Opponents of arena project foul out

By Liz Klebaner and Benjamin Z. Rubin : lexology – excerpt


On November 20, 2014, the Third District Court of Appeal (Court) handed a partial victory to the City of Sacramento (City), rejecting petitioners’ appeal and thereby authorizing the continued construction of the Sacramento Kings arena in downtown Sacramento… In Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento, petitioners challenged the City’s certification of the arena project Environmental Impact Report (EIR), alleging the approval violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Constitution, and sought a preliminary injunction to halt the ongoing construction of the arena project.  The trial court denied the preliminary injunction motion and petitioners appealed.  The Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, rejecting petitioners’ constitutional claims.

The crux of the legal dispute is the validity of Senate Bill 743 (SB 743), signed into law by Governor Brown on September 27, 2013.  SB 743, among other things, accelerated the timeline for preparing an EIR for the arena project, required project opponents to proceed to mediation with the City, specified the only basis on which a court could grant an injunction to stop the project, and imposed a non-binding limit on the time in which a court could resolve subsequent litigation against the City.  With respect to the standard that has to be met to halt the arena project, Public Resources Code section 21168.6.6 provides that a court may grant an injunction only upon an opponent’s showing of imminent threat to public health and safety or unforeseen important historical, archaeological, or ecological values.  Public Resources Code section 21168.6.6 directs the Judicial Council to promulgate a rule requiring the courts, “to the extent feasible,” resolve any action to set aside the project EIR within 270 days after the City certifies the administrative record for the action.

Petitioners argued that the above statutory limitations on judicial review intrude upon the core function of the courts and violate the separation of powers clause of the California Constitution.  The Court rejected petitioners’ constitutional arguments.  The Court also affirmed the trial court’s denial of petitioners’ motion for preliminary injunction, finding that petitioners failed to meet the Public Resources Code section 21168.6.6 standard for imminent threat or unforeseen circumstances.

The Right to CEQA Review Is Not a Constitutional Right 

SB 743 Is Constitutional Because It Does Not Invade Upon the Court’s Core Function to Say What the Law Is

SB 743 Is Constitutional Because It Does Not Divest the Courts of their Jurisdiction For Failing to Adhere to the Time Frame For Resolving Litigation…   (more)

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