Laurel Hills Homeowners Ass'n v. City Council of Los Angeles
Citation: 8 ELR 20714
No. 2d Civ. No. 52606, 147 Cal. Rptr. 842/88 Cal. App. 3d 515, (Cal. Dist. Ct. App., 08/03/1978)
The court affirms the trial court's denial of a petition to vacate respondent's decision to approve a subdivision plan, ruling that the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) have been fulfilled. The environmental impact report (EIR) prepared pursuant to CEQA identified eight alternatives to the proposed subdivision plan, one of which was deemed environmentally superior, and recommended measures to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of the original proposal. The appropriate city agency thereupon approved the original plan without substantial change but added a requirement that most of the recommended mitigation measures be adopted. The court first validates the trial court's conclusion that certain amendments to CEQA which became effective in 1977 were declaratory of preexisting law and therefore apply fully to the challenged subdivision approval even though that proceeding was completed in 1976. These amendments provide, in relevant part, that (1) where an environmentally superior alternative to a proposed project is shown to be feasible, that alternative must be selected, and (2) where the adverse environmental impacts of a proposed project can be lessened by the inclusion of feasible mitigation measures, such measures must be adopted. The court rejects petitioners' argument that because the EIR identified an environmentally superior alternative which was not shown to be infeasible, that alternative had to be selected under the Act.Where, as here, the adverse environmental impacts of the original proposal can be reduced to an acceptable level through the imposition of feasible mitigation measures, the statutory duty to select the environmentally preferable alternative is an alternative duty that is waived. Therefore, the city was not required to find that the environmentally preferable alternative was infeasible but could simply approve construction of the original proposal conditioned on the inclusion of measures which would reduce the adverse environmental impacts to an acceptable level. The court upholds the trial court's twin findings that (1) the mitigation measures which were approved by defendants would in fact reduce the environmental impacts of the project to an acceptable level, and (2) the mitigation measures which were not required were in fact infeasible within the meaning of CEQA. The judgment is therefore affirmed and remanded to determine the merits of petitioners' motion to tax costs, which was incorrectly found by the trial court to have been untimely filed.
Counsel for Petitioners
Charles F. Palmer, Public Counsel
3535 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles CA 90020
Paul F. Cohen
De Castro, West & Chodorow, Inc.
10960 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1800, Los Angeles CA 90024
360 Pine St., San Francisco CA 94104
Counsel for Respondents
Burt Pines, City Attorney; Claude E. Hilker, Jerome Montgomery, Ass't City Attorneys
200 N. Main St., Los Angeles CA 90012
Counsel for Real Party in Interest 8941 Mulholland Drive Corp.
George A. Rice
Latham & Watkins
555 S. Flower St., Los Angeles CA 90071