Local Legislative Bodies Must Expressly Agendize CEQA Documents – County Planning Commission Failed to Include Project-Related CEQA Item on Agenda

Overview: The California Court of Appeal recently held that the state’s open meeting law (the Brown Act) requires that, if a document under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) must be approved by a local legislative body in connection with the approval of another item on the body’s agenda, that agenda must expressly disclose that approval of the CEQA document will be considered at the meeting. The court emphasized that the agenda item for the legislative body’s consideration of a subdivision application did not implicitly include the legislative body’s consideration of a CEQA document known as a mitigated negative declaration (MND). Thus, the Court held that the legislative body’s approval of the CEQA document, where it had not been mentioned on its agenda, violated the agenda requirements of the Brown Act.
Practical Points: The Court concluded that any local legislative body that intends to consider a CEQA document in connection with the consideration of a project at a meeting must expressly disclose on its agenda that it intends to consider the CEQA document at the meeting. The mention of the CEQA document in the agenda does not have to be lengthy. The Court of Appeal indicated that the planning commission “could have easily complied with the agenda requirement by simply adding a few words, such as ‘and consider adoption of a mitigated negative declaration’ regarding the project.” Of course, local agencies remain free to include more detailed language than that noted by the Court. The Court ultimately held that the failure to mention the CEQA document on the agenda may result in the approval of the CEQA document being set aside… (more)


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