New Case Update: Tomlinson v. County of Alameda – Are You Set Up to Protect Your CEQA Exempt Projects?
In the recent opinion of Tomlinson v. County of Alameda (June 14, 2012) 2012 Cal. Lexis 5261, the California Supreme Court addressed the question of whether a party must exhaust administrative remedies before it may challenge a public entity’s decision that a project is exempt under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).
The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies requires that a party raise its concerns regarding a proposed project before the project is approved by the public entity. If a party does not raise its concerns before the project is approved, the party may be barred from raising its concerns in court.
In Tomlinson, the California Supreme Court held that if a party was given an opportunity to raise its concerns about a proposed project considered exempt from CEQA at a public hearing prior to project approval then the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies does apply.
The Court’s decision is a major departure from the majority of prior appellate decisions that had held that a party does not need to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to challenging a public entity’s decision that a project is exempt. As such, it is likely that your entity does not have the proper procedures in place to take advantage of the protections afforded by the Tomlinson opinion.
Should you like more information on how your entity can implement the holding in the Tomlinson decision to better protect your projects from CEQA challenges, please contact Brian J. Bergman at (310) 470-6110 or [email protected].