Reliance on Statutory Requirements to Mitigate Environmental Impacts Proper Under CEQA


In this case, the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District rejected all of petitioner’s arguments regarding the adequacy of the seismic impact analysis and mitigation measures in a revised Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) prepared for a project that proposed to convert 64 acres of maritime and industrial land along Oakland’s waterfront into residential, retail/commercial, open space and marina uses (“Project”).

Petitioner first argued that the EIR failed to properly evaluate the risk of seismic damage to structures as a Project impact. Specifically, petitioner contended that the EIR failed to analyze damage to structures and provide mitigation that would allow for immediate re-occupancy of buildings following an earthquake. Instead, the EIR focused on whether the Project structures could be designed to a life safety standard that would protect against the substantial risk of loss, injury or death. The court rejected petitioner's argument, stating: “[w]e do not accept the premise . . . that under CEQA, as a matter of law, seismic impacts are significant unless buildings could be repaired and ready for occupancy after a major earthquake. Nothing in CEQA, the cases interpreting it, or common sense compels such a conclusion. A less than significant impact does not necessarily mean no impact at all.”

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