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Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court of Tuolumne County

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20224
Nos. F063849, (Cal. Ct. App. 5th Dist., 10/30/2012)

A California appellate court held that a city council may not skip California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review for a development project by using Election Code §9214(a) to approve the project via a voter petition instead of holding an election under §9214(b). When a development project is approved by means of a ballot initiative placed on the ballot by voters and adopted by them in an election, the project is exempt from environmental review under CEQA. But CEQA compliance cannot be avoided when the developer gathers signatures of 15 percent of the registered voters on an initiative petition to approve the development, and the lead agency chooses to forgo the election and adopt the initiative directly as an ordinance. Environmental review can be avoided when the voters choose to bypass it, not when the lead agency chooses to bypass the voters.