Government Code Does Not Require Analysis of Environmental Impacts Directly Related to School Facilities

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In a partially published opinion, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District, interpreted Government Code Section 65596(a) (as revised by the Leroy F. Greene School Facilities Act of 1998 [“Senate Bill 50”]), and examined the effect of language restricting the “methods of considering and mitigating [project-related] impacts on school facilities” (italics added) on an environmental impact report (“EIR”). In the published portion of its opinion, the court found that impacts directly related to school facilities do not require consideration under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). On the other hand, the reasonably foreseeable non-school impacts caused by a project must be analyzed in an EIR.

The EIR in question was prepared for a project that proposed to develop 1,574 acres in the County of Madera (“County”) into a mix of residential, commercial, light industrial, open space, recreational and other public uses (“Project”). The Project’s 5,200 dwelling units were estimated to accommodate approximately 13,850 people, including 3,200 school-aged children; thus requiring new school facilities – two elementary schools and, possibly, one junior high school.

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