Subdivision consistent with approved specific plan did not need further environmental review

By Kaela Shiigi, Perkins Coie LLP Land Use & Development Law Report, March 7, 2022

“The Court of Appeal found that a development project that was consistent with a previously approved specific plan was not required to prepare a new EIR because no changes significantly increased impacts on endangered species. Citizens’ Committee to Complete the Refuge v. City of Newark, No. A162045 (1st Dist., Dec. 29, 2021).

“In 2019, the City [of Newark, Calif.] approved a subdivision map for development of residential lots on a portion of [Newark designated] Area 4. The City prepared a checklist comparing the analysis in the EIR with the impacts of the proposed project. … The plaintiffs challenged the map approval and the use of the checklist.

“The court of appeal held that the subdivision map was exempted from further CEQA review … because it was consistent with the specific plan, which had a certified EIR.

“The plaintiffs claimed that there were three aspects of the subdivision map that were significantly different from the specific plan analyzed in the EIR and would have significant new impacts on the salt marsh harvest mouse. However, substantial evidence supported the City’s conclusion that none of the changes would significantly increase the impacts on the harvest mouse beyond those addressed in the EIR.

“Plaintiffs also contended that the project risked exacerbating the effects of sea level rise on the environment[.] … The court found that … these dynamics were not new in relation to this project, so the City did not need to address them in reviewing the project.”

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