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Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development v. City of San Diego (2011) 196 Cal. App. 4th 515

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

In 1994, the City of San Diego (City) certified an EIR and approved a 665-acre mixed-use development plan. In 2008, the City was approached by a developer who wished to build condominiums on the last remaining open space within that area. The City prepared a water supply assessment (WSA) and an addendum to the 1994 EIR. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of mandate arguing that the City failed to comply with the Water Code in adopting the WSA, and that the City should have prepared a supplemental EIR because there was new information and changed circumstances pertaining to water supply and climate change. The trial court found for the City. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed. In addressing the Petitioner’s first point regarding the Water Code, the Court held that the WSA was properly approved by the City. While notices for the CEQA hearings did not reference the WSA, the Court concluded no authority mandates the CEQA notices to specifically reference the WSA. The Court also held that the Petitioner failed to provide new information regarding changes in water supply and climate change. Additionally, the Court explained that the Petitioner delivered its information in a disorderly way by presenting thousands of unorganized documents last minute, essentially “document dumping.” The Court explained that objections must be specific so as to provide the City with a chance to evaluate and respond.

Key Point:

For the purposes of Public Resources Code section 21166, “new” information only includes information that could not have been known and raised when an EIR was certified. Additionally, in presenting evidence to an agency, a Petitioner cannot expect, and CEQA does not require, a lead agency to pore through thousands of documents to find and respond to information that arguably supports Petitioner’s claims.