but the court agreed that an EIR was required to address potential traffic issues.
In Sierra Club v. County of San Diego, (2014) WL 6657169, the court held that the County violated CEQA by failing to implement measures to mitigate greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions that would occur as a result of the County’s 2011 General Plan Update.
The County adopted its General Plan Update based on a Program Environmental Impact Report (“PEIR”). The PEIR included Mitigation Measure CC-1.2, under which the County committed to preparing a climate action plan (“CAP”) with “more detailed greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets and deadlines” and “comprehensive and enforceable GHG emissions reduction measures that will achieve” specified quantities of GHG reductions by the year 2020. However, the court held that the CAP that the County later adopted did not meet the requirements of Mitigation Measure CC-1.2. It found that the County admitted that the CAP would not ensure the required reductions, that many of the emissions reduction measures were unfunded, that the County was not making meaningful efforts to implement or fund transit-related measures, and that the CAP had no deadlines.
CASE UPDATE: Court Affirms Reduced Attorneys’ Fees Award in CEQA Case Involving MND For Community Center..
In Save Our Uniquely Rural Community Environment v. County San Bernardino, (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 1179, the trial court granted an environmental group’s petition for a writ of mandate concerning a proposed community center and mosque, for which the county planning board had adopted a mitigated negative declaration (MND) and issued a conditional use permit (CUP), and the court ordered the MND and CUP be set aside solely for purposes of obtaining further CEQA review on the single issue of waste water treatment.