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Wollmer v. City of Berkeley

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20135
Nos. No. A128121, (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 03/11/2011)

A California appellate court held that a city did not violate the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved an affordable housing project. In approving the project, the city concluded that the project satisfied the categorical exemption for in-fill development projects. Although the city waived certain development standards required by the state's density bonus law, the waiver did not violate CEQA's exemption guidelines. The individual challenging the approval also failed to present any substantial evidence of unusual circumstances that would prevent reliance on the categorical exemption. The court rejected his argument that the location of the project at the intersection of two major thoroughfares, and the city's traffic modeling, qualify as substantial evidence of an unusual circumstance. Nor did the city prevent the project from qualifying for a categorical exemption by having the developers dedicate land to reduce traffic impacts near the project. The individual offered no authority for the proposition that a positive effort between developers and a municipality to improve a project for the benefit of the community and address existing traffic concerns somehow becomes an evasion of CEQA. And the city did not violate the state's density bonus laws.