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Court of Appeal Finds Caltrans Omitted Material Necessary to Informed Decision Making by Failing to Include a Threshold of...

In Lotus v. Department of Transportation (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 645, a California Court of Appeal found that Caltrans omitted material necessary to informed decision-making and informed public-participation when it failed to...more

3/4/2014 - Caltrans CEQA Environmental Assessments Environmental Liability Omissions

“Spot Zoning” Found Permissible Where Small Parcel Given Greater Rights than Surrounding Properties and New Zoning Served the...

The Orange County Board of Supervisors (“Board”) approved a proposed senior citizen living community (“Project”) on a seven-acre parcel, creating a new zoning definition for senior residential housing and rezoning the parcel...more

1/27/2014 - Land Developers Municipalities Public Interest Real Estate Market Urban Planning & Development

Preparation of EIR Not Required for Ordinance Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags and Establishing Fee for Paper and Noncompostable...

After the City and County of San Francisco (“San Francisco”) enacted an ordinance expanding existing restrictions on the use of plastic shopping bags by retail establishments, an industry group that has filed several lawsuits...more

1/20/2014 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Environmental Policies Municipalities Plastic Bag Bans

Expert Testimony Recommending Vapor Intrusion Study is Insufficient Evidence of Health Effects, Does Not Trigger Need for EIR

After the Berkeley City Council (“City”) approved a mixed-use commercial and residential project on the site of a former car dealership and service garage, a community group sued, claiming that pre-existing contamination on...more

1/14/2014 - Contaminated Properties Environmental Impact Report Expert Testimony Expert Witness Vapor Intrusion

County Application for Jail Expansion State Funding Not a “Project” Requiring CEQA Review

In 2011, after the state legislature approved realignment legislation and funds to shift low-level offenders from state prisons to county jails, Orange County (“County”) applied for state funding to expand its jail facility...more

12/18/2013 - CEQA Environmental Policies Public Projects

Minor General Plan Housing Element Update Does Not Require New EIR

In the interests of finality, the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) places limits on additional environmental review once a government agency has already completed environmental review for a project. After an...more

12/10/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Environmental Policies

Public Interest in Renewable Energy May Outweigh the Purpose of the Williamson Act; Cancellation of Williamson Act Contracts May...

After a Central Valley county cancelled Williamson Act contracts on ranchland to make way for a solar energy plant, several environmental groups sued challenging the County’s decision. The trial court found against the...more

11/21/2013 - CEQA Energy Energy Policy Environmental Impact Report Farms Renewable Energy Williamson Act

City Planning Commission’s Certification of EIR Found Improper Because City Council Improperly Delegated CEQA Certification

A city’s planning commission certified an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for a city general plan update and recommended the city council approve the update. The certification and approval were not appealed to the...more

11/11/2013 - Administrative Remedies CEQA Certifications City Councils Environmental Impact Report Urban Planning & Development

Legislature Passes Arena Bill

Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 743 (“SB 743”) on September 27, 2013. The bill amends the Public Resources Code to streamline the environmental review for the new downtown arena in Sacramento and eliminate...more

11/11/2013 - CEQA Construction Contracts Urban Planning & Development

Winery Zoning Ordinance Allowing Establishment of Boutique Wineries Without Discretionary Permits Survives CEQA Challenge

A county prepared an environmental impact report (“EIR”) and adopted a zoning ordinance allowing the development of small wineries “by right,” without a discretionary permit. A citizens group opposed to the ordinance sued,...more

11/4/2013 - CEQA Permits Wine & Alcohol

State Water Resources Control Board May Prevent Illegal Diversions Of Water, Even If Diverter Claims Riparian Or Pre-1914...

In Young v. State Water Resources Control Board (--- Cal.App.4th ----, Cal.App. 3 Dist., August 4, 2013), a California court of appeal considered whether the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) has the...more

9/27/2013 - Appropriation Department of Water Resources Riparian Rights Water Water Diversion Water Rights

Environmental Impact Report Must Compare Existing Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Those of the Proposed Project

A city approved relocation and expansion of an existing Wal-Mart into a 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter. Opponents of the expansion sued, claiming the project approval violated the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”)...more

9/20/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Greenhouse Gas Emissions Wal-Mart

Court Upholds County’s Ban of Single-Use Plastic

A coalition of companies involved in making and distributing plastic bags challenged an ordinance that bans single-use plastic bags and imposes a fee. The coalition alleged that the county failed to comply with the California...more

9/16/2013 - CEQA Environmental Claims Environmental Policies Plastic Bag Bans

Air Quality Thresholds of Significance Not a “Project” Under CEQA

A local air quality management district proposed new thresholds of significance for air pollutants to meet tighter state and federal air quality standards and to clarify analysis of air pollutant impacts under the California...more

9/12/2013 - Air Pollution Air Quality Standards CEQA Environmental Impact Report Land Developers

California Supreme Court Settles the CEQA Baseline Debate

A transportation authority planned a light-rail extension line and prepared an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”). In analyzing traffic and air quality impacts, the EIR omitted an existing conditions baseline and instead...more

9/10/2013 - CEQA Environmental Claims Environmental Impact Report Environmental Policies Smart Rail

CEQA Review Of Regulatory Program Must be Completed Before Approval Of Regulations

A state agency’s board approved new environmental regulations on fuels contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time delegated completion of environmental review and response to public comments to the agency’s...more

7/31/2013 - CEQA Ethanol Greenhouse Gas Emissions Oil & Gas

Fifth District Court Of Appeal Rules Communications Between Lead Agency And Developer Made Prior To Project Approval Must Be...

A citizens group challenged the development of a shopping center anchored by a Wal-Mart store by filing a lawsuit stating that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). After the city prepared the...more

7/22/2013 - CEQA Disclosure Requirements Electronic Communications Project Management Wal-Mart

To Comply With The Brown Act, Consideration Of A CEQA Document Must Be Listed As A Separate Agenda Item From Consideration Of...

A county planning commission posted a meeting agenda that included an item on a potential approval of a subdivision application. At the meeting, the commission not only approved the subdivision, it also approved a Mitigated...more

6/7/2013 - CEQA Mitigated Negative Declaration Notice Requirements Public Meetings Ralph M. Brown Act

Court of Appeal Reverses Trial Court’s Disapproval Of Environmental Impact Report For Seawater Desalination Plant

A municipal water district proposed a project to build a seawater desalination plant to avoid predicted future water supply shortages. After the water district certified an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for the...more

6/6/2013 - CEQA Clean Water Act Critical Habitat Endangered Species Act Environmental Impact Report Fishing Industry Greenhouse Gas Emissions Seismic Data Water

Court Of Appeal Finds County Approval Of EIR For Sand And Gravel Mining Project Does Not Violate CEQA

An organization challenged a county’s approval of a final revised environmental impact report for a project that would allow sand and gravel mining in the bed of the Cuyama River. The court of appeal affirmed the trial...more

4/1/2013 - CEQA Conditional Use Permit Environmental Impact Report Mining Mitigation Water

No Need To Address Adjacent Project In EIR Because Projects Are Separate, Have Different Proponents, And Serve Different Purposes

A city certified an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for development of a park. A conservancy group claimed the city wrongly defined the project to exclude a residential and commercial development project that was pending...more

1/28/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Permits Project Definition

Voter-Approved Measure That Establishes A Competitive Bidding Process For Future Waste Service Contracts Is Not A “Project” And Is...

A city council’s decision to place a measure on the ballot to establish competitive bidding for future trash service contracts did not require prior environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act...more

11/14/2012

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