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Administrative Record Posts


FIFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT HOLDS REAL PARTY IN INTEREST CAN RECOVER COST OF PREPARING RECORD AFTER REIMBURSING THE LEAD AGENCY

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

The City of Ceres approved the development of a 300,000 sq. ft. shopping center anchored by a 190,000 sq. ft. Wal-Mart Supercenter to replace an existing Wal-Mart store after an extensive environmental review process. Citizens for Ceres (Citizens) filed a petition for writ of mandate pursuant to CEQA, alleging several defects in the environmental documents the City certified when it approved the project. The trial court denied the petition and Citizens appealed.

After prevailing in the trial court Wal-Mart, as the real party in interest, filed a memorandum of costs in which it requested, among other things, an award against Citizens of $48,889.71 for the cost of preparing the administrative record. Wal-Mart incurred these costs because the City required Wal-Mart to reimburse the City’s costs to have outside counsel prepare the record. The trial court struck this item from Wal-Mart’s memorandum of costs and Wal-Mart filed a separate appeal.

In a partially published opinion, Citizens for Ceres v. City of Ceres, 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 759, the Fifth Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s denial of Citizens’ petition for writ of mandate, and reversed as to Wal-Mart’s appeal on the cost of preparing the administrative record.

In the unpublished portion of the opinion, the Court rejected Citizens’ CEQA claims that: (1) the EIR certified by the city did not mandate adequate mitigation measures for the urban decay impact of the project; (2) the EIR did not sufficiently analyze the project’s impacts on landfill and recycling facilities and did not mandate adequate mitigation measures for those impacts; (3) the EIR failed to contain adequate information correlating the project’s air pollution impacts with resulting effects on human health; and (4) the City’s statement of overriding considerations was not supported by substantial evidence.

The Court then addressed Citizens’ motion to tax costs. Wal-Mart argued that the trial court erred when it applied Hayward Area Planning v. City of Hayward (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 176 (Hayward) to bar an award of costs to Wal-Mart for preparation of the administrative record. The Court agreed, explaining that Code of Civil Procedure section 1032 states that a prevailing party is “entitled” to a cost award “as a matter of right” in “any action or proceeding,” except “as otherwise expressly provided by statute.” While Public Resources Code section 21167.6 requires an agreement with the petitioner before an agency can delegate record preparation to a real party, as stated in Hayward, the Court held that an agreement with the petitioner was not required where a real party covers an agency’s costs after the record has been prepared by the agency.

Key Point: Prevailing real parties in interest in CEQA matters may recover costs associated with the preparation of an administrative record where it reimburses an agency’s costs after the record has been prepared by the agency.

COURT OF APPEAL EXTENDS CEQA HOLDING ON RECORD PREPARATION LABOR COSTS TO OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD CASES

Monday, August 1st, 2016

After successfully defending a challenge to a resolution granting nonconforming use status to a mining operation in Santa Clara County, Respondent’s attorney filed a motion to recover costs associated with the preparation of the administrative record. This included the labor costs for the attorneys and paralegals who had assisted with the preparation of the large and complex record. Respondent was not otherwise entitled to recover attorney’s fees, and Petitioner argued that to grant these fees in the context of labor costs would be the equivalent of granting attorney’s fees.

While the trial court found that there was good reason to grant the costs due to the complexity of the record, it ultimately denied the motion because there was no appellate legal authority on point. In No Toxic Air v. Lehigh Southwest Cement Co., 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 624, the Court of Appeal provided that authority by extending CEQA precedent to other proceedings that involve an administrative record.

In the CEQA context, this issue was definitively decided in Otay Ranch, L.P. v. County of San Diego (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 60,where the court ruled that the prevailing party could recover the labor costs of attorneys and paralegals in the creation of the administrative record as long as the labor costs were reasonably and necessarily incurred. To hold otherwise, the court stated, would undermine the statutory policy of shifting the costs and expenses of preparing the administrative record.

Here, the Sixth District held that the same reasoning used in Otay Ranch applied in other cases in which an administrative record was prepared. Accordingly, the Court held that labor costs for attorneys and paralegals to prepare the administrative record are recoverable as expenses under Code of Civil Procedure, section 1094.5, subdivision (a).

Key Point: A prevailing party can recover the labor costs of attorneys and paralegals in the creation of the administrative record, even in non-CEQA administrative mandamus cases, as long as the labor costs were reasonably and necessarily incurred.

Appellate Court Upholds EIR for Fresno County Mining Project

Monday, January 26th, 2015

In a partially published opinion in Friends of the Kings River v. County of Fresno (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 105, the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth District affirmed the denial of a writ of mandate challenging Fresno County’s (the County) environmental review of a 1,500-acre aggregate mine project.

The County initially approved the environmental impact report (EIR) for the mine in the Sierra Nevada foothills near the towns of Sanger and Reedley in October 2012. Petitioner subsequently appealed the County’s decision to the State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB) alleging violations of the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA). The SMGB granted the petition and remanded the reclamation plan for the site back to the County. In August 2013, the County adopted a revised reclamation plan and approved an addendum to the EIR in compliance with SMARA. Petitioner appealed to the SMGB a second time, but the SMGB upheld the County’s approval of the project.

While the first SMGB appeal was pending, petitioner also filed a petition for writ of mandate in Fresno County Superior Court.  The trial court rejected petitioner’s challenges under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and SMARA.

On appeal, Petitioner argued there was no project for the County to approve because the SMGB’s remand invalidated the reclamation plan. In rejecting petitioner’s argument, the court explained an administrative agency’s authority is limited to powers provided by statute. Under SMARA, the SMGB does not have authority to nullify a lead agency’s decision—the SMGB only has authority to remand for reconsideration or in limited circumstances take over as lead agency.  Accordingly, the SMGB actions had no effect on the County’s certification of the EIR or its approval of the project.  For this reason, all evidence related to the County’s reconsideration of the reclamation plan post-dated certification of the EIR and was not admissible for purposes of evaluating petitioner’s CEQA claims.

The court also rejected petitioner’s argument that the County violated CEQA by failing to adequately mitigate for the loss of 600 acres of farmland. The three mitigation measures recommended by the County included 1) continuing agricultural use of the land up until mining begins; 2) requiring 602 acres be maintained as an agriculture buffer zone for the life of the project; and 3) requiring used mining areas be reclaimed to farmland throughout the project. Still, petitioner contended the County was required to establish permanent agriculture conservation easements (ACEs). The court held that while ACEs may mitigate direct loss of farmland, ACEs are not required by CEQA in all cases where they are economically feasible.  Rather, here the County considered the use of ACEs along with other mitigation measures and selected the three measures listed above.  The court declined to require the County to mandate ACEs instead of the measures it chose.

In the unpublished portions of the opinion, the court held the trial court did not err by ruling on the writ petition, and petitioner could not raise a new SMARA claim for the first time on appeal. The court also rejected other various challenges to the EIR under CEQA.

KEY POINT

When a project presents a loss of farmland, CEQA does not require permanent agriculture conservation easements (ACEs) in every situation where ACEs are feasible. Rather, ACEs are just one mitigation measure that lead agencies should consider to mitigate a project’s impact.

Costs for Preparing Administrative Record May Include Attorney and Paralegal Labor

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

In a partially published opinion in Otay Ranch, L.P. v. County of San Diego, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 875, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District affirmed the trial court’s decision to allow San Diego County to recover the reasonable costs charged by outside counsel to prepare the administrative record for a mandamus proceeding.

The petitioners alleged the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Health and Safety Code by approving a remediation plan for a skeet shooting range in Chula Vista, relying on a mitigated negative declaration.

The petitioners initially prepared the administrative record themselves, but when the petitioners produced a substantially deficient record, the county elected to take over record preparation. The petitioners did not object and did not challenge its obligation to pay the record costs. The county subsequently retained outside counsel to assist in preparing the 18,000-page administrative record. The day after the complete record was served on the petitioners, they dismissed the entire action.

The trial court thereafter awarded the county $37,528.14 in costs for preparing the record, which included $30,435 for attorney and paralegal time spent preparing the record, and $7,093.14 in copies and other associated costs to produce the document.  The petitioners did not challenge the cost of copies and production, but contended the amounts charged for attorney and paralegal time amounted to an award of attorney fees impermissible under CEQA or the Health and Safety Code. The court stated that Public Resources Code section 21167.6 requires payment of any reasonable costs or fees associated with preparing the record, and petitioners had the burden of establishing the trial court abused its discretion and “exceeded the bounds of reason” in determining whether the cost was reasonable and necessary.

The court held that, due to the complexity and history of the project, it was not unreasonable for the county to retain outside counsel to assist in preparing the administrative record. The costs of preparing the record were not improper attorney’s fees just because a law firm provided the labor. Petitioners are required to pay the “actual costs” and because the county did not have the resources or experienced personnel to prepare the record, it was not unreasonable for the county to retain lawyers and paralegals with the “specialized knowledge” to assist.

KEY POINT

Preparation of the administrative record in a mandamus action can require specialized knowledge given the complex nature of CEQA litigation. Accordingly, a trial court has discretion to allow recovery of attorney and paralegal labor as part of the actual costs of preparing the administrative record when the costs are reasonably necessary.

Court Publishes General Plan Consistency Discussion in Case Upholding San Francisco Redevelopment Project

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

On September 4, 2014, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth District granted a request to publish an additional portion of the recent case San Francisco Tomorrow v. City & County of San Francisco, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 800. The previously published opinion affirmed the City and County of San Francisco’s approval of a redevelopment project near Lake Merced in southwest San Francisco. The court held the San Francisco General Plan contained adequate information regarding population density and building intensity for the project and the project was approved with adequate notice. The court also held that the trial court did not err by including transcripts of hearings in the administrative record that were not considered by the Board of Supervisors prior to certification of the EIR.  

In the newly published portion of the opinion, the court addressed Petitioners’ argument that the project was not consistent with the priority policies in the General Plan. Petitioners contended that the City was required to make detailed findings of consistency with the General Plan, rather than the general compatibility findings relied on by the City. The court rejected Petitioners’ argument and held that such specificity was not required.  According to the court, the City’s municipal code allowed the City to weigh and balance priority policies and the City did not abuse its discretion in determining the project was consistent with the General Plan. 

A complete summary of the case is available here: http://www.thomaslaw.com/blog/appellate-court-rejects-challenges-redevelopment-project-san-francisco-neighborhood/.

Appellate Court Rejects Challenges to Redevelopment Project in San Francisco Neighborhood

Friday, August 29th, 2014

In a partially published opinion in San Francisco Tomorrow v. City and County of San Francisco, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 735, the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District upheld denial of a petition for a writ of mandate seeking to overturn approval of a 152-acre redevelopment project near Lake Merced in southwest San Francisco.

The Parkmerced Project involves major modifications to an existing 3,221-unit residential and rental complex containing a mix of 13-story towers and 2-story townhouses. The long-term, mixed-use redevelopment project would demolish the townhouses and add 5,679 residential units over a period of 20 to 30 years. San Francisco Tomorrow and Parkmerced Action Coalition (Petitioners) opposed the project and sought to reverse the trial court’s denial of their petition.

Petitioners first challenged the San Francisco General Plan itself, arguing it did not include adequate standards for population density and building intensity as required by Government Code section 65302. The court emphasized that adoption of a general plan is a legislative act entitled to deference. The court further noted that under section 65302, the City was only required to include recommended densities, rather than inflexible limits as Petitioners contended. The General Plan’s Housing Element included multiple maps, tables, and an index that together provided the required population density information. Similarly, the Urban Design Element incorporated a map with maximum dimensions and heights of buildings in different parts of the city, including the Parkmerced area. The court concluded that a reasonable person could use these elements to determine the population density and building intensity impacts of the project.     

Second, Petitioners claimed that their due process rights as Parkmerced tenants were violated because the project was approved without adequate notice. However, only adjudicative decisions are subject to due process considerations, and the court found the project involved only legislative decisions not subject to due process. Petitioners argued that the development agreement approved as part of the project was an entitlement and thus not a law of general applicability, despite its characterization in statute as a legislative action. The court rejected this “novel” argument. The approval was indisputably a legislative act and no due process rights were attached to the action.

Finally, the court rejected Petitioners’ claim that the trial court erred by including transcripts of hearings in the administrative record that were not considered by the Board of Supervisors prior to certification of the EIR. The transcripts were from advisory committee hearings held prior to the Board’s decision and the transcripts were readily available to decision-makers. Accordingly, the court held the transcripts were properly part of the record.   

The court declined to publish portions of the opinion challenging compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and consistency with “priority policies” in the General Plan.

KEY POINT

The court distinguished a decision from the Fifth Appellate District, which considered whether an agency was required to include transcripts of hearings in the record.  In Consolidated Irrigation Dist. v. Superior Court (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 697, the court found that the agency was not compelled to produce transcripts for the record where the agency had not prepared them for several hearings and therefore could not produce such documents. Here, the transcripts were readily available and thus properly included in the record.

Appellate Court Upholds County’s Authority to Require Deposit for Costs of Certifying Administrative Record After the Petitioner Elects to Prepare the Administrative Record

Friday, June 6th, 2014

In an unpublished decision in Mt. Shasta Tomorrow v. County of Siskiyou 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3445, the Third Appellate District upheld a trial court’s decision affirming Siskiyou County’s authority to require a deposit for the estimated cost of certifying the administrative record and denying a waiver request by the petitioner for the costs of the certification.

In the case, Mt. Shasta Tomorrow (MST) challenged Siskiyou County’s (the County) adoption of a zoning ordinance increasing various a CEQA petitioner to provide a deposit for the County’s estimated costs of preparing and certifying the administrative record. MST elected to prepare the administrative record and submit it to the County for certification pursuant to Public Resources Code, section 21167.6. While MST submitted the administrative record to the county for certification, MST did not pay the certification costs and ultimately asked for a waiver for the costs.

MST first argued that it was not required to pay any of the costs related to the administrative record because payment of a deposit for certifying the record conflicted with the CEQA rule awarding costs to the party that prevails at trial. However, the court noted that MST was confusing the issues between the award of costs to the prevailing party after the trial and the costs required to certify the record before litigation. CEQA explicitly provides that when the petitioner elects to prepare the record itself, as MST did in this case, the record is subject to certification and review by the agency and the petitioner is responsible for the costs of that review. (§ 21167.6, subd. (b).) The County’s costs to certify the record are incurred before trial, which is necessary to ensure an accurate record for a proper determination on the merits. In contrast, the costs of the prevailing party are determined after the trial, and are thus an entirely separate issue from the pretrial costs. As a result, it was proper for the County to require payment of the probable costs of certification and preparation of the record.

MST also contended that the $1,955.54 deposit required by the County was unreasonable. The County provided declarations detailing the time required to certify the record, and MST only referred to the costs of certification in other cases to refute the County’s estimate. The court reviewed the trial court’s decision under an abuse of discretion standard and found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it implicitly found that the costs were reasonable. The fact that the estimated costs of certification might end up being higher than the ultimate costs was not enough to find that the trial court abused its discretion. MST even stipulated to pay the deposit at one point in the proceedings and only later argued the costs were unreasonable. Therefore, the court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the costs to certify the record were reasonable.

MST also raised a policy argument that requiring payment of costs by the petitioner violated CEQA because it deterred public participation in the environmental review process. However, the court stated that the legislature rather than a court was the proper venue for such an argument. The legislature established that the challenger must pay to have the record prepared and certified and the court did not have the authority to hold otherwise.

Lastly, MST contended that the trial court erred in denying its request for a cost waiver. The court made two points in affirming the trial court’s denial. First, although MST repeatedly claimed it had no resources to pay the costs, it never provided any evidence to support the claim. Additionally, MST repeatedly violated court orders to pay the costs and even admitted that it was never going to be able to pay the costs. It was only after delaying for several months that MST requested the waiver. As a result, the court held that MST had no good faith intention of ever paying the costs and the trial court was justified in denying the waiver.

Many lead agencies have adopted ordinances requiring a petitioner to pay the lead agency’s costs to prepare the administrative record when the petitioner does not elect to prepare; far fewer ordinances expressly require a petitioner to pay a deposit for the lead agency to review and certify the administrative record after a petitioner elects to prepare the administrative record.  While the decision is unpublished it serves as a reminder that even where a petitioner elects to prepare the administrative record, the lead agency still bears the burden to review and certify the record.  Reviewing and certifying the administrative record is a time consuming task and nothing in CEQA prohibits a lead agency from developing an ordinance requiring a CEQA petitioner to pay a deposit to cover those costs.

Contents of an Administrative Record: Who is in “Control”?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Preparation of the administrative record for CEQA litigation is governed by Public Resources Code section 21167.6, subdivision (e).  In Consolidated Irrigation District v. The Superior Court of Fresno County, (2012) ___ Cal.App.4th_____, the court provided important guidance regarding the proper contents of the record and sets some limitations on an agency’s responsibility to respond to Public Records Act requests.

The court first considered whether the files of subconsultants retained to prepare an EIR for a lead agency are (1) “public records” that the lead agency must provide in response to a Public Records Act request and/or (2) part of the administrative record for purposes of CEQA litigation.  In both instances, the court looked to the contract between the lead agency and the primary EIR consultant and determined that the City’s “control” over the consultant was contractually limited and did not extend to the services performed by subconsultants.  Thus, for purposes of the Public Record Act, the subconsultant’s files were not “in the possession of the agency” and therefore did not need to be included in the City’s response to petitioner’s Public Records Act request.  For purposes of CEQA, the contract established that the subconsultant’s files were not owned, controlled or in the possession of the City.  The court held such files were not considered part of the record under Public Resources Code section 21167.6, subdivision (e)(10) which requires inclusion of documents “included in the …public agency’s files on the project….”

Importantly, however, the court did not establish a bright line rule that subconsultant files never qualify for inclusion in the record; if a subconsultant’s documents were made available consistent with CEQA’s requirements, such documents would properly be in the record (e.g., documents cited or referenced in the EIR and made available for public review).  In this case, where the subconsultant’s documents were not made available to the City, the court found that it was improper to compel production of such documents for inclusion in the record.

The court next considered whether the City was required to include transcripts of hearings and/or audio files of public hearings in the record.  Although transcripts are clearly “written” materials and should generally be included in the record, in this case the City had not prepared written transcripts of several hearings and therefore could not produce such documents. The court held that Public Resources Code section 21167.6, subdivision (e)(4)’s requirement that the administrative record include “[a]ny transcript or minutes” does not compel a lead agency to prepare transcripts that do not otherwise exist.  However, the court held that audio recordings of the hearings constitute “other written materials” under subdivision (e)(4) and therefore must be included in the administrative record if transcripts are not available.  The court explained that this broad interpretation of the words “written materials” best promotes CEQA’s purposes of accountability and informed self-government.

Finally, the court considered whether certain documents cited within a comment letter constitute “written comments received” by the agency and/or “written evidence submitted” to the agency and thus warrant inclusion in the record under section 21167.6, subdivisions (e)(6) and (e)(7).  As to the first issue, the court concluded that the term “comment” does not include documents cited to support the assertions made in the letter.  While these documents are considered evidence supporting the contentions in the letter, they “cannot be bootstrapped into the record of proceedings using the language in section 21167.6, subdivision (e)(6) that covers ‘written comments received.’”

As to the next issue, the court determined that “written evidence” has been “submitted to” a lead agency for purposes of section 21167.6, subdivision (e)(7) when the commenter has made the document readily available for use or study by lead agency personnel.  The court applied this test to four categories of “evidence”:

(1)   documents named in a comment letter and previously delivered to the City in connection with another project were made “readily available” for City personnel and therefore were part of the record under subdivision (e)(7);

(2)   documents named in the comment letter along with a reference to a general Web site through which the document could be located were too general in nature and would subject lead agency personnel to potentially time-consuming efforts to locate the specific Web page where the document is located; therefore, citations to general Web pages and home pages are not considered “readily available” to the City and are not part of the record under subdivision (e)(7);

(3)   documents named in a comment letter along with a citation to the specific Web page or URL containing the document were made “readily available to the City personnel” and therefore are part of the record under subdivision (e)(7);

(4)   documents named in comment letters without a citation to a Web site or Web page are too difficult to identify or obtain and therefore have not been “submitted to” the lead agency for purposes of subdivision (e)(7) and need not be included in the record.

Key Point:

This case confirms that, with limited exception, the scope of the administrative record in a CEQA case is very broad and agencies should be careful to include: (1) the materials in the EIR consultant’s project files, and subconsultant’s files to the extent the agency owns or exercises control over those files, (2) audio tapes of public hearings where no transcripts are available, and (3) all documents received by or submitted to the agency, including documents “submitted” as URL citations in comment letters.

Written By: Tina Thomas and Ashle Crocker
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For questions relating to this blog post or any other California land use, environmental and/or planning issues contact Thomas Law Group at (916) 287-9292.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Thomas Law Group, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

Court Orders Partial Publication of Consol. Irrigation Dist. v. City of Selma (2012) __ Cal.App.4th __

Monday, March 19th, 2012

On March 9, 2012, the Fifth Appellate District ordered a portion of its decision in Consol. Irrigation Dist. v. City of Selma (2012) __ Cal.App.4th __ (2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 277) published. Specifically, the Court ordered all but Sections I.A., III., IV.C., IV.D., V., and VI. of DISCUSSION published. The portions of the opinion ordered published relate to augmenting the administrative record, the irrigation district’s standing to file the CEQA action, and the credibility of evidence used to establish a fair argument under CEQA. The sections of the decision discussing the substantive application of the fair argument test where not ordered published.

With respect to the trial court’s decision to augment the record, the Court applied the substantial evidence standard of review. The trial court determined that the petitioner’s declaration stating that certain documents not included in the record were submitted to the City was the most credible of the declarations submitted at trial concerning augmentation of the record. The Court held that this determination by the trial court constituted substantial evidence demonstrating that the administrative record was properly augmented. The Court explained that to reject the trial court’s credibility determination its conclusion must be “physically impossible or obviously false without resorting to inference or deduction.”

In addressing the irrigation district’s standing to sue, the Court concluded Water Code section 22650 establishes that the irrigation district has standing to seek a writ of mandate. The Court concluded further that a public agency is not required to have jurisdiction over a natural resource affected by a proposed CEQA project to have a beneficial interest for the purposes of standing. Because the court found Water Code section 22650 to give the irrigation district standing, the Court declined to consider whether the irrigation district, as a governmental agency and not a citizen, can have public interest standing.

Lastly, the Court rejected the City’s argument that evidence submitted by the irrigation district was incredible and, thus, incapable of establishing a fair argument of potentially significant environmental impacts. The Court stated that to reject evidence as incredible, an agency must identify the evidence that was challenged with sufficient particularity to allow the reviewing court to determine whether there were legitimate, disputed issues of credibility. Here, the City cited no evidence that any particular statements in the record were disputed by the city council, planning commission, or staff during the administrative process. Therefore, the Court held the City’s credibility argument lacked merit.

Key Points:

Courts will not entertain an agency’s argument that evidence submitted during the administrative process lacks credibility unless the agency confronts this question during the administrative process and based on substantial evidence concludes the evidence is incredible.

Written By: Tina Thomas and Chris Butcher
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For questions relating to this blog post or any other California land use, environmental and/or planning issues contact Thomas Law Group at (916) 287-9292.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Thomas Law Group, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

Court Awards Agency’s Costs of Preparing Administrative Record Despite Petitioner Electing to Prepare the Record

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

In an unpublished decision, Landwatch San Luis Obispo v. Cambria Community Serv. Dist., 2d Civil No. B229545 (2012), the Court upheld a trial court’s cost award of $14,615.41 to the Cambria Community Service District for time spent preparing the administrative record.  The District initially sought almost $24,000.  In reaching the amount awarded, the trial court denied the majority of the costs claimed for work performed by the District’s general manager, its engineer and its attorney in preparing the transcript and granted the full amount of costs sought for work performed by the District’s clerk and three administrative assistants.

Petitioner appealed arguing that no costs should have been awarded because it elected to prepare the administrative record and the District never informed the Petitioner how much it would cost to prepare the transcripts for the administrative record.   The Court acknowledged that the Petitioner requested the District provide it with a cost estimate to prepare the transcripts.  However, the Court concluded that nothing in CEQA requires the public agency to provide a cost estimate for preparing the record.  The Court also rejected Petitioner’s claim that the costs were not reasonable and necessary.  The Court instead deferred to the trial court’s determination of reasonableness.

Written By: Tina Thomas and Chris Butcher

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For questions relating to this blog post or any other California land use, environmental and/or planning issues contact Thomas Law Group at (916) 287-9292.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Thomas Law Group, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.