In a 58-page published opinion filed June 30, 2016, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed the Alameda County Superior Court’s judgment upholding the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) and Association of Bay Area Government’s (ABAG) EIR for and approval of “Plan Bay Area,” the agencies’ first Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) prepared pursuant to California’s landmark “Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008” (SB 375).  Bay Area Citizens v. Association of Bay Area Governments, et al (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 966.

Continue Reading First District Rejects CEQA Challenge To “Plan Bay Area” Sustainable Communities Strategy EIR As Premised On Fundamental Misinterpretation of SB 375

In a decision filed May 25, and belatedly ordered published June 15, 2016, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed and reversed in part a judgment of the San Bernardino County Superior Court.  It affirmed the judgment to the extent it held the Wal-Mart Tamarisk Marketplace Project (Project) EIR inadequately analyzed the Project’s GHG emissions and that the Project was inconsistent with the City of Victorville’s (City) General Plan; it reversed to the extent the judgment failed to also find that City violated CEQA by not recirculating the EIR and violated the Subdivision Map Act (Map Act) by failing to make all findings required by Government Code § 66474.  (Spring Valley Lake Association v. City of Victorville (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Real Party in Interest) (4th Dist., Div. 1) 248 Cal.App.4th 91.)


Continue Reading Fourth District Holds Wal-Mart Victorville Project EIR Violates CEQA; Project Approval Findings Violate Map Act; And Project Is Inconsistent With General Plan

In a lengthy opinion filed December 2, 2015, and belatedly ordered published on January 4, 2016, the Third District Court of Appeal invalidated the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) programmatic EIR for a seven-year program to eradicate an invasive pest – an Australian native insect known as the light brown apple moth (LBAM) – that threatens California’s native plants and agricultural crops. North Coast Rivers Alliance, et al. v. A.G. Kawamura/Our Children’s Earth Foundation, et al. v. California Department of Food and Agriculture (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 647. It reversed the trial court’s judgments denying appellants’ mandate petitions and remanded with directions to grant them.
Continue Reading CDFA Program EIR Violates CEQA By Failing To Analyze Invasive Moth Control Program As Alternative To Eradication, Holds Third District

The First District Court of Appeal held the California State Lands Commission’s (“CSLC”) EIR for a project involving the lease of sovereign lands beneath San Francisco Bay for private dredge mining of sand complied with CEQA; however, it partially reversed the trial court’s judgment denying a writ because the record failed to demonstrate CSLC’s compliance with the public trust doctrine. San Francisco Baykeeper, Inc. v. California State Lands Commission (Hanson Marine Operations, Inc., et al., Real Parties In Interest) (1st Dist., Div. 4, 2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 202, filed 11/18/15.
Continue Reading State Lands Commission’s CEQA Review of SF Bay/Delta Sand Mining Project Approval Is Adequate, But Fails to Fulfill Obligation to Consider Public Trust Doctrine

In a 65-page opinion certified for publication and filed October 22, 2015, the Second Appellate District Court of Appeal affirmed the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s judgment denying writ petitions by the City of Beverly Hills (“City”) and the Beverly Hills Unified School District (“District”). Petitioners and Appellants’ actions challenged respondent Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (“LA Metro”) EIS/EIR and related approval of the Westside Subway Extension Project (the “Project”). The Project involves the extension of Metro’s Purple Line heavy rail transit (HRT) subway system to the Westside of Los Angeles through the addition of 7 stations and 9 miles of subway line, and includes a new Century City station (the “Constellation station”) to be reached through a tunnel to be constructed underneath Beverly Hills High School. The City of Beverly Hills v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Case No. B256753) (2d Dist., Div. 4, 2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 627.
Continue Reading Second District Rejects CEQA And Fair Transit Hearing Challenges To LA Metro’s Westside Subway Extension Project In Lengthy Published Opinion

In an August 3, 2015 decision that impacts the California State University’s (CSU) plans to expand its campuses across the state, the California Supreme Court has rejected CSU’s arguments that mitigation of its projects’ off-site impacts through the payment of “fair share” fees is legally infeasible unless the Legislature appropriates funding specifically earmarked for that purpose. City of San Diego, et al. v. Board of Trustees of the California State University (2015) ___ Cal.4th ___, 2015 WL 4605356 (Case No. S199557). The Supreme Court thus affirmed the court of appeal’s judgment decertifying CSU’s 2007 EIR and related findings of infeasibility and statement of overriding considerations for its San Diego State University (SDSU) campus expansion project.
Continue Reading The “Old College Try” Flunks Out: California Supreme Court Holds CEQA Mitigation Obligation For CSU Campus Expansion Projects Extends Beyond Unsuccessful Effort To Obtain Earmarked Legislative Appropriation

In a short published opinion, the Second District Court of Appeal rejected federal Clean Water Act, state Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act, and CEQA challenges to a regional board’s Basin Plan Amendment establishing a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for lake bed sediment in a polluted terminal lake (McGrath Lake). Conway v. State Water Resources Control Board (3/30/15 2d Dist., Div. 6) 235 Cal.App.4th 671, 2d Civil No. B252688.
Continue Reading Second District Holds First Tier CEQA Analysis Suffices For Regional Board’s Setting of Novel TMDL For Lake Bed Sediment

In a published opinion filed February 18, 2015, the Third District Court of Appeal rejected all legal challenges to the City of Sacramento’s EIR and CEQA compliance for approval of its new downtown entertainment and sports center (ESC) which will serve as the Sacramento King’s new home arena. Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento (3d Dist. 2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 549. Key points of the Court’s decision, which affirmed the trial court’s judgment denying the writ sought by project opponents, include:
Continue Reading CEQA Review of Sacramento Kings Downtown Arena Project Held Legally Adequate In Published Third District Opinion

In a lengthy published decision filed February 10, 2015, and addressing consolidated appeals in three related actions, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment rejecting petitioner and appellant Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) CEQA challenge to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Program EIR (PEIR) reviewing on a statewide basis environmental impacts of its statutorily mandated fish hatchery and stocking enterprise – an operation that has been ongoing for more than 100 years. Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Fish and Wildlife (3d Dist. 2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 214.  The case addresses a number of important CEQA issues, including the rules governing use of PEIRs, baseline setting, deferral of mitigation, and alternatives analysis. (The non-CEQA portions of the opinion, which are not summarized in detail herein, held three mitigation measures CDFW imposed on an urban fishing program and private stocking permits – and which detrimentally affected private fish farmers and vendors beyond CDFW’s internal management – were “underground regulations” improperly adopted without formal compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act.)
Continue Reading Third District Rejects CEQA Challenge To Program EIR For California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Statewide Fish Hatchery/Stocking Enterprise

On January 6, 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review the decision in Cleveland National Forest Foundation, et al. v. San Diego Association at Governments, et al. (4th Dist. 2014) __ Cal.App.4th __, Case No. D063288, Supreme Court Case No. S223603.  (For a discussion of the Court of Appeal’s decision, see “Analysis Of GHGs Under CEQA Just Got More Complex:  Fourth District’s Split Decision Invalidates Program EIR For SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy” by Arthur F. Coon, posted December 1, 2014.)
Continue Reading SANDAG Seeks Review of CEQA Decision Invalidating EIR for Its Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy