Sterling Natural Resource Center Receives Favorable Ruling From San Diego Superior Court

marketwired – excerpt

Ruling certifies wastewater treatment project in compliance with California Environmental Quality Act

HIGHLAND, CA–(Marketwired – May 22, 2017) – The Sterling Natural Resource Center (SNRC) today announced a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled in its favor in a lawsuit filed by the City of San Bernardino against coordinating agencies San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District) and East Valley Water District. The lawsuit, which challenged the recycled water project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under the toughest environmental law in the United States, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), was overthrown by the judge in SNRC’s favor on all accounts. The positive ruling affirms the SNRC is in compliance with CEQA, and allows the project to advance with its plans of creating a state-of-the-art recycled water facility.

“This ruling brings the San Bernardino Valley one step closer to building a project that will reduce the amount of water used only once locally and then sent down the Santa Ana River for Orange County to treat and reuse,” said Valley District Board President Susan Longville. “The Sterling Natural Resource Center will treat up to 10 million gallons of wastewater every day that will be used to recharge our own local groundwater basin year after year.”

Recently, the State Water Resources Control Board authorized a 1211 permit to the SNRC, a crucial permit that will allow the project to move forward with its plans of recharging the Bunker Hill Basin with up to 10 million gallons of recycled water daily. It also received a Section 7 authorization, a positive affirmation of the project’s EIR by federal agencies U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corp of Engineers, among others.

The Sterling Natural Resource Center will bring hundreds of temporary construction jobs, directly and indirectly initiate nearly 1,400 jobs, offer job training and educational opportunities to local students and provide a community gathering space. Many local business owners and community members have spoken out in support of the project and all that it brings to our community.

The City of San Bernardino cited public health, cost and environmental concerns in the lawsuit against the project’s EIR, but the court found no evidence to prove any of its claims against the Sterling Natural Resource Center.

“This is a major win for the residents of Highland and San Bernardino,” said East Valley Water District Board Chairman Ron Coats. “This victory means that the Sterling Natural Resource Center will move forward with development and taxpayer dollars will no longer be spent on legal fees.”… (more)

 

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Supreme Court Grants Review in Medical Marijuana Case Presenting CEQA “Project” Definition Issues

by Arthur F. Coon : jdsupra – excerpt

On January 11, 2017, the California Supreme Court by unanimous order granted review in yet another CEQA case, Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of San Diego (2016) 4 Cal.App.4th 103, Supreme Court Case No. S238563.

The issues presented in plaintiff and appellant’s Petition for Review are:

  1. “Is amendment of a zoning ordinance an activity directly undertaken by a public agency that categorically constitutes a “project” under CEQA?
  2. Is a [sic] “the enactment of a law allowing the operation of medical marijuana cooperatives in certain areas of a municipality under certain conditions is [sic] the type of activity that may cause a reasonably foreseeable change to the environment,” categorically?”… (more)

Citizens group fights city’s new short-term vacation rentals proposal

sdnews – excerpt

The City of San Diego has been put on notice by citizens group Save San Diego Neighborhoods that if the mayor and City Council intend to change the city’s municipal code to allow short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods, it must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Save San Diego Neighborhoods’ attorneys delivered a letter with the notice and request for a formal reply from Robert Vacchi, director of the San Diego Development Services Department.

The letter advises city officials that changing the city’s municipal code to allow short-term vacation rentals (STVR) to operate in San Diego’s residential zones represents a “fundamental change” to the municipal code. Save San Diego neighborhoods also asserts that to allow STVR into residential zones violates the city’s general plan and adversely effects all ten elements of the plan, in particular, noise, housing and services and safety.

“The eventual adoption of an ordinance expressly allowing STVRs in single family residential zones will have multiple, foreseeable, direct and indirect physical impacts upon the environment and constitutes a non-exempt ‘project’ under CEQA,” the letter states…  (more)

All That Urban Planning Jargon No One Understands, Translated

By: : voiceofsandiego – excerpt

In a year spent writing about land use in the city, I’ve learned the only people who use more jargon than the military are urban planners.

The field is filled with so many acronyms, Orwellian euphemisms and largely meaningless buzzwords, I’ve even broken into audible laughter at public meetings out of the sheer (and seemingly intentional) incomprehensibility of the discussion.

But you’ve gotta learn the language, as they say, and I’ve started to become fluent in planner.

There are far too many terms, blurbs and newspeak to list in one story, so we’re trying out an occasional installment where I provide a few terms, their meanings and links to relevant examples in San Diego. If people like it, we’ll keep it up and flesh it out going forward. (Add requests in the comments for terms you’ve heard at public meetings/always thought were ludicrous, and maybe we’ll include them in a future post.)…

California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA: Passed in 1970, CEQA is maybe the state’s most influential planning law. To provide decision-makers information on the environmental effects of a project, it requires developers and planners to specify “significant” environmental effects and how they can be avoided. It also requires decision-makers to disclose to the public why they ignored those issues if they ultimately approve a project anyhow.

It’s sometimes referred to, jokingly, as the Consultants Employment Quality Act, as its presence has provided much demand for land use consultants on large projects. (See also: Environmental Impact Report, or EIR)… (more)