Bakersfield Citizens for Local Control v. City of Bakersfield

124 Cal. App. 4th 1184, 22 Cal. Rptr. 3d 203 (2004)

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Bakersfield Citizens for Local Control v. City of Bakersfield

California Court of Appeal
124 Cal. App. 4th 1184, 22 Cal. Rptr. 3d 203 (2004)

Facts

Panama 99 Properties, LLC (P99) planned to develop a large shopping center named Panama 99 (Panama) in the City of Bakersfield (defendant). Castle and Commercial-CA, Inc. (C&C) planned to develop a separate large shopping center in Bakersfield named Gosford Village (Gosford). The Panama site and the Gosford site were 3.6 miles apart, both had Wal-Mart Supercenters as their anchor stores, and they shared arterial-roadway links. Together, Gosford and Panama were to have 1.1 million square feet of retail space, and both were in an area that had numerous existing retail stores. C&C and P99 applied for project approvals, and a separate environmental-impact report (EIR) was prepared for each proposed shopping center. During the environmental-review process, Bakersfield Citizens for Local Control (BCLC) (plaintiff) and others raised concerns and presented evidence that the two shopping centers, either individually or cumulatively, would trigger urban decay. Each EIR contained a statement that urban decay was not a significant effect of the shopping center, but neither EIR contained an analysis explaining how this conclusion had been reached. After certifying the EIRs, the Bakersfield City Council approved both projects. BCLC filed two separate lawsuits, one contesting the approval of the Panama project and one contesting the approval of the Gosford project. In both lawsuits, BCLC argued that the EIRs failed to comply with the information-disclosure requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because the EIRs omitted any meaningful consideration of whether the shopping centers could, individually or cumulatively, trigger urban decay. The trial court concluded that both EIRs were inadequate and ordered them decertified, but it left the project approvals intact and allowed construction to continue on all portions of each shopping center except for the supercenters pending CEQA compliance. BCLC partially appealed both actions, and C&C partially appealed the Gosford action. The California Court of Appeal consolidated the appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Buckley, J.)

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