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CASE UPDATE: CEQA Did Not Require Supplemental EIR For New Amendments To San Jose International Airport Master Plan.

In Citizens Against Airport Pollution v. City of San Jose, (6th Dist. 2014) 173 Cal.Rptr.3d 794, the court affirmed the City of San Jose’s approval of the eighth addendum to the San Jose International Airport Master Plan EIR, adopted in 2007 (“Master Plan”), which was prepared Master Plan amendments that the City adopted in 2010. The amendments included changes to the size and location of cargo facilities, the replacement of air cargo with general aviation facilities, and the modification of two taxiways. The petitioners first argued that a new EIR was required because these changes constituted a new project, but the court rejected this argument.

The petitioners also argued that the City was required to prepare a supplemental EIR (which requires circulation to the public, adding significant cost and delay), as opposed to an addendum (which need not be circulated for comment). They alleged that the Master Plan amendments would have new, significant impacts and/or constituted “new information”, which was not addressed in the prior EIRs, with regard to noise impacts, air quality impacts and impacts on burrowing owl habitat.

The court rejected these arguments, applying the rule that a subsequent EIR must only be prepared when an amended project will have a significant impact not previously disclosed or will substantially increase the severity of the impacts that were previously disclosed.

Finally, petitioners argued that the EIR addendum violated CEQA because it failed to include a good faith effort, based on actual data, to describe, calculate, or estimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the project. This legal requirement became effective in March, 2010. (CEQA Guidelines § 15064.4.)

The court held that because this requirement was not in effect at the time the 1997 EIR and the 2003 Supplemental EIR were certified, it did not apply to the subject addendum and, in addition, that the relevant greenhouse gas information did not constitute “new information.”

©2014 Miles J. Dolinger. This article is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice or a solicitation for the formation of an attorney-client relationship.

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