California Environmental Quality Act

News & Analysis as of

CEQA Categorical Exemption Case Opinion Ordered Slightly Modified By Supreme Court; Berkeley Hillside Preservation Judgment Is...

On May 27, 2015, the California Supreme Court filed a 4-page order modifying portions of the majority and concurring opinions previously filed March 2, 2015, in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (2015) 60...more

Court Rules Planned Development of Banning Ranch May Proceed

In Banning Ranch Conservancy v. City of Newport Beach (filed 5/20/2015, No. G049691), the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, held the Environmental Impact Report prepared by the City of Newport Beach for the partial...more

Fourth District Holds CEQA Does Not Require City To Predict ESHA Determinations In Approving Project Over Which Coastal Commission...

In a published opinion filed May 20, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment granting mandate relief based on a general plan violation, affirmed its denial of relief under CEQA, and...more

California's Office of Planning and Research Releases Draft Technical Advisory for Formal Native American Consultations Under AB...

Comments on the Draft Advisory due by June 1 - The Office of Planning and Research released a Draft Advisory earlier this month entitled “Discussion Draft Technical Advisory: AB 52 and Tribal Cultural Resources in CEQA”...more

Sixth District Applies CEQA’s “Fair Argument” Standard, Holds That Despite Project’s Compliance With Local Noise Ordinance, EIR...

On May 7, 2015, the Sixth District Court of Appeal filed a published opinion addressing numerous issues of interest under CEQA’s “fair argument” test for preparing an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”). Keep Our Mountains...more

Court of Appeal Sinks Challenge to TMDL for Lake Bed Sediment

A Court of Appeal has upheld the Regional Board’s adoption of the total maximum daily load (TMDL) for concentration of pollutants in the sediment in McGrath Lake, rejecting the claim that TMDLs may not be stated in terms of...more

Appellate Court Reaffirms Broad Discretion of Trial Courts to Determine Appropriate Attorneys’ Fees

The Fourth Appellate District upheld the trial court’s award of less than 10% of the fees requested by the prevailing petitioner in a CEQA case, finding no abuse of the broad discretion accorded trial courts in awarding fees....more

Executive Order B-30-15 And CEQA GHG Analysis: Evolving Uncertainty At The Intersection Of Law, Policy And Science

I recall that Mike Zischke, co-author of CEB’s excellent CEQA treatise, used to be fond of saying the “normal” or “usual rules” for analyzing cumulative impacts should apply to analysis of a project’s greenhouse gas (GHG)...more

Recent Surface Transportation Board Preemption Decisions of Note

In the last several months, the Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board) has issued a number of decisions further defining the scope of federal preemption. As the primary agency tasked with the economic regulation of the...more

CEQA Judicial Outcomes: Fifteen Years of Reported California Appellate and Supreme Court Decisions

This report analyzes all published opinions from 1997 through 2012 litigated to the California Court of Appeal or the California Supreme Court concerning the analytical validity of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - April 2015 #4

Environmental and Policy Focus - California court rules tiered water pricing plan violates Prop 218: Allen Matkins - Apr 21: California's local water suppliers, hit with reduction requirements varying from 8 percent to...more

Football and the Future of CEQA for Popular Projects

In quick succession, the Southern California cities of Inglewood and Carson have used the initiative process to approve new NFL football stadiums in bids to lure teams to new homes, bypassing review under the California...more

Abuse of Discretion Not Shown By Court’s Failure To “Show Its Arithmetic” in Significantly Reducing Claimed Attorney Fees in CEQA...

In Save Our Uniquely Rural Community Environment v. County of San Bernardino, __ Cal.App.4th ___, 2015 WL 1259781 (4th Dist., Div. 2, 2015) (SOURCE) , the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision...more

Winners Beware – Fourth District Upholds Trial Court’s Discretion To Drastically Reduce Successful CEQA Plaintiff’s Fees In...

In an opinion filed March 18 and belatedly ordered published on April 13, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a trial court’s discretion to award only $19,176 in attorneys’ fees under Code of Civil Procedure §...more

Second District Holds First Tier CEQA Analysis Suffices For Regional Board’s Setting of Novel TMDL For Lake Bed Sediment

In a short published opinion, the Second District Court of Appeal rejected federal Clean Water Act, state Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act, and CEQA challenges to a regional board’s Basin Plan Amendment establishing a...more

Ruling Complicated Use of CEQA's Categorical Exemptions

Categorical exemptions from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, do not apply to projects involving a reasonable possibility of a significant effect on the environment due to unusual...more

Real Estate and Land Use - March 2015

Be Careful What You Agree To (City of San Marcos v. Loma San Marcos, LLC) - Why It matters: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court decision upholding an agreement between the City of San Marcos and a property owner...more

Is California Really Going to Mandate an 80% Reduction in Greenhouse Gases Below 1990 Levels by 2050?

The California Supreme Court has elevated the stakes even further on what has already developed into a critically important question for the future of greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation in the state. On March 11, 2015, the...more

CEQA Alert UPDATE: Petitions for Review Filed in Greenhouse Gas and ICCTA Preemption Cases

As previously reported, two decisions by California’s Fourth Appellate District in late 2014 highlighted CEQA compliance challenges facing local governments charged with implementing state and local greenhouse gas emissions...more

CEQA Review of Sacramento Kings Downtown Arena Project Held Legally Adequate In Published Third District Opinion

In a published opinion filed February 18, 2015, the Third District Court of Appeal rejected all legal challenges to the City of Sacramento’s EIR and CEQA compliance for approval of its new downtown entertainment and sports...more

Supreme Court Will Review CEQA Decision Invalidating SANDAG’s 2050 RTP

On March 11, 2015, the California Supreme Court granted the San Diego Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) petition for review of the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision in Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San...more

Work Done Under Unchallenged CEQA Emergency Exemption Held Part Of Existing Environment Baseline In Subsequent CEQA Challenge To...

In a decision filed January 29, and belatedly ordered published on February 18, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeal rejected numerous CEQA (and other) challenges to the City of San Diego’s regular, after-the-fact...more

California Supreme Court Issues CEQA Ruling Regarding Categorical Exemptions - The Practical Result of the Court's Decision Is...

The California Supreme Court issued its opinion in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (Case No. S201116), overturning the Court of Appeal and charting a course for the future application of categorical...more

CEQA “Common Sense” Exemption Upheld; Environmental Baseline for Project Following Improvements Pursuant to an Emergency Exemption...

CREED-21 v. City of San Diego (2/18/2015, 4th Civil No. D064186) - The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a CEQA exemption related to the City of San Diego’s approval of a project comprising emergency storm drainage...more

California Supreme Court Construes CEQA’s “Unusual Circumstances” Exception to Categorical Exemptions in Berkeley Hillside...

In a 46-page majority opinion written by Justice Chin and joined by four other justices, punctuated by an 18-page concurring opinion (by Justice Liu, joined by Justice Werdegar) which reads like a dissent, the California...more

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