First District Court of Appeal: City not Required to Consider Compliance with the Subdivision Map Act Prior to Certifying CEQA Document or Issuing Entitlements
The First District Court of Appeal reversed a lower court decision setting aside the City of Redwood’s decision to certify an EIR and approve a planned development permit for 4.75 acres in the case Save Laurel Way v. City of Redwood City (August 29, 2017, Case No. A147942). Project opponents raised multiple claims, including violation of the Subdivision Map Act.
The proposed project included two phases. The first phase included improvements to the project area, such as construction of utility infrastructure, roadways, retaining walls, and landscaping. The second phase included construction of individual residences on lots within the project area. The second phase could only commence after the first phase was completed and approved by the city. The trial court concluded that the city abused its discretion when approving the project because the facts did not support a finding that enough legal lots existed to support the residences proposed by the project. Real Parties in Interest appealed.
On appeal, the Real Parties argued that the Subdivision Map Act does not require a lead agency to evaluate the legality of lots before complying with CEQA or granting entitlements. The First District Court of Appeal agreed, noting that the PDP approval only granted authorization to proceed with construction of infrastructure and related improvements in the project area. In comparison, section 66499.30 of the Subdivision Map Act prohibits construction “of any building” without compliance with or exemption from the Act. As a result, the Court found no issues ripe for adjudication, as the Subdivision Map Act does not apply to certification of CEQA environmental documents. Since the Subdivision Map Act was not implicated in the city’s approval of the project’s first phase, the trial court’s adjudication of the issue was inappropriate.