Mitigation Measures to Combat "Urban Decay" Must Require Actual Implementation

California Clean Energy Committee v. City of Woodland

(2014) 225 Cal.App.4th

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, recently invalidated an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) because a City’s mitigation measures for urban decay failed to require any actual mitigation or include any mitigation standards.

This case involved a large development project in Northern California for retail and commercial uses (the “Project”). Because of the Project’s size, the EIR addressed the Project’s anticipated impacts on urban decay, that is, impacts on the economic health and physical integrity of the City’s downtown area. The EIR included five urban decay mitigation measures.

A non-profit group (the “Group”) challenged the adequacy of the mitigation measures addressing the Project’s impact on urban decay. The Group argued the EIR was inadequate because many of the mitigation measures simply required future studies and evaluations, but did not require actual mitigation or specify how the mitigation measures were to be implemented.

The Court agreed and stated that CEQA required the EIR to include specific mitigation measures with specific implementation standards. For example, one mitigation measure required the developer to submit a market study and an urban decay analysis at the time of future applications for site-specific development. The Court found this inadequate because, among other reasons, it did not commit the City to any specific mitigation action and did not include any standards to determine whether future mitigation action was required.

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Categories: Articles, CEQA