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Save Tara v. West Hollywood, City of

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20051
Nos. No. B185656, (Cal. App. 2d Dist., 02/21/2007)

A California appellate court reversed in part a lower court decision denying a neighborhood association's petition to set aside agreements between a city and developers to build a housing project in West Hollywood. Although the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the developers' application for the project, the lower court concluded that no environmental impact report (EIR) was required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because the agreements were not yet legally binding, because they were expressly conditioned on compliance with the CEQA, and because the city had not given its final approval of the project. But an EIR is not to be delayed until a "final" decision has been made. Second, the finding that the agreement was "expressly conditioned on compliance with the CEQA" indicates a misunderstanding of the EIR review process. That process is intended to be part of the decisionmaking process itself, and not an examination, after the decision has been made, of the possible environmental consequences of the decision. The court, therefore, directed the city to void the agreements and to engage in the EIR process based on the project as described in the HUD application.