Lakeside Business Owners Bet the Farm on CEQA Challenge

voiceofsandiego – excerpt

A bunch of small farming-related businesses in Lakeside have a powerful ally in their attempts to keep a much larger competitor from opening next door: the California Environmental Quality Act.

The legal case has small businesses fighting not only their would-be competitor, but also the county for using an uncommon method to get the project approved quickly.

CEQA is often blamed for making life difficult for businesses and developers in San Diego. It requires long, expensive environmental reviews that can result in beneficial changes being made to projects. But it’s also ripe for abuse from groups who have non-environmental interests in slowing, stopping and changing proposed projects

To speed things up, the county said the developers didn’t need to do a new environmental review. Instead, it said they could glom onto a review done for an old project pondered for that location, approved in 2008 but never built…

Hix Snedeker’s new project didn’t seem to have significant new environmental impacts, the county decided, so it used a wrinkle within CEQA that says minor changes to a project don’t require a new environmental review.

But it’s not usually used for an entirely new project by an entirely different company.

“CEQA does not allow this,” said Rory Wicks, a lawyer for the coalition of neighborhood businesses, Save Our Stores, during a Board of Supervisor’s meeting on the issue. “The courts do not allow this.”…

In 2006, a court ruled on a similar issue in Placerville, saying the city did not have the right to an old project’s environmental review for a new project. In that case, a study for a 1997 project that was never built was used to give the greenlight for a project in 2004… (more)

 

 

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