Category: CEQA

Subscribe to CEQA RSS Feed

Treasure Island Update: San Francisco EIR Specific Enough

In Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island v. City & County of San Francisco, No. A137828 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist., July 7, 2014), the First Appellate District upheld an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for the renovation of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.  Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island (“CSTI”) argued that the City … Continue Reading

Ground Control to Major Tom: Appeals Court Shuts Down CEQA Challenge to San Jose Airport Master Plan

In Citizens Against Airport Pollution v. City of San Jose, No. H038781 (Cal. Ct. App. 6th Dist., June 6, 2014), Citizens Against Airport Pollution (“CAAP”) appealed the trial court’s ruling that the City of San Jose’s (“City”) approval of the eighth addendum to the 1997 Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for the Airport Master Plan did not … Continue Reading

San Mateo Tree Removal Suit Felled by CEQA Statute of Limitations

In Citizens for a Green San Mateo v. San Mateo Cnty. Comm. College Dist. et al., No. A137612 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist., June 17, 2014), the First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision and found that a lawsuit filed by Citizens for a Green San Mateo (“Citizens”) against the San Mateo … Continue Reading

What’s a ROG and Can It Hurt Me? EIR Overturned For Failure to Explain Air Quality Impacts to Human Health

In Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (Cal. Ct. App. 5th Dist. May 27, 2014), the Fifth Appellate District found fault with the County of Fresno’s (County)  review of the Friant Ranch Project (Project) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The appellate court concluded that the County’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) did not sufficiently … Continue Reading

Department of Conservation Issues Revised, Proposed Well Stimulation Treatment Regulations

On June 13, 2014, the Department of Conservation (“Department”)  issued a public notice and posted the latest version of the proposed regulations for the use of well stimulation in oil and gas production (“Revised Proposed Regulations”).  These are revisions to the permanent regulations that will go into effect on January 1, 2015.  The Revised Proposed … Continue Reading

Court Finds No CEQA Necessary For Utility Cabinets on San Francisco Sidewalks

In San Francisco Beautiful v. City and County of San Francisco, No. CPF11511535, (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist. May 30, 2014), the First Appellate District upheld San Francisco's application of a categorical exemption to exempt from CEQA review the installation by AT&T of 726 utility cabinets on public sidewalks. AT&T applied for a categorical exemption for its "Lightspeed" project (the Project), which is intended to upgrade broad band Internet speed and capabilities. The majority of the utility cabinets would be approximately 48 inches high, 51.7 inches wide, and 26 inches deep. (Slip Op. at p. 2.) Although AT&T had not determined precisely where the new utility cabinets would be located, the new cabinets would be "paired" with or placed within 300 feet of existing AT&T utility cabinets. (Ibid.) In response to community concerns, AT&T also promised to affix a 24-hour-a-day contact number for reporting graffiti directly to AT&T and a system in which AT&T personnel would remove the graffiti. (Ibid. at p. 3.) In 2010, AT&T submitted a revised application for a categorical exemption pursuant to section 15303(d) of the CEQA Guidelines (Guidelines), and the San Francisco Planning Department (SFPD) determined that the Project was categorically exempt from CEQA, leading to the present litigation. The trial court denied plaintiffs' challenge, and they appealed.… Continue Reading

Will the California Supreme Court Close the Door to a CEQA Exemption the Legislature Has Refused to Close?

The California Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court, No. S207173 (case submitted May 28, 2014), a case that gives the Justices the opportunity to determine whether a City Council's adoption of a voter-sponsored initiative measure, without submitting that measure to a popular vote, was a discretionary act that required CEQA review prior to approval. The Court of Appeal held that the City Council's act was subject to CEQA and that the City Council should have conducted environmental review. (See Tuolomne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Sup. Ct. (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 1006, cert. granted, No. S207173.) It is established that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does not apply to a project approved by ballot initiative, where the initiative was placed on the ballot by the voters and adopted by the voters in an election. (14 Cal. Code Regs. § 15378(b); DeVita v. County of Napa (1995) 9 Cal.4th 763, 794.) In Tuolumne, however, the Appellants Wal-Mart and James Grinnell (jointly, Appellants) took a different approach in seeking to expand an existing Wal-Mart store to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the City of Sonora. The Appellants submitted a petition supported by the signatures of more than 20 percent of the City of Sonora's 2,489 registered voters to expand the Wal-Mart. The City Council then chose not to submit the measure to an election, and instead, adopted the initiative as an ordinance on its own authority under California Elections Code section 9214(a). Although an EIR was prepared in advance, it was never certified by the City Council. Under California Elections Code section 9214, when a project applicant submits a voter-sponsored initiative petition to the legislative body of a public agency, signed by at least 15 percent of registered voters, with a request that the ordinance be immediately submitted to a special vote, that body must either: (a) adopt the ordinance, without alteration; (b) immediately order a special election and place the measure on the ballot for popular vote; or (c) order a report pursuant to Elections Code section 9212, which allows for abbreviated environmental review. The Justices seemed particularly interested in understanding the legislative policy behind the Elections Code's apparent conflict with CEQA and closely questioned the parties at the hearing packed with interested parties.… Continue Reading

Financial Infeasibility of CEQA Alternatives Determined By Reasonably Prudent Person

In SPRAWLDEF et al. v. San Franscisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, et al. (“SPRAWLDEF”)(certified for publication 5/28/2014), the First Appellate District reversed the trial court’s decision and held the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s (“Commission”) determination that a project alternative was not economically feasible was supported by substantial evidence. The project at issue, … Continue Reading

Is A 16% Reduction in GHG Emissions From “Business-As-Usual” Enough Under CEQA?

Our previous post on the Second District Court of Appeal’s decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Fish & Wildlife, No. B245141 (Mar. 20, 2014), highlighted the court’s holdings on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and California Endangered Species Act (CESA) issues.  The opinion also provides a useful (although unpublished) discussion on how … Continue Reading

High-Speed Rail Fresno to Bakersfield Route Approved

The California High Speed Rail Authority’s (the “Authority”) Board of Directors unanimously voted on Wednesday to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the Fresno to Bakersfield alignment of the high-speed rail project (the “Project”) and approve the selected alignment.  Click HERE for a map of the approved alignment.  The Federal Railroad Administration … Continue Reading

“Late Hit” Document Dump CEQA Reform Proposed by SB 1451

At one time or another, in almost every jurisdiction around the state, on the day before an important project land use hearing, an opponent of the project has submitted a lengthy comment letter (often accompanied by voluminous attachments) alleging that the environmental analysis does not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The lead … Continue Reading

Court Clarifies “Taking” Of Endangered Species And Highlights What’s “Enough” Under CEQA

In Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, No. B245141 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Mar. 20, 2014), the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision, which found that the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (“Department”) certification of an environmental impact statement and report (“EIR”) was “not supported by substantial evidence.”  In … Continue Reading

No Bull: Santa Cruz County Rodeo Qualifies for CEQA Exemption

In Citizens for Environmental Responsibility v. State of California ex rel. 14th District Agricultural Association, et al. (3rd App. Dist., March 26, 2014), the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision to exempt a three-day rodeo from California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) review under the Class 23 categorical exemption[1] because the rodeo would be held … Continue Reading

Governor Brown’s Promised SB 4 Amendments: Proposals Should Appease Environmental Critics by Closing Potential CEQA Loopholes

In his SB 4 signing message (see September 20, 2013 post), Governor Brown promised certain “clarifying” amendments for SB 4, and his administration has begun the process of seeking those amendments. Governor Brown’s proposed legislation would amend SB 4 in three major categories: Permanent Regulations DOGGR’s deadline for draft permanent regulations will be pushed from … Continue Reading

Caltrans EIR Analysis of Impacts to Redwoods Found Inadequate

In Trisha Lee Lotus v. Caltrans (Jan. 30, 2014), the First District Court of Appeal reversed a Humboldt County Superior Court decision, and ruled that a California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) environmental impact report (EIR) failed to adequately analyze the significance of the project’s impacts to old-growth redwood root systems in a state park. Caltrans … Continue Reading

Failure to Comply With LAFCO Procedural Requirements Proves Fatal to CEQA Suit

In Protect Agricultural Land v. Stanislaus County Local Agency Formation Commission (filed January 28, 2014) (“Protect Agricultural Land”), the Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed judgment on the pleadings in favor of the Stanislaus County Local Agency Formation Commission (“LAFCO”), and squarely held that all “lawsuits seeking to set aside a LAFCO approval of an … Continue Reading

Challenge Against DOGGR Can’t Stand Under SB 4: Alameda County Judge Throws Out Environmental Suit

Environmental groups will have to wait to challenge hydraulic fracturing activities in the state of California until the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”)  issues its permanent regulations in 2015.  This is according to Alameda County Judge Evelio Grillo, who on January 17, 2014, granted a motion to dismiss a challenge brought by … Continue Reading

It’s in the Bag: San Fran Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance Survives Court Challenge

In Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City and County of San Francisco, et al. (“Plastic Bag III”) (December 10, 2013), the First District Court of Appeal affirmed the Superior Court’s denial of a petition for a writ of mandate seeking to invalidate a 2012 San Francisco ordinance banning the use of plastic, single-use “checkout … Continue Reading

Application for State Funds Not A “Project” Under CEQA

In City of Irvine v. County of Orange (“City of Irvine”) (published and modified on November 22, 2013), the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the County of Orange’s (“County”) application for state funding for jail expansion was not a “project” requiring environmental review pursuant to CEQA. In City of Irvine, … Continue Reading

New Alternative Does Not Trigger Recirculation of Draft EIR Unless Considered “Significant New Information”

In South County Citizens for Smart Growth v. County of Nevada, the Third Appellate District held that South County Citizens for Smart Growth’s (“Smart Growth”) claim that the County of Nevada  violated CEQA by failing to prepare and recirculate a revised draft EIR was unfounded because the new alternative project proposal did not constitute “significant … Continue Reading

AB 417 Adds Statutory CEQA Exemption for Bicycle Transportation Plans

On October 7, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 417 (“AB 417”) authored by Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) that streamlines the CEQA process for bicycle transportation plans. Although the 2012-2013 legislative term began with high hopes for significant CEQA reform, AB 417, in addition to SB 743 (see blog post regarding … Continue Reading

Governor Brown Signs SB 743 – The CEQA Reform That Wasn’t

On September 27, 2013, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 743, bringing to a close a legislative session full of surprises when it comes to CEQA reform.  SB 743 paves the way for streamlined judicial review of the proposed new Sacramento Kings downtown arena and sets forth a few additional streamlining provisions under the California Environmental … Continue Reading
LexBlog