First District Upholds Streamlined EIR for Mixed-Use Development in Unpublished Case
In the unpublished case, Save the Hill v. City and County of San Francisco (No. A153549), the First District Court of Appeal upheld an environmental impact report (EIR) and project findings for a mixed-use real estate development. In 2008, San Francisco certified an EIR considering various planning alternatives for some of the City’s neighborhoods, including Potrero Hill. In 2015, the City published a notice of preparation (NOP) for the redevelopment of a 3.5-acre site in lower Potrero. The redevelopment project proposed two mixed-used buildings with 395 residential units, approximately 25 thousand square feet of retail space, and off-street parking. the City circulated a focused EIR for the project, which included review of transportation and historic resources. Otherwise, the City concluded that the proposed project fell within the scope of the 2008 plan EIR. Even this 3.5-acre redevelopment proposal with a focused EIR incorporating a prior EIR drew a CEQA challenge, which is no surprise considering the area.
On review, the court upheld the City’s decision to proceed with streamlined CEQA review and the City’s findings. The court explained that section 21083.3 requires streamlined review for projects which are consistent with development densities in an existing EIR prepared for a community plan. The First District looked to the California Supreme Court’s guidance in Friends of College of San Mateo Gardens v. San Mateo County Community College District (2016) 1 Cal.5th 937, and held that substantial evidence supported the City’s decision to proceed with streamlined review, based on the project’s consistency with the community plan EIR.
This case offers yet another example of the challenges developers face when entitling project’s in California. Classic NIMBY attitudes delay and increase the expense of development that local municipalities may need due to State mandates. These costs are ultimately passed to the consumer.