Ballona Wetlands Land Trust v. City of Los Angeles (2011) 201 Cal. App. 4th 455

May 22nd, 2012

By: Thomas Law Group



In a 2004 case, the Superior Court, through directions from the Court of Appeal, issued the City of Los Angeles (City) a writ of mandate, invalidating its EIR because the City failed to comply with CEQA. In 2010, the City certified a Revised EIR (REIR). Petitioner filed a new petition for a writ of mandate challenging the new EIR, in particular the newly included climate change impacts analysis. The Superior Court discharged the writ. Petitioner appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal, which upheld the lower court’s decision. First, in rejecting Petitioner’s claims relating to sea level rise, the Court held CEQA did not require the revised EIR to analyze sea level rise impacts on the project because “identifying the effects [of the environment] on the project and its users [caused by] locating the project in a particular environmental setting is neither consistent with CEQA’s legislative purpose nor required by the CEQA statutes.” Second, in regard to the EIR’s analysis of impacts to archaeological resources, the Court held that REIR sufficiently considered reasonable mitigation measures for the project’s archaeological resources impacts. Third, the Court declined to address the Petitioner’s newly alleged issues because the issues were not raised in the 2004 case. Lastly, the Court upheld the Superior Court’s decision to award the City and developer costs as the prevailing party on the return to the writ.

Key Points:

The Supreme Court extended the time to grant review of Ballona Wetlands. The appellate court’s holding that CEQA does not require a lead agency to evaluate the impact of the environment on a project, while consistent with the holding in both Baird v. County of Contra Costa (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 1464 and South Orange County Wastewater Authority v. City of Dana Point (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1604, is controversial. Whether or not the Supreme Court addresses this question by reviewing Ballona Wetlands, we anticipate the Supreme Court will address this issue in the future.