Archives: December 2011

Hewlett v. Squaw Valley Ski Corp.

(1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 499

The Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision imposing civil penalties and a permanent injunction on Squaw Valley Ski Corporation for cutting down trees without necessary permits. The decision was the culmination of a long-running dispute over Squaw Valley’s efforts to develop Shirley Canyon, a wilderness area just north of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. The appellate court as follows: (i) violations of conditions in a use permit can form the basis for an unfair competition claim under Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq.; (ii) where a developer commits multiple violations of its use permit or of other permit requirements, these violations can establish an “unlawful business practice,” even if all of the violations occurred in the context of a single project; and (iii) a trial court has broad discretion to impose civil penalties and to craft injunctive relief to prevent further violations. Injunctive relief may go so far as to preclude future development. [RMM Counsel of record: Michael H. Remy]

Chaparral Greens v. City of Chula Vista

(1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 1134

The Court of Appeal held that the City of Chula Vista and the County of San Diego complied with CEQA when they certified a first-tier EIR for the Otay Ranch project in southwestern San Diego County. The court rejected arguments by a local environmental group that the EIR had failed to take into account the project’s alleged impact on the ongoing, multi-jurisdictional efforts to preserve vestiges of coastal sage scrub habitat. The court likewise rejected the petitioner’s argument that the City and County violated CEQA by failing to revise or recirculate the Program EIR based on information that became available after the final Program EIR was issued, but prior to its certification. The court held that neither the issuance of draft conservation guidelines nor the release of multi-species mapping and evaluation information revealed new project-related impacts on biological resources requiring recirculation of the EIR. Finally, the court upheld an award of costs to the City. [RMM Counsel of record: Tina A. Thomas, James G. Moose and Whitman F. Manley]

Stanislaus Audubon Society, Inc. v. County of Stanislaus

(1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 144

The Court of Appeal held that substantial evidence in the record before the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors supported a “fair argument” that a proposed golf course/resort in a rural area might cause significant environmental effects, and thus ordered the preparation of an EIR. The evidence in question indicated that the approval of the project might be “growth-inducing” and, in particular, might lead to the ultimate development of homes near the golf course. The court rejected the County’s argument that it could deal with future growth issues later, at the time when actual residential development proposals were filed with the County. [RMM Counsel of record: James G. Moose]

Natural Resources Defense Council v. California Fish & Game Commission

(1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 1104

The Court of Appeal held that the Fish and Game Commission, in scrutinizing a petition to list a species as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act, must advance the species to “candidacy” status if the petition, considered in light of the Department of Fish and Game’s staff report and any comments received by the Commission, contains sufficient information to lead a reasonable person to conclude there is a substantial possibility the requested listing should occur. The court thus struck down the Commission’s refusal to advance the California gnatcatcher to candidacy status, and directed the Commission to reconsider the petition in light of the appropriate evidentiary standard. [RMM Counsel of record: Whitman F. Manley]

Sacramento County v. Local Agency Formation Commission

(1992) 3 Cal.4th 903

The California Supreme Court ruled that the “rational relation” test must be applied in determining the constitutionality of a statute defining the appropriate group of voters to participate in an incorporation election. In so doing, the court upheld a California statute limiting voters to those who resided within the boundaries of the proposed area to be incorporated. In reaching its decision, the court was required to overrule one of its earlier decisions addressing similar issues. Before the matter reached the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal had applied strict scrutiny in reviewing the pertinent statute, and had concluded that, in a municipal election involving matters with potential countywide impacts, registered voters in the entire county were eligible to vote.

The Court of Appeal had also upheld the lower court’s determination to require preparation of an EIR as a precondition to incorporation. Applying the “fair argument” standard of review, the trial court had determined that substantial evidence in the record showed that significant environmental effects might occur, and thus required preparation of an EIR. The Supreme Court upheld that portion of the Court of Appeal decision, although the appellate decision is no longer citable statewide precedent on the environmental issue. [RMM Counsel of record: Tina A. Thomas, James G. Moose and Whitman F. Manley]

City of Sacramento v. State Water Resources Control Board

(1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 960

The Court of Appeal determined that the California Department of Food and Agriculture (now the Department of Pesticide Regulation) was the appropriate “lead agency” in dealing with the annual formulation and approval of “Rice Pesticide Plans.” The appellate court defined the “project” requiring the preparation of an environmental impact analysis as the formulation, approval, and implementation of the Rice Pesticide Plans. [RMM Counsel of record: Tina A. Thomas and James G. Moose]

Oro Fino Gold Mining Corp. v. County of El Dorado

(1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 872

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of a county board of supervisors requiring an EIR for a use permit for exploratory drilling for gold. The applicant had filed suit demanding that the permit be issued based on a mitigated negative declaration, as recommended by planning department staff. The applicant argued that the county could not require an EIR because, during previous administrative proceedings relating to the same property, the county had approved a similar conditional use permit based on a mitigated negative declaration. In requiring an EIR, the board of supervisors had relied principally on evidence submitted by the neighbors regarding traffic, dust, and noise. [RMM Counsel of record: Tina A. Thomas and James G. Moose]

Kings County Farm Bureau v. City of Hanford

(1990) 221 Cal.App.3d 692

The Court of Appeal held that an EIR prepared for the construction of a coal-fired cogeneration power plant was inadequate for failing to properly assess secondary and cumulative air quality impacts, and because its analyses of groundwater impacts and project alternatives were deficient. The court also held that the City’s General Plan was inadequate because it depended on information contained in documents not referenced in the General Plan itself. [RMM Counsel of record: Michael H. Remy and James G. Moose]

Midway Orchards v. County of Butte

(1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 765

The Court of Appeal held that a general plan amendment does not become effective until thirty days after adoption, so that affected citizens can circulate a referendum petition challenging such legislative action during that period. Based on this conclusion, the court held invalid an ordinance purporting to create a development agreement consistent with such an amendment because the ordinance was adopted prior to the expiration of the 30-day referendum period. In an unpublished portion of the decision, the court also held that the form of the referendum petition challenging the general plan amendment was legally valid. [RMM Counsel of record: Michael H. Remy and James G. Moose]