Archives: July 2011

Second District Court of Appeal Upholds City’s Analysis of Mitigation Measures for Climate Change, Rejects Challenge to Hospital Expansion Project

On July 26, 2011, the Second District Court of Appeal ordered the publication of Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment v. City of Santa Clarita (2011) __Cal.App.4th__. The appellate court affirmed the denial of a petition for writ of mandate that challenged the City of Santa Clarita’s approval of a Master Plan and a development agreement to allow the expansion of hospital and medical office building facilities. The court rejected the petitioner’s argument that the city’s conclusion regarding the infeasibility of completely mitigating the project’s impact on climate change was not supported by substantial evidence. The court also found the city could properly engage in a balancing of the project’s perceived benefits against its adverse impacts on neighboring residents. Continue reading

Third District Court of Appeal Restricts Disclosure of Cultural Resource Sites and Upholds Agency’s Vineyard Analysis of Water Supplies

On July 8, 2011, the Third District Court of Appeal in Clover Valley Foundation v. City of Rocklin (2011) __Cal.App.4th__ upheld the ruling of the trial court on a challenge to an EIR for a residential development in favor of the City of Rocklin. This case addresses a number of CEQA claims brought by multiple plaintiffs. In important part, the court held the city was prohibited by state and federal law from revealing detailed information about cultural resources to the public to protect such resources from destruction, despite CEQA’s requirement to disclose information about cultural resources that would be impacted by a proposed project. The court also applied the Supreme Court’s ruling in Vineyard Area Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Rancho Cordova (2007) 40 Cal.4th 412 to find the city had appropriately analyzed water supplies for the project in the EIR. The court rejected appellants’ remaining claims related to the sufficiency of the EIR in addressing growth-inducement and impacts to oak trees, the California black rail, aesthetics, and traffic, as well as consistency with the general plan. Continue reading

Fourth District Court of Appeal Finds Estoppel Does Not Prevent an Agency from Asserting the Application of a CEQA Exemption After an EIR Has Been Completed and Challenged

On July 7, 2011, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ordered the publication of Del Cerro Mobile Estates v. City of Placentia (2011) __Cal.App.4th__. The appellate court held estoppel did not prevent the City of Placentia from raising the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) railroad grade separation exemption for the first time after Del Cerro Mobile Estates had already filed an action challenging the City’s certified environmental impact report (EIR) for the project. The court also rejected Del Cerro’s waiver and statutory construction arguments related to the CEQA exemption. Finally, the court found Del Cerro’s challenge to the City’s adoption of resolutions related to the project was unripe. Continue reading

Governor Brown Signs Legislation Extending Expiring Subdivision Maps for an Additional Two Years

On July 18, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2008, authored by Assemblyman Fuentes (D-Sylmar). The bill affects the expiration dates for tentative maps or vesting tentative maps approved by local agencies under the Subdivision Map Act. The Subdivision Map Act requires an approved tentative map or vesting tentative map to expire 24 months after its approval, or after an additional period of time prescribed by local ordinance, not to exceed 12 months. AB 2008 adds section 66452.23 to the Government Code in order to extend by 24 months the expiration date of any approved tentative map or vesting tentative map that has not expired as of the effective date of the act and will expire prior to January 1, 2014. A similar bill (AB 333) providing a 24-month extension to expiring maps was adopted in 2009. Continue reading

Fourth District Court of Appeal Directs Trial Court to Determine Whether Mitigation Measures Adequately Addressed Contaminated Soils, Upholds Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis

On July 8, 2011, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ordered the publication of Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development v. City of Chula Vista (2011) __Cal.App.4th__. The appellate court reversed in part a judgment denying a petition for writ of mandate that challenged a mitigated negative declaration (MND) adopted by the City of Chula Vista for a new expanded Target store. The Fourth District remanded the matter to the trial court to determine whether the mitigation measures required as a condition for receiving building permits adequately addressed contaminated soils. Continue reading

Supreme Court Rules for Manhattan Beach in Plastic Bag Ban Case

On July 14, 2001, the California Supreme Court today issued its ruling in Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach. The court ruled in favor of the City of Manhattan Beach, upholding the City’s decision to ban plastic bags on the basis of a negative declaration. In its opinion, the court dealt with two issues of some consequence for practitioners of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): (1) standing and (2) the fair argument standard. Petitioner, a coalition of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors, claimed standing to maintain a citizen suit under CEQA. On the merits of the case, Petitioner argued that the evidence in the record supported a fair argument that the ban would increase environmental damage, so that an EIR was required. The Supreme Court ruled for Petitioner on the procedural issue and against Petitioner on the merits. Continue reading

Fourth District Court of Appeal Holds Doctrine of Res Judicata Bars Petitioners From Challenging County’s Compliance with Prior Writ and EIR Need Not Be Recirculated Based On New Evidence Of Endangered Species On Project Site

On July 18, 2011, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Silverado Modjeska Recreation and Parks District v. County of Orange (2011) ___Cal.App.4th___ found that the doctrine of res judicata barred petitioners from challenging respondent county’s compliance with a prior writ compelling the county to prepare and circulate an supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) considering the impact of the Silverado Canyon Ranch project on water quality. The court also rejected petitioners’ argument that following circulation of the draft SEIR, the county should have recirculated the SEIR with respect to a recent observation of endangered toad larvae in a creek near the project site. Lastly, the court reversed the trial court’s post-judgment order compelling payment of attorneys’ fees to the project developer, CCRC Farms, LLC, from one of the petitioners because the fee claim was based on the terms of an agreement between the developer and the petitioner and therefore should not have been resolved by way of a motion of attorneys’ fees. Continue reading

First District Court of Appeal Holds Code of Civil Procedure Section 12 Applies in Determining How Long a Notice of Determination Must Be Posted

On June 27, 2011, the First District Court of Appeal in Latinos Unidos De Napa v. City of Napa (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1154 (Case No. A129584), reversed a judgment dismissing a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) challenge on statute of limitations grounds. The court concluded the applicable statute of limitations was 180 days, not 30 days, because the notice of determination (NOD) had not been posted for a full 30 days as required by Public Resources Code section 21152, subdivision (c). Significantly, the court held that Code of Civil Procedure section 12 applies to the calculation of how long an NOD must be posted, and thus the first day on which an NOD is posted does not count as part of the 30-day posting period. Since the county clerk failed to post the notice for the entire 30th day as statutorily required, the 30-day statute of limitations was never triggered and the longer 180-day statute of limitations of Public Resources Code section 21167, subdivision (a), applied. Continue reading