Positive CEQA decision for developers

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 16, 2010 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On April 1st, the California State Supreme Court sided with California Building Industry Association attorneys establishing that opponents of development projects must adhere to time limits for filing lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The Court overruled appellate and trial court rulings in the case and sided with the City of Stockton, maintaining that the City was clearly upholding CEQA statute of limitations.

The City had established that a project, Wal-Mart, was consistent with prior approvals that had been evaluated under CEQA.  The City posted a “notice of exemption” under CEQA which stated a 35-day period for bringing lawsuits.  The Court also agreed with Stockton city attorneys that the CEQA “notice of exemption” itself was adequate to trigger the 35-day period.

After the 35 days had expired, environmentalists challenged the CEQA approval of the superstore project (part of a larger developmental project). This is a common tactic used by “no–growth” advocates: Challenging CEQA project decisions multiple times in the process, long after the deadlines, asserting that certain considerations were not evaluated, making the CEQA approval flawed and invalid.  Such challenges have delayed or stopped projects already underway after millions of dollars have been spent.  Many times developers walk away from their projects or settle out of court with the environmental groups.

These decisions are positive for developers and will help to maintain some degree of certainty in the CEQA process.

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