Newly Published CEQA Decision Sets Precedent Regarding EIR Project Alternatives

A legal update from my colleagues Barbara Brenner and Kristen Castaños:

We are pleased to report that the California Third District Court of Appeal recently granted our request to publish its decision in a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) case in which we were lead counsel. In a challenge to the certification of an environmental impact report (EIR), plaintiffs had argued that the EIR failed to include an adequate range of alternatives to the project. The Court rejected this argument.

The case is significant for two reasons. First, it provides precedent for a lead agency and project proponent to reject alternatives that are not feasible, thus avoiding the time and cost of analyzing an infeasible alternative for fear of a CEQA suit. Second, the Court upheld the rule of reason in its finding that the analysis of the project and the No Project alternative amounted to a reasonable range of alternatives. CEQA practitioners often advise clients to identify at least one alternative that is potentially feasible. Based on this determination, a record clearly showing there is no feasible project alternative can be upheld.

Read on to learn more about the procedural background, our involvement and the significance of the ruling.

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