California Environmental Quality Act Appeals

News & Analysis as of

Second District Rejects CEQA And Fair Transit Hearing Challenges To LA Metro’s Westside Subway Extension Project In Lengthy...

In a 65-page opinion certified for publication and filed October 22, 2015, the Second Appellate District Court of Appeal affirmed the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s judgment denying writ petitions by the City of Beverly...more

Land Use Matters: Alston & Bird LLP, October 2015

At its October 27, 2015, meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to create a new dedicated Affordable Housing Program budget unit and approved setting aside $100 million for the creation and operation of both...more

First District Applies CEQA Exhaustion/Standing Rules, Upholds Judgment Rejecting Claim of Statutory Exemption for Controversial...

In a published decision filed September 17, 2015, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment granting a writ of mandate and finding that a proposed land exchange agreement was not statutorily...more

State Lands Commission Land Exchanges Not Exempt from CEQA Review Absent a Title or Boundary Dispute; Actual Notice Doesn’t...

In Defend Our Waterfront v. California State Lands Commission (Sept. 17, 2015) __Cal.App.4th __, Case Nos. A141696 & A141697, the California Court of Appeal for the First District upheld the trial court’s grant of a petition...more

Back To The Chalk Board: School District’s Math Fails To Justify CEQA Categorical Exemption For School Closures

In a published opinion filed September 2, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeal (Division 2) reversed the trial court’s judgment denying a writ petition challenging a school district’s determination that its closure of...more

California Supreme Court Holds that State Agencies May Not Escape CEQA Mitigation Requirements Based on Failure of the Legislature...

In a decision that enhances the ability of local interests to obtain mitigation funds from state agencies, the California Supreme Court held that the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") requires the Board of...more

Fourth District Holds Losing CEQA Plaintiff’s Mooted Appeal Was Not “Catalyst” To City’s Revocation Of Project Entitlements After...

In an opinion filed June 8, and ordered published on July 6, 2015, the Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment denying a CEQA plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees under CCP § 1021.5,...more

A CEQA Trustee Agency “Muscles Up”: Third District Holds Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Newly Exercised Power To Require Notice...

Under CEQA, a “trustee agency” is a “state agency having jurisdiction by law over natural resources affected by a project which are held in trust for the people of the State of California” and “[t]he California Department of...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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Not Unusual: California Supreme Court Declines to Expand “Unusual Circumstances” Exception to CEQA Categorical Exemptions

In an important and highly anticipated decision under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the California Supreme Court overturned a Court of Appeal’s decision that would have severely limited public agencies’...more

CEQA Update: Three New Court of Appeal Decisions Issued; Key Supreme Court Rulings Expected (and the Sacramento Kings are on a...

2015 is shaping up to be another active year for CEQA judicial review. After taking an extended holiday break, the Courts of Appeal have recently published three decisions, two of which reinforce existing case law on how to...more

Third District Rejects CEQA Challenge To Program EIR For California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Statewide Fish...

In a lengthy published decision filed February 10, 2015, and addressing consolidated appeals in three related actions, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment rejecting petitioner and appellant...more

CEQA Roundup – Recent Developments

Numerous CEQA-related developments have recently been in the news. Some of possible interest include: Kings and Kern Counties, the Kings County Farm Bureau, and a number of other groups filed a petition on February 9 with the...more

Undisclosed Change in Building Height Requires Supplemental EIR

Ventura Foothill Neighbors v. County of Ventura (12/15/14, 2d Civil No. B254120) - The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District of California has ruled that (i) a 20% increase in the actual height of a...more

California Supreme Court To Resolve Appellate Court Split on Federal Preemption in Railroad Regulation

On December 10, 2014, the California Supreme Court granted petition for review in Friends of the Eel River v. North Coast Railroad Authority to resolve a split between the First and Third District Courts of Appeal. (230...more

SANDAG Seeks Review of CEQA Decision Invalidating EIR for Its Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy

On January 6, 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review the decision in Cleveland National Forest Foundation, et al. v. San Diego Association at...more

San Diego MPO's Analysis Of RTP's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rejected

In a decision with implications for all transportation projects in California, the California Court of Appeal held that the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation projects in a metropolitan transportation...more

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