News & Analysis as of

Court Clarifies "Taking" Of Endangered Species And Highlights What's "Enough" Under CEQA

In Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, No. B245141 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Mar. 20, 2014), the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision, which found that the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s...more

Some CEQA Reminders From The Third District: Urban Decay Requires Actual Mitigation When Identified By EIR As A Significant...

In a lengthy opinion filed February 28, 2014, and ordered partially published on April 1, 2014, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the Yolo County Superior Court’s judgment denying a CEQA writ petition challenging...more

City Fails to Adequately Mitigate "Urban Decay" and Energy Impacts of Big Box Retail Project

In the latest decision addressing challenges to "big box" projects under the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA"), on February 28, 2014, the California Court of Appeal invalidated the approval of a retail project in...more

Second District Addresses Interesting CEQA and CESA Species Mitigation Issues in Lengthy Partially Published Opinion Upholding...

In a lengthy, mostly published opinion filed on March 20, 2014, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment granting a writ of mandate, and upheld – as against state law challenges brought by a...more

Ruling May Put The Brakes On Some CEQA Investigations

For years, public agencies have utilized a statutory "right-of-entry" procedure to gain access to private property to conduct investigations and testing before deciding whether to move forward with a condemnation action....more

Specific Plan EIRs and Exemptions for Follow-On Actions

The 2013 legislative session began with high hopes that California’s landmark environmental law – the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – would be reformed. Developers, builders, and public agencies across the state...more

CEQA Requires CalTrans’ EIR to Separately Analyze Significance of Highway Project’s Impacts on Protected Old Growth Redwoods’ Root...

In a partially-published opinion filed January 30, 2014, the First District Court of Appeal, Division 3, reversed the trial court’s judgment denying a writ petition, and held that Caltrans must correct certain deficiencies in...more

CEQA Action Seeking to Avoid LAFCO Annexation and SOI Change Approvals is Dismissed for Failure to Comply with Procedural...

The lessons taught by the Fifth District Court of Appeal in its recently-published decision in Protect Agricultural Land v. Stanislaus County Local Agency Formation Commission (City of Ceres, RPI), ___ Cal.App.4th ___, 2014...more

Caltrans EIR Analysis of Impacts to Redwoods Found Inadequate

In Trisha Lee Lotus v. Caltrans (Jan. 30, 2014), the First District Court of Appeal reversed a Humboldt County Superior Court decision, and ruled that a California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) environmental impact...more

Court Tosses Challenge to Approval of Annexation and Change in Sphere of Influence

Court Decision Benefits Public Agencies and Land Developers Defending CEQA and LAFCO Challenges - A California appellate court confirmed that once a Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) approves an annexation or a...more

City Not Required to Analyze Impacts of Existing Soil Contamination

In Parker Shattuck Neighbors v. Berkeley City Council, the Court of Appeal determined that impacts from existing soil contamination on a project’s construction workers or future occupants was not an environmental impact under...more

Preparation of EIR Not Required for Ordinance Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags and Establishing Fee for Paper and Noncompostable...

After the City and County of San Francisco (“San Francisco”) enacted an ordinance expanding existing restrictions on the use of plastic shopping bags by retail establishments, an industry group that has filed several lawsuits...more

Contaminated but Remediated Soil and Cortese Listing Does Not Compel Preparation of EIR

As 2013 came to a close, the California court of appeal in Parker Shattuck Neighbors v. Berkeley City Council (1st Dist., Div. 4, 12/30/13, A136873) ___Cal.App.1st___, 2013, upheld the City of Berkeley’s decision not to...more

Vapor Intrusion Risk Insufficient to Trigger EIR for Urban Infill Project

In Parker Shattuck Neighbors, et al. v. Berkeley City Council, et. al. (First Appellate District, December 30, 2013) (“Shattuck Neighbors”), the court upheld the City of Berkeley’s approval of a mitigated negative declaration...more

“Bag It!” – Third Published CEQA “Bag Ban” Decision Upholds San Francisco’s Ordinance as Categorically Exempt While Slamming...

Plaintiff Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (Coalition) lost a third consecutive published appellate decision in its litigation campaign to require EIRs for virtually all local ordinances that ban or restrict the use of...more

City’s Decision to Not Prepare an EIR Upheld Under Substantial Evidence Standard

Earlier this month, in Latinos Unidos De Napa v. City of Napa, the California Court of Appeals upheld the city of Napa’s determination that it did not have to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) under the California...more

CEQA Year In Review 2013 - A Summary Of Published Appellate Opinions Under CEQA

INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW - The published court decisions in 2012 reflected a heightened recognition that CEQA does not require perfection, but rather a reasonable effort to provide environmental information that...more

New “Potentially Feasible” Alternative Does Not Trigger Draft EIR Recirculation Unless Considered “Significant New Information”;...

In South County Citizens for Smart Growth v. County of Nevada (3d Dist., 10/8/13 C067764) ____Cal.App.4th _____, 2013, the court of appeal rejected a claim that Nevada County violated CEQA by failing to recirculate an EIR...more

Application for State Funds Not A "Project" Under CEQA

In City of Irvine v. County of Orange (“City of Irvine”) (published and modified on November 22, 2013), the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the County of Orange’s (“County”) application...more

Minor General Plan Housing Element Update Does Not Require New EIR

In the interests of finality, the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) places limits on additional environmental review once a government agency has already completed environmental review for a project. After an...more

Public Interest in Renewable Energy May Outweigh the Purpose of the Williamson Act; Cancellation of Williamson Act Contracts May...

After a Central Valley county cancelled Williamson Act contracts on ranchland to make way for a solar energy plant, several environmental groups sued challenging the County’s decision. The trial court found against the...more

First District Rejects CEQA Challenge To City of Napa’s Reliance On Prior General Plan EIR For Housing Element Update Project

The EIR has long been the judicially-proclaimed “heart of CEQA” because it represents the culmination of the statute’s environmentally-protective purposes and objectives. Yet the legal “expiration date” for the document...more

Third District Holds CEQA Does Not Require Recirculation Based On Staff-Recommended Alternative Raised After Preparation of Final...

In a recent decision extensively analyzing and applying CEQA’s rules on alternatives analysis, recirculation, and a petitioner’s burden to show agency error, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the Nevada County...more

New Alternative Does Not Trigger Recirculation of Draft EIR Unless Considered "Significant New Information"

In South County Citizens for Smart Growth v. County of Nevada, the Third Appellate District held that South County Citizens for Smart Growth’s (“Smart Growth”) claim that the County of Nevada violated CEQA by failing to...more

Paper or Plastic? A Question for California's Courts

The California Environmental Quality Act, better known as “CEQA,” has proved to be fertile ground for the raising of legal challenges to public agency action throughout the state. Indeed, CEQA is without a doubt one of the...more

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