On October 1, 2014, the California Supreme Court granted the Real Party in Interest developer’s petition for review in Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (5th Dist. 2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 704, now unciteable and pending review as Supreme Court Case No. S219783. The significant portions of the Court of Appeal’s decision were previously summarized in detail several months ago in this blog. (See “Fifth District Decides Significant CEQA Air Quality/Health Impact Analysis and Mitigation Issues in the Sierra Club v. County of Fresno” by Arthur F. Coon, posted June 16, 2014.)
As indicated in my previous post, the Court of Appeal’s decision was lengthy and covered numerous issues of interest to CEQA and land use practitioners and their clients. Although it is not presently known which of these issues the high court will take up in its review, the Real Party’s petition requests clarification of the standard of review applicable to claims that an EIR includes insufficient information, discussion or analysis on an included topic (i.e., the development’s air quality impacts and how its quantified emissions “correlated” to adverse human health impacts) and the standard for assessing adequacy of mitigation measures adopted to reduce, but not eliminate, a project’s significant and unavoidable impacts. Numerous amici curiae – including the League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties, Building Industry Defense Foundation, Association of Environmental Professionals, and CEQA Research Council – filed letters in support of the petition for review.
The Supreme Court’s grant of review in the “Friant Ranch” case confirms its continuing interest and role as the primary engine of judicial CEQA reform. The high court currently has eight (8) CEQA cases under review and pending decision.