By William W. Abbott

Neighborhood activists organized to defeat the proposed demolition of the Van De Kamp Bakery Building for the construction of a new commercial building. With the support of the activists, the Los Angeles Community College District acquired the site in 2001 with the idea of developing a satellite college facility. The District completed an EIR and two addenda for a reuse plan for the building, but due to budgetary constraints, the campus was not developed. In 2009, the District adopted an interim use plan, and authorized the execution of a lease with a private education service provider. The District determined that the lease did not require additional CEQA review as it served the same functionality that the site had been analyzed for under the EIR and related documents. Appellants filed a CEQA lawsuit (CEQA I) challenging the 2009 approvals. In 2010, while the CEQA I lawsuit was pending, the District took further actions to implement the 2009 resolutions. Appellants then filed a second CEQA action (CEQA II), challenging the 2010 actions on the basis that they violated CEQA. The District demurred to the CEQA II lawsuit on the basis that it was duplicative of the first lawsuit and time barred by the statute of limitations running from the 2009 resolutions. Appellants argued in part that the District did not commit itself to a particular course of action until such time as the 2010 approvals were granted. Applying the 180 day statute of limitations running from the 2009 resolutions, the trial court determined that the CEQA II claim was untimely. The court also concluded that the second lawsuit was duplicative. The court dismissed CEQA II, and in the separate CEQA action, granted the appellants partial relief.

With respect to the CEQA II appeal, the appellate court concurred that the action was barred by the 180 day statute of limitations. The later actions were in implementation of the 2009 resolutions, and did not constitute separate projects. In reaching this conclusion, the appellate court acknowledged that the more specific information known with respect to potential impacts associated with the 2010 actions were compatible with the previously prepared EIR for the proposed but never built community college campus, and therefore did not constitute substantial new information. Van De Kamps Coalition v. Board of Trustees of Los Angeles Community College District (June 5, 2012, B234955) __ Cal.App.4th ___.

William W. Abbott is a partner at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP. For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.