California Native Plant Society v. County of El Dorado

(2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 1026

The Court of Appeal held that the payment of a rare plant impact fee did not presumptively establish full mitigation for the potential impacts of a senior assisted living and Alzheimers’ care unit project in El Dorado County. The project was approved with a mitigated negative declaration, which relied on the payment of the plant impact fee as mitigation for impacts to two endangered plant species with confirmed populations on the project site. The court ruled that although a comprehensive preservation program funded by impact fees may be a sound strategy for addressing such impacts, the absence of any environmental review for the adoption of the fee program meant that reviews of individual projects triggering the fee could not presumptively assume that payment of the fee constitutes full mitigation for the potential impact. The court also found fault with the County’s failure to update the fee program as required. [RMM Counsel of record: Andrea K. Leisy and Laura M. Harris.]