On August 17, 2016, the Supreme Court ordered People for Proper Planning v. City of Palm Springs (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 640 depublished.
Since the Supreme Court issued Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (2015) 60 Cal.4th 1086, five decisions have been published concerning application of the “unusual circumstances” exception set forth in CEQA Guidelines section 15300.2, subdivision (c).
In three of the decisions, the courts upheld the lead agency’s use of the categorical exemptions at issue: (1) Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 943, (2) Citizens for Environmental Responsibility v. State ex rel. 14th Dist. Ag. Assn. (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 555, and (3) Walters v. City of Redondo Beach (2016) 1 Cal.App.5th 809. In the other two decisions, the courts determined that the lead agency failed to comply with CEQA in relying on the categorical exemptions at issue: (1) Paulek v. Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (2015) 238 Cal. App. 4th 583, and (2) People for Proper Planning. The Supreme Court has now depublished both of these decisions.
Therefore, petitioners have not prevailed in any published opinion concerning application of the unusual circumstances exception to CEQA’s categorical exemptions since publication of Berkeley Hillside. (But see Save Our Schools v. Barstow Unified School Dist. Bd. of Education (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 128 [holding that a proposed school project failed to meet the factual requirements to qualify for the Class 14 categorical exemption].)
Our law firm previously posted two blog entries on the People for Proper Planning. For a discussion of the original People for Proper Planning opinion, please see here. The Fourth District later modified its opinion, as discussed here.