Are Effects of the Environment on People Subject to CEQA?
In Ballona Wetlands Land Trust v. City of Los Angeles (No. B231965; published December 2011), California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that an EIR need not examine the effects of an environmental hazard or adverse environmental condition on a project or the people using it. In this case the issue was susceptibility of a project to sea level rise, but the principle can also apply to exposure of a project and people to other existing environmental conditions, such as toxic air contaminants, seismic hazards, wildfire risk, or excessive noise. The decision stated that CEQA is only concerned with the effect of a project on the environment, and not the effect of the environment on a project and its users. The Court also expressed that it was not consistent with CEQA to use certain CEQA Guidelines sections and Appendix G questions to support analyzing the effects of the environment on a project.
Is this decision consistent with CEQA’s legislative intent and other statutory directives to provide a healthful environment and to understand substantial effects on humans?
The Ballona decision follows in the footsteps of three similar cases and, since its publication, it has generated substantial discussion regarding CEQA’s requirements. In the attached Ascent Share paper, we examine the rationale of this decision, place it in full context of CEQA statutory language, and argue that CEQA does, indeed, require consideration of the effects of the environment on a project and people using it, along with a project’s effects on the environment.
The paper can be found here.
Ascent Environmental, Inc. is a forward-looking environmental and natural resources consultancy. We apply our extensive CEQA and NEPA experience in our environmental practice with the goal of providing personal service and high quality results to our clients on their most important projects.
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