The following listing of published cases is available for review on the AEP CEQA Portal for the first half of 2023.
COURT PROCEEDING CASES
Christopher Durkin v. City and County of San Francisco, et al. (Philip Kaufman, Real Party in Interest) (April 14, 2023)
As a result of litigation challenging the City’s project denial, a neighboring owner/project opponent filed an anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) motion to strike the petition. The trial court granted the anti-SLAPP motion and ultimately awarded attorneys’ fees. The First District reversed the decision.
Friends of Oceano Dunes, et al. v. California Coastal Commission, et al. (April 20, 2023)
This case involved litigation challenging on CEQA and Coastal Act grounds the Coastal Commission’s amendment of a coastal development permit for the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision denying a motion to intervene filed by interested nonparties.
Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods v. The Regents of the University of California, et al (May 19, 2023)
The First District Court of Appeal vacated the trial court’s order granting a writ directing the University of California’s Regents to decertify a 2018 Supplemental EIR for a campus development project and to suspend increases in student enrollment pending CEQA compliance. The Court held it was largely mooted by the Regents’ certification of a 2021 EIR and the passage of CEQA amendments under SB 118.
Tulare Lake Canal Company v. Stratford Public Utility District (Sandridge Partners, L.P., et al., Real Parties in Interest) (June 7, 2023)
The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the trial court, which denied the preliminary injunction, and remanded the matter to the trial court for reconsideration.
PROJECTS SUBJECT TO CEQA/EXEMPTIONS CASES
Save Livermore Downtown v. City of Livermore (January 26, 2023)
The First District Court of Appeal upheld the City of Livermore’s approval of a 130-unit affordable housing project on a downtown infill site and its accompanying determination that the project was exempt under Government Code Section 65457.
Arcadians for Environmental Preservation v. City of Arcadia (Julie Wu, et al., Real Parties in Interest) (February 16, 2023)
In litigation challenging the approval of a single-family home expansion project, the Second District Court of Appeal concurred with a trial court decision that denied a CEQA writ petition. The Court held that the objections made by a member of petitioners during the administrative proceedings were not specific enough for litigation.
Committee to Relocate Marilyn v. City of Palm Springs (PS Resorts, Real Party in Interest) (February 23, 2023)
The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a judgment of dismissal of the trial court of a case challenging a City’s street closure project. The Court held that even though the petition alleging CEQA violations was filed more than 35 days after the City filed a notice of exemption, it was not time barred, because the City subsequently changed the project.
Los Angeles Waterkeeper v. State Water Resources Control Board (February 27, 2023, and June 2, 2023)
The Second District Court of Appeal found that Public Resources Code Section 21002 has force only to the extent that a lead agency otherwise is obligated to prepare an EIR and that the (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System–equivalent) wastewater discharge permits at issue are exempt from the EIR requirement.
Robinson v. Superior Court of Kern County (March 2, 2023)
The Fifth District Court of Appeal held that where no governmental approvals were required, an investor-owned public utility was not required to comply with CEQA before exercising its eminent domain power.
Pacific Palisades Residents Association, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (Rony Shram, et al., Real Parties in Interest) (March 8, 2023)
The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment in a lawsuit challenging approval of a CEQA-exempt eldercare facility project in Pacific Palisades located in the City of Los Angeles. The Court found that there was substantial evidence supporting the City’s consistency determination with the applicable general plan and zoning and that the project was categorically exempt from CEQA review under the CEQA Guidelines’ Class 32 infill exemption (CEQA Guidelines Section 15332).
Coalition for Historical Integrity v. City of San Buenaventura (June 8, 2023)
The Second District Court of Appeal upheld the City of San Buenaventura’s decision to remove a bronze statue of Father Junipero Serra from its location in front of City Hall. The Court noted that the statutory presumption of historical significance can be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence. The Court found that the City’s report constituted substantial evidence supporting the City’s determination.
Gregory Lucas v. City of Pomona (June 13, 2023)
The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision rejecting CEQA challenges to the City of Pomona’s use of an exemption under Public Resources Code Section 21083.3(a) and 21083.3(b) and CEQA Guidelines Section 15183. This exemption was used for the City’s adoption of a zoning overlay district allowing commercial cannabis activities.
Make UC a Good Neighbor v. Regents of University of California (Resources for Community Development, Real Party in Interest) (February 24, 2023)
The First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court decision upholding the adequacy of the EIR for the University of California, Berkeley’s long-range campus development plan and a controversial housing development project at the historic People’s Park. The decision addresses the adequacy of the alternatives analysis, project description adequacy, and noise.
East Oakland Stadium Alliance, et al. v. City of Oakland, et al. (Athletics Investment Group, et al., Real Parties in Interest) (March 30, 2023)
The First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment, which upheld the EIR for the Oakland Waterfront Ballpark District Project with the exception of its wind mitigation measure.
County of Butte and County of Plumas, et al. v. Dept. of Water Resources (April 7, 2023)
The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the finding that an EIR for the federal relicensing of Oroville Dam and related hydropower facilities was legally adequate. Key issues addressed in this case include climate change and water resources.
Preservation Action Council of San Jose v. City of San Jose (SJ Cityview, LLC, Real Party in Interest) (May 10, 2023)
The Sixth District Court of Appeal upheld the City of San Jose’s certification of a final Supplemental EIR for development of three high-rise office towers on a site containing several historic structures, which would be demolished.
The Claremont Canyon Conservancy v. The Regents of the University of California/Hills Conservation Network v. Carol T. Christ (June 9, 2023)
The First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment and upheld the adequacy of the University of California (UC) Regents’ EIR for vegetation removal actions planned to occur on approximately 800 acres of land on UC Berkeley’s campus.
SUBSEQUENT/SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW CASES
IBC Business Owners for Sensible Development v. City of Irvine (Gemdale 2400 Barranca Holdings, LLC, Real Party in Interest) (February 6, 2023)
In a case involving an addendum, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court decision setting aside an addendum to a 2010 program EIR. The Court held that the addendum and associated substantial evidence did not support the conclusion that the project’s greenhouse gas emissions were within the scope of the program EIR and would have a less-than-significant impact. The Court also determined that the project was large and dense and did not qualify for the Class 32 infill exemption (under CEQA Guidelines Section 15332), because it involved unusual circumstances.