The First District Court of Appeal previously issued a partially published opinion in the case San Francisco Tomorrow v. City and County of San Francisco, Case No. A137753. Those portions of the opinion were discussed in a prior blog post found here.
After the initial partial-publication order, the First District ordered part II of its discussion published, which analyzes whether the project complied with the City’s general plan.
San Francisco Tomorrow, joined by amicus curiae Sierra Club, argued that the trial court improperly deferred to the City’s interpretation of certain “priority policies” contained within the City’s general plan. San Francisco Tomorrow reasoned that the priority policies had been enacted by citizen initiative rather than being authored by the City itself. Therefore, the petitioners urged the appellate court to strictly interpret the requirements of these policies and strike down the City’s findings which determined that the project was “generally compatible” or compatible “on balance” with the priority policies. But the appellate court disagreed, pointing to a host of cases describing the abuse of discretion standard courts apply when reviewing a municipality’s consistency findings. The court determined this standard of review does not change where policies are the result of an initiative adopted by voters, because once an initiative has been approved, it becomes part of the applicable land-use plan. The court declined to apply a strict construction of the individual priority policies and determined that a reasonable person could find that the project was consistent with and furthered various general plan policies.