In Case You're Confused by the Two San Diego Climate Lawsuits

These are two similar lawsuits by environmental groups, one aimed at San Diego County, the other at the San Diego MPO, both based on CEQA and one also on SB 375. Enviros won both of them but only one will be heard by the California Supreme Court.

2 minute read

March 21, 2015, 9:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

First, the county lawsuit: The state’s high court declined to review the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision in a Sierra Club lawsuit, which means the county government must now set tangible targets for dealing with the effects of climate change," write Maureen Magee and Deborah Sullivan Brennan of U-T San Diego. "However, the state Supreme Court will review a lawsuit filed by the Cleveland National Forest Foundation against the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG."

While Planetizen has been following the latter court case (see "Related" below), this is the first post on the former outside of brief description mentioned at the bottom of "A New Era in California for Evaluating Transportation Emissions."

"The Sierra Club had sued the county after it failed to include enforceable measures for curbing greenhouse-gas levels in its Climate Action Plan, a long-range planning document that addresses everything from transportation projects to housing construction and other types of development," write Magee and Brennan.

Mike Bullock of the Sierra Club’s San Diego chapter offered some examples of what should be incorporated into the revamped document.

“The plan should include equitable parking policies, community choice energy, net zero energy buildings, and encouraging efficient development near transit hubs,” Bullock said.

"This decision [PDFis very important both because of the gravity of the looming problem of climate change, and because there are few cases under the California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA] dealing with enforcement of mitigation measures, which assure that CEQA's objective of reducing adverse environmental impacts are actually achieved," said Jan Chatten-Brown in Sierra Club Law Program's "case update." His firm represented the Sierra Club in the litigation.

"The county plans to hire a consultant to work with its lawyers and staff on the revamp [of its Climate Action Plan], spokesman Michael Workman said, adding that 'there is no definite legal timeline' that has been established for the changes," according to Magee and Brennan.

The central point that the state Supreme Court will consider in the appeal of Cleveland National Forest Foundation et al. v. San Diego Association of Governments et al [PDF] will be the applicability of "then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2005 executive order [S-3-05] that set a timeline of 2050 for cutting greenhouse gases by 80 percent below 1990 levels," write Maggee and Brennan, about SANDAG's regional plan, aka sustainable community strategy, a requirement under SB 375.

Thursday, March 19, 2015 in U-T San Diego

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