Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

SPRAWLDEF v. San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Comm'n

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20096
Nos. A137619, (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist., 04/29/2014)

A California appellate court upheld the issuance of a county permit for a landfill expansion project in the Suisun Marsh, part of the San Francisco Bay tidal estuary. Environmental groups claimed that the permit approvals violate the Sonoma County Local Protection Plan and, specifically, a county ordinance, because the expansion will entail some rechanneling of an ephemeral watercourse called Spring Branch. Under that ordinance, modification of a marsh watercourse is allowed only if no “reasonable alternative” exists. The groups therefore argued that the Commission could have, and should have, approved a smaller expansion that would not impinge on the intermittent watercourse. The trial court agreed, ruling no substantial evidence supports the Commission’s determination that a smaller alternative is not economically reasonable. But the appellate court reversed. The Commission had an adequate record before it to fairly determine the smaller alternatives were not economically reasonable. And despite the groups' assertion to the contrary, the Commission did not reject the reduced-size alternative on economic grounds alone. On remand, the lower court must enter a judgment denying the groups' petition for writ of mandate.