Banning Ranch Conservancy v. City of Newport Beach

(2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1209

On December 12, 2012, the Fourth Appellate District upheld the City of Newport Beach’s EIR for the Sunset Ridge Park Project, finding that the city did not improperly “piecemeal” the project and that substantial evidence supported the city’s analyses of cumulative impacts and growth-inducing impacts.

In March 2009, the City announced that it was acting as the lead agency to prepare an EIR for the Newport Banning Ranch Project. The City’s Notice of Preparation (NOP) explained that Newport Banning Ranch Project proposes the development of residential, commercial, and overnight resort accommodations on the Banning Ranch site. Two months after the City issued the NOP for the Newport Banning Ranch Project, the City issued a NOP for the Sunset Ridge Park Project. The NOP for the park project explained that the City proposed to develop an approximately 18.9-acre site with active and passive recreational uses and an access road to the park through Newport Banning Ranch.

The challenge brought by Banning Ranch Conservancy alleged that the City had violated CEQA in certifying the EIR for the Sunset Ridge Project. The trial court denied the petition and petitioner appealed.

Petitioner contended the “project” analyzed in the EIR should have included both the Newport Banning Ranch Project and the Sunset Ridge Park Project. The appellate court disagreed, finding that that the Newport Banning Ranch Project would not be a “consequence” of the City’s park project. The court also rejected all of petitioner’s claims that the EIR had not adequately addressed the Park Project’s environmental impacts, including cumulative and growth-inducing impacts. [RMM Partner Whitman F. Manley and Senior Counsel Jennifer S. Holman represented respondent City].