In a surprise move, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled back in the summer of 2014, that land use planning by voter qualified initiative is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); even if a city council adopts the voter initiative to avoid holding a special election. The Los Angeles Times is reporting this could be the case with the recent initiative to bring a large-scale project to Inglewood. [adsenseyu2]
Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court, ruled that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does not apply when a lead agency receives a voter initiative petition that qualifies under the Elections Code and the lead agency chooses to adopt the initiative without putting the decision to the voters.
The original case came about in 2007 when Walmart sought to expand its Sonora store to a super-center of 27,491 square feet. By the end of 2009, an Environmental Impact Report was unanimously approved by the city’s planning commission.
However, a Walmart supporter announced plans to circulate an initiative petition which would have adopted a specific plan for the construction of the super-center without the need for further processing or compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. In Sept. 2010, the Sonora City Council considered the petition that had been signed by 20 percent of Sonora’s registered voters.
With more than 40% of the registered voters signing the petition, it amounted to 22,000 signatures for the project to go forward without an additional EIR (environmental impact report). The city council has taken the additional step of outsourcing environmental reviews at a previous council meeting.
When asked about whether this would be a route taken by Inglewood, council members referred the author’s to the mayor, who offered this:
“I’m not prepared to make a commitment as to what way we are going to go
The California Supreme Court is unanimous that:
…interested parties may attempt to use initiatives to advance their own aims as part of the democratic process…
In addition to avoiding CEQA, the L.A. Times article also points out the developers want to avoid an FAA regulation by sinking the stadium 100 feet into the ground.
What’s the point of CEQA or any type of regulation if the wealthy can avoid it?
Read the full article on L.A. Times.