When Does a Development Proposal Become a "Project"?


In an effort to provide and promote housing, the City of West Hollywood (?City?) approved a conditional agreement that would pave the way for conveyance of City-owned property to be redeveloped for a 35-unit, affordable housing project for seniors called ?Laurel Place?. Today, the California Supreme Court held that this agreement violated the California Environmental Quality Act (?CEQA?) because the City failed to complete an environmental impact report (?EIR?) before entering into that conditional agreement. The case, Save Tara v. City of West Hollywood (Waset, Inc., et al., Real Parties in Interest), S151402 (October 30, 2008), clarifies when a proposal becomes a ?project? and how soon in the process a governmental agency must initiate CEQA compliance. In reaching its decision, the Court adopted the general principle that ?before conducting CEQA review, agencies must not take any action that significantly furthers a project in a manner that forecloses alternatives or mitigation measures that would ordinarily be part of CEQA review of that public project.? (Slip Op. 26.)

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