CEQA Case Summaries


In This Publication:

Is it a Project?/Project Description

Friends of Juana Briones House v. City of Palo Alto, 190 Cal.App.4th 286 (2010)

This case involved a long-running dispute starting in 1988 regarding the renovation and rehabilitation of the Juana Briones House and, ultimately, the right to demolish the house. The house had been designated by the City of Palo Alto as an historic landmark.....

Communities for a Better Environment v. City of Richmond, 184 Cal.App.4th 70 (2010)

In another long-running dispute, the plaintiffs sued the City of Richmond for its approval of a project proposed by Chevron that would allow its Richmond refinery to increase production of gasoline....

California Oak Foundation v. Regents of University of California, 188 Cal.App.4th 227 (2010)

This case involved the infamous tree sitters in the oak trees outside of Memorial Stadium on the UC Berkeley campus. The plaintiffs challenged the adequacy of the EIR on many grounds. This summary focuses on the claim that the project description was inadequate and that the statement of project objectives was defective.....

Environmental Setting (Baseline)

Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast Air Quality Management District, 48 Cal. 4th 310 (2010)

In this case involving modifications to an existing refinery, the California Supreme Court ruled that an agency failed to comply with CEQA in using maximum permitted operational levels as the baseline instead of the actual physical conditions (less than permitted levels) at the time of the analysis...

Cherry Valley Pass Acres and Neighbors v. City of Beaumont, 190 Cal.App.4th 316 (2010)

The Court of Appeal here upheld the use of an adjudicated water supply allocation as the baseline for water supply analysis and CEQA purposes, even though water use at the subject property had for several years before project approval been far below the adjudicated level.....

Sunnyvale West Neighborhood Assn. v. City of Sunnyvale, 190 Cal.App.4th 1351 (2010)

In an EIR for a road extension project designed to alleviate congestion, the City’s EIR used as the environmental baseline the traffic conditions that were projected to exist in the year 2020 assuming growth forecast by the City’s General Plan and growth projected for the surrounding area. Such a future baseline was apparently consistent with the regional transportation authority’s guidelines.....

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Case Law

In the first reported CEQA decision addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,2 the Court of Appeal struck down an EIR for a refinery project based on, among other grounds, the impermissible deferral of mitigation of GHG emissions. Communities for a Better Environment v. City of Richmond, 184 Cal.App.4th 70 (2010)....

Amendments to the CEQA Guidelines

The new CEQA Guidelines (effective March 18, 2010) make clear that an analysis of GHG emissions is generally required in an environmental document prepared under CEQA. See, e.g., CEQA Guidelines § 15064.4(a) (“A lead agency should make a good-faith effort, based to the extent possible on scientific and factual data, to describe, calculate or estimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from a project.”).3....

Bay Area Air Quality Management District GHG Standards

On June 2, 2010, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) became the first regulatory agency in the nation to adopt guidelines that establish thresholds for GHG emissions...

Water Supply

Center for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino, 185 Cal.App.4th 866 (2010)

The major issue in Center for Biological Diversity is whether the development of an open air human waste composting facility of 160 acres meets the definition of a “project” under Cal. Water Code § 10912(a) such that a Water Supply Assessment is required for an adequate analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act....

Watsonville Pilots Assn. v. City of Watsonville, 183 Cal.App.4th 1059 (2010)

This case involved a challenge by the Watsonville Pilots Association to the approval of a General Plan for the City of Watsonville that included the location of an approximately 2,500-unit development near the end of the runway at the Watsonville Airport....

Please see full Case Summary for more information and case law.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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