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Valley Advocates v. Fresno, City of

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20050
Nos. No. F050952, (Cal. App. 5th Dist., 02/15/2008)

A California appellate court reversed the denial of a petition challenging a city's approval of an application to demolish a building to make way for a larger parking lot. The city concluded that the building was not an historic resource and that the project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). However, in reaching this conclusion, the city was misinformed about its discretionary authority to determine whether the buildings were historic resources. As a result, the city cut short its inquiry into the historic significance of the building and relied too heavily on its earlier decision not to list the building in the local register of historic resources. Nor is the claim that the city failed to exercise its discretion in accordance with CEQA requirements a collateral attack on the city’s decision not to list the buildings in the local register. On remand, the lower court must order the city to set aside its approval of the demolition plan, set aside its findings that the proposed project is categorically exempt from CEQA, and conduct a preliminary review that properly considers whether the building qualifies as an historical resource.