First District Court of Appeal Rules a County Board of Supervisors Did Not Need to Hear an Appeal of a Decision to Certify an EIR for Modifications to a Solid Waste Facility Permit Approved by the Local Enforcement Agency
May 17th, 2012 by Jeannie Lee
No Wetlands Landfill Expansion v. County of Marin (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 573
The First District Court of Appeal ruled that a County Board of Supervisors did not need to hear an appeal of a decision to certify an EIR for modifications to a solid waste facility permit approved by the County’s local enforcement agency.
The Redwood Landfill is an existing landfill located in northern Marin County. In 1999, the landfill operator applied to revise the landfill’s solid waste facility permit. The application sought to expand the landfill’s capacity and to adjust landfill operations. Marin County Environmental Health Services (EHS), the local permitting agency under State law, prepared and certified the Final EIR. The petitioners tried to appeal that decision to the County Board of Supervisors. The county rejected the appeal because EHS was the final decision-maker. In December 2008, EHS approved the permit amendments. The petitioners sued. The trial court ruled the county had erred by rejecting the appeal to the Board of Supervisors. The trial court did not reach the merits with respect to the adequacy of the EIR. The county and applicant appealed.
The Court of Appeal reversed. EHS was lead agency as the designated local enforcement agency under the California Integrated Waste Management Act. As such, its decision to certify the EIR was not appealable to the Board of Supervisors. Public Resources Code section 21151, subdivision (c), provides that, if an EIR is certified by a non-elected decision-making body within a local lead agency, then that certification may be appealed to the local lead agency’s elected decision-making body. That section did not apply, however, because EHS was a separate, distinct entity vested with authority over the permit and, as such, EHS had no elected decision-making body. The trial court erred in directing the Board of Supervisors to consider the appeal.
The county and applicant asked the Court of Appeal to reach the merits of the petitioners’ attack on the EIR. The Court of Appeal declined, and sent the case back to the trial court to be heard on the merits.