Second Quarter CEQA Case Law Update

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CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update

This update reports on the twelve California Environmental Quality Act decisions issued by  California courts in the second quarter of 2012, including one California Supreme Court decision.

The Supreme Court’s Tomlinson decision held that, if the lead agency holds a hearing or provide another opportunity to present claims, then petitioners must exhaust administrative remedies before challenging agency decisions based on categorical exemptions from CEQA. In another notable decision, City of Hayward v. Board of Trustees of the California State University, the First District Court of Appeal held that CEQA does not shift the burden of providing fire services from cities and counties to project proponents, and held that impacts to fire services are a social impact, not an environmental impact. The remaining cases also discussed several important CEQA topics, including the use of a future baseline, the contents of the administrative record in a CEQA case, and the ministerial nature of lot line adjustments.  

Also during the second quarter, the California Supreme Court granted review of two cases reported in previous updates.  First, the Court will review Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, a troublesome case reported in our First Quarter CEQA Case Law Update. Left standing, Berkeley Hillside would have dramatically increased the legal and litigation risk associated with the use of categorical exemptions. The Court also granted review of City of San Diego v. Board of Trustees of California State University, where the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that the California State University could not use budgetary uncertainty as a basis for determining that mitigation measures were infeasible.

Just prior to the mailing of this Update, the California Supreme Court took action on two of the cases reported below.  First the Court granted review of the decision in Neighbors for Smart Rail, so the Court will be reconsidering environmental baseline issues as it hears that case.  Second, the Court depublished the decision in Jamulians Against the Casino.

Cases in this issue:

Tomlinson v. County of Alameda

Sierra Club v. Napa County Board of Supervisors

Salmon Protection and Watershed Network v. County of Marin

Citizens for Local Government v. City of Lodi

Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority

Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District

Consolidated Irrigation District v. Superior Court

Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions v. City of Healdsburg

Jamulians Against the Casino v. Iwasaki

Van de Kamps Coalition v. Board of Trustees of Los Angeles Community College District (City of Los Angeles)

City of Hayward v. Board of Trustees of the California State University

W.M. Barr & Co., Inc. v. South Coast Air Quality Management Dist.

Download Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP's 2012 Second Quarter CEQA Case Law Update Newsletter.


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