“CEQA-In-Reverse” Case on Remand: First District Holds BAAQMD’s 2010 Air Pollutant Thresholds Not Facially Invalid, But Can’t Be Used For Primarily Intended Purpose

By Miller Starr Regalia : lexology – excerpt

In a published decision filed August 12, 2016, following remand from the California Supreme Court after its landmark “CEQA-in-reverse” decision, the First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded with directions to issue an order partially granting CBIA’s writ of mandate and to consider CBIA’s requests for declaratory relief and attorneys’ fees. California Building Industry Association v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District (1st Dist., Div. 5, 2016)… Cal.App.4th …, 2016 WL…

The opinion reaches the same general conclusion as the Court of Appeal’s previous opinion in the matter (my blog post on which can be found here) – i.e., that BAAQMD’s 2010 Toxic Air Contaminants (TAC) Thresholds of Significance (i.e., for air pollutants including TACs and PM 2.5) are not facially invalid, because not invalid in all their potential applications. However, following the holding of the Supreme Court’s opinion (my blog post on which can be found here), the Court of Appeal importantly clarifies that the TAC Thresholds “may not be used for the primary purpose envisioned by District, namely, to routinely assess the effect of existing environmental conditions on future users or occupants of a project.”…(more)

Study shows Sonoma County has among smallest carbon footprints in Bay Area

by Guy Kovner pressdemocrat – excerpt

Sonoma County had the second smallest household greenhouse gas footprint of the nine Bay Area counties, and 11 local cities and towns accounted for carbon-related emissions below the statewide average, according to a new UC Berkeley report.

The average Sonoma County household had a footprint of 40.4 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, well below the statewide average of 45.7 tons per household and the Bay Area average of 44.3 tons, the report said.

Only San Francisco, the region’s most compact city with multiple mass transit systems, had a smaller footprint at 38.7 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, while affluent Santa Clara County was tops at 48.6 tons and wealthy communities like Atherton, Piedmont and Alamo accounted for 70 to 85 tons, as income, vehicle ownership and home size contributed heavily to the regional differences.

The average U.S. household accounts for about 50 metric tons of emissions.

Read the UC Berkeley report here

People with larger incomes “just consume more,” said Christopher Jones, program director of UC Berkeley’s CoolClimate Network and report co-author. They own larger homes which are “full of more stuff,” he said, and also travel by air more often, boosting their expenditures for transportation, which accounted for one-third of Bay Area emissions, the largest source by far.

Food is the second largest source of emissions at 19 percent, followed by goods and services (each 18 percent), heating fuels (5 percent), home construction (3 percent), electricity (2 percent) and waste (1 percent).

Rohnert Park households had the smallest footprint of the eight Sonoma County cities and three communities cited in the report at 37.7 metric tons of emissions per year, while Windsor was highest at 45.1 tons, exceeding the Bay Area average but still below the state mark.

Santa Rosa and Glen Ellen were in the middle of the pack, each at 39.5 metric tons.

Sonoma County households collectively accounted for 7.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Californians accounted for 585.5 million tons; households nationwide accounted for 5.8 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the Berkeley report said.

Sonoma County is a “good example of low-carbon development,” Jones said, noting the absence of widespread urban sprawl along with relatively modest household income and the benefit of a cool climate that reduces home energy consumption.

Sonoma County probably has an absence of widespread urban sprawl because it has no large cities. The economy is primarily agricultural, with many high-end wineries and tourists that cater to tourists, not construction and not tech. People choose to live there because they like wide open spaces, large yards and the ability to move about freely in their cars. Land values are through the roof. Vineyards, are worth more than dense housing so they protect Sonoma and Napa from dense growth.



San Francisco Affordable Housing Bonus General Plan

Author’s opinion piece:

If you ever want to oppose any development in SF, Voting no on D may be your last opportunity to do so before they pass this program.

If the Mayor gets his way to fastrack projects without public scrutiny, review, comments or opinions, you will soon have less chance to oppose it than you do now.

Lack of public access to the meetings and the screenings of the meetings is of great concern. For some reason the Planning Commission Meeting (where the Planing Staff described how THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING BONUS PROGRAM will be used to turn us into New York West) did not screen live at noon. The meeting went live at 3 PM. after a special Parks and Rec meeting, I was able to watch most of it. This has been happening a lot lately. It seems to be part of the plan to keep the public in dark. As of today there is no posting of the link on the city Government TV site under Planning Commission. WHY? I sent a complaint to Jonas Ionin. They may have “forgotten” to post the link on the Planning Commission Page. It appears to be scheduled to run at midnight this weekend.

Planning Commissioners response to the plan:

The Planning Commissioners did not feel comfortable with the plan because it will remove the opportunity for public comment or review of many of the large projects that will effect ALL the neighborhoods without their knowledge. This is probably against the city charter or should be. Looks like the Planning Commissioners will push back and force at least one additional informational meeting. Some of our friends were there and spoke out against it. THANK YOU!

Link to explanations, links, and maps, and our petition against it:


A good showing at the next Planning Commission Meeting is needed. Watching the Commisioners comments will help us write some objections. If anyone knows where in the Charter, CEQA, or zoning codes requirements for pubic reviews and comments are established, please let me know.

Planning Commission meeting 10/15/15

SoCal Air Gets a Pass From 9th Circuit

SoCal Air Gets a Pass From 9th Circuit

By MATT REYNOLDS, Courthouse News, 3/12/15 – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit on Wednesday declined environmentalists’ calls for tougher regulation of smog in Southern California, ruling that federal standards to limit the pollution are adequate.
A provision of the Clean Air Act requires that major polluters, including power plants and refineries, pay emission fees in parts of the South Coast Air Basin with the dirtiest air.
South Coast Air Quality Management District substituted that program with another that draws on other financial sources, including state and federal grants.
After the Environmental Protection Agency approved the alternate program, National Resources Defense Council and Communities for a Better Environment filed a petition of review in early 2013, arguing that the district program did not do enough to reduce pollution from stationary sources in the South Coast Air Basin, in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
South Coast Air Quality Management District counsel Barbara Baird said that a ruling in the groups’ favor would require about 300 major stationary sources of pollution to pay combined emission fees of $30 million to $50 million.
“It would have been a hardship on some of the public agencies in this area, if we had not been able to use this alternative method of compliance.” Baird said in an interview. “We think the plaintiffs are just wrong if they assume they would get something better out of the other program than they get out of this one.”
The New England Journal of Medicine this month published a study concluding that air pollution has been “trending downward progressively over the past several decades in Southern California.”… (more)

I could be wrong, but I think SF just got hit with a $30 million fee. Do we have to lose jobs to fight the fee?

Bay area air district significance thresholds reinstated

Bay area air district significance thresholds reinstated

By Norman F Carlin and Alina J Fortson : thelawyer – excerpt

A new appellate decision reinstates the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s controversial ‘significance thresholds’ for evaluating air quality impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act. Reversing the trial court, the court of appeal found that adoption of thresholds for CEQA review was not a ‘project’ itself subject to CEQA review, and rejected claims that the thresholds were unsupported and would have adverse environmental side-effects by discouraging high-density development and promoting suburban sprawl.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that agencies analyse the potentially significant environmental impacts of proposed projects prior to approval, and that they identify and implement feasible mitigation measures or alternatives to avoid or reduce such impacts.

A ‘significance threshold’ is the level at which an impact is determined to be significant, triggering mitigation, and also determines the level at which mitigation is effective in reducing the impact beneath the threshold… (more)

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