California Clean Energy Committee v. City of Woodland

(2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 173 

The Third District Court of Appeal held that the City of Woodland’s EIR for a regional shopping center failed to comply with CEQA. The shopping center, known as “Gateway II,” was planned for undeveloped agricultural land on the outskirts of the city. The city prepared a programmatic EIR for the project, reduced its size from 234 acres to 61.3 acres as a result, and approved the project.  

In the published portion of the opinion, the court considered the sufficiency of five mitigation measures for urban decay impacts caused by the project. The court found that one measure, which served to ensure that the primary retail uses for the development would be regional and not compete with retailers in downtown Woodland, was permissible under CEQA. By itself, however, this measure did not constitute adequate mitigation of anticipated urban decay from the project. The court found the other measures inadequate because they lacked specificity or adequate commitments for future action. The court also held that the city’s treatment of energy impacts was inadequate, and that the city failed to comply with CEQA when it rejected a mixed-use alternative as infeasible. 

In the unpublished portion of the case, the court rejected the petitioner’s claim that the city’s actions in approving the shopping center violated the State Planning and Zoning Law because the project was inconsistent with the city’s general plan policy of revitalizing its downtown. The court held that the petitioner failed to preserve this argument because the petition did not plead a separate violation of the State Planning and Zoning Law. (RMM partners Whitman F. Manley and Sabrina Teller, associate Amanda Berlin and former RMM associate Holly Roberson represented the City of Woodland in the case.)