Not A CEQA “Project”? Not So Fast, Lead Agency!

Supreme Court Reverses Fourth District’s Decision That San Diego’s Adoption of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ordinance Was Not A Project Requiring CEQA Review

Introduction And Overview

On August 19, 2019, the California Supreme Court issued its unanimous 38-page opinion, authored by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, in the CEQA “project definition” case we’ve been tracking with interest. Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of San Diego (California Coastal Commission, Real Party in Interest) (2019) ____ Cal.5th ____, Case No. S238563. As anticipated based on the high court’s questioning and remarks at oral argument (see “Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in CEQA Project Definition Case,” posted June 6, 2019), it reversed the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision that the City’s approval of the medical marijuana dispensary ordinance at issue was not a CEQA “project”; accordingly, it held that the City was required to treat it as such and “proceed to the next steps of the CEQA analysis.”…

…the City’s action adopting the dispensary ordinance was, indeed, a “project” under the test announced in its 2007 decision in Muzzy Ranch – “a proposed activity is a CEQA project if, by its general nature, the activity is capable of causing a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment.” …(more)


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