CEQA Administrative Records: Fifth District Opinion Elucidates Rules Governing Contents and Disputes

Miller Starr Regalia
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The proper content of CEQA administrative records is frequently a subject of intense dispute in CEQA litigation, resulting in partial certifications by agencies, and motions to strike and augment by various parties. In a recent case addressing a number of other interesting CEQA topics, the Fifth District Court of Appeals devoted a significant portion of its published opinion to administrative record issues, in order to “provide guidance to practitioners in subsequent cases so that they will proceed more efficiently in the expenditure of their own time and that of the courts.” (Madera Oversight Coalition, Inc. v. County of Madera (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 48, 61.)

The Court prefaced its “discussion of the rules of law concerning administrative records” by positing a two-step inquiry for determining the admissibility of evidence in general in CEQA cases: (1) is the item in question part of the administrative record pursuant to Public Resources Code, § 21167.6(e)? and (2) if not, is the item admissible under the rules applicable to extra-record evidence? (Id. at 62.)

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