Vineyard Area Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Rancho Cordova

(2007) 40 Cal.4th 412

The Supreme Court held that the EIR prepared for a 6,000-acre community plan and its first phase of development contained an adequate analysis of the near-term water supplies but did not adequately assess the long-term water supplies. The court held that the long-term water supply analysis was both procedurally and factually inadequate. Procedurally, the Final EIR improperly claimed to tier from a future regional water planning environmental document, failed to explicitly incorporate and/or tier from the impact and mitigation discussion of another relevant EIR, and relied on a mitigation measure that would curtail development if an adequate water supply did not materialize without analyzing the environmental impacts of such action. Factually, the Final EIR failed to explain discrepancies between the estimated surface water supply and water demand at build-out and estimates contained in the Water Forum EIR, an important regional water planning document. The court concluded on these bases that the Final EIR lacked substantial evidence that the requisite water supply bore a reasonable likelihood of being available for the community plan in the long term. The court also held that the County should have re-circulated a Draft EIR that addressed the impacts of groundwater pumping on the Cosumnes River and its dependent species before preparation of the Final EIR because its failure to do so denied the public and decision makers the opportunity to evaluate the project in light of all its potentially significant environmental impacts. [RMM Counsel of record: James G. Moose and Sabrina V. Teller]