April 2007

By William W. Abbott

Unlike residential or commercial development projects with somewhat predictable levels of activity (and in turn, environmental effects), mining projects involving rock, sand and gravel can vary widely based upon local economic conditions. The recent case of San Joaquin Raptor v. County of Merced (April 10, 2007) 2007 Cal. App. LEXIS 516 examines the duty of the lead agency to also evaluate impacts associated with periodic or sustained peaks, and not just to rely upon historic averages. The decision also addresses deferred mitigation in the area of biological impacts.

Continue Reading Mine Games: CEQA documentation for mining projects with fluctuating production levels

By Kate J. Hart

In the recent case of San Francisco Baykeeper v. Cargill Salt Division (March 8, 2007) 2007 U.S.App.Lexis 5442, Baykeeper sued Cargill under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act alleging that Cargill unlawfully discharged waste from its salt production operation into the “waters of the United States” without the proper permits. The body of water at issue was a non-navigable, intrastate pond (“Pond”), which was not a wetland, but that was located adjacent to the Mowry Slough (“Slough”) which is a water of the U.S. Baykeeper never argued that the Pond was a wetland, but instead argued that the Pond’s adjacency to the Slough provided a basis for CWA coverage. There was no evidence that the CWA would otherwise apply. In this case, the Ninth Circuit held that the adjacency of a non-navigable water body to a water of the U.S. does not, by itself, trigger the application of the CWA.

Continue Reading Mere Adjacency STILL Does Not Constitute Clean Water Act Coverage

By William W. Abbott

One person’s misery can be someone else’s gain. This can also hold true when dealing with inter-jurisdictional disputes over impact fees. The recent case of Woodward Park Homeowners Association, Inc. v. City of Fresno (April 13, 2007) 2007 Cal.App.LEXIS 544 highlights a number of important CEQA practice issues. While these are not necessarily new concerns, the case daylights a key issue of first impression–namely, whose responsibility is it to calculate the nexus for impact fees to be set for impacts to state highway facilities? Is CalTrans responsible, or is it the responsibility of the city or county approving a development project which impacts state facilities? According to the Fifth Appellate District, the answer to the question is the lead agency.
Continue Reading Rough Road Ahead: Whose responsibility is it to perform a nexus study for mitigation fees for local project impacts to state highways?

By William W. Abbott

Citing "Exactions and Impact Fees in California" [1], the Third Appellate District ruled that the Subdivision Map Act (Gov. Code, §§ 66410 et seq.) 90-day statute of limitations trumped the longer Mitigation Fee Act (Gov. Code, §§ 66000 et seq.) timeline when reviewing a legal challenge to a subdivision map denial by the City of Chico. The case is Thomas Fogarty v. City of Chico (March 12, 2007) 2007 Cal.App.Lexis 339. Continue Reading Appellate Court Cites Exactions and Impact Fees Book