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San Bernardino Associated Gov'ts v. Superior Court of San Bernardino County

Citation: 36 ELR 20018
No. No. E037468, (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 01/23/2006)

A court vacates an order overruling a county board's demurrer in an environmental group's action seeking to compel the board to conduct an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before placing a sales tax measure on a ballot or to prevent implementation of the measure if passed. The sales tax is intended to fund local transportation needs. The trial court overruled the demurrer, ruling that the limitations period on the environmental group's CEQA action did not begin to run until the board posted its notice of exemption from the CEQA requirements. But a local authority designated under the Local Transportation Authority and Improvement Act, not the board itself, was the entity that had the discretionary power to shape the measure and accompanying expenditure plan to respond to environmental concerns. The board was not a proper substitute because it could neither reshape the measure and expenditure plan to comply with the CEQA, nor could it refuse to place the measure on the ballot. The limitations period therefore began to run after the local authority posted its notice of exemption, making the environmental group's claim untimely. The trial court, therefore, should have sustained the demurrer.