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News & Publications >> Press & Media >> OC judge says CEQA case is unique

OC judge says CEQA case is unique

K. Erik Friess in Daily Journal

Daily Journal (March 14, 2018) A judge halted a city-approved development next to a historic San Juan Capistrano home, citing violations of the California Environmental Quality Act that she said involve an unusual circumstance. While attorneys argued the relevance of the decision, Superior Court Judge Kim G. Dunning concluded the CEQA dispute before her is unique from that case and all other cited case law because it involves a developer using an environmental document for an overturned project instead of a previously approved project. In the 12-page opinion, Dunning said the San Juan Capistrano City Council erred in 2016 when it allowed movie producer Steve Oedekerk to use a previous project’s mitigated negative declaration for a new project, Hotel Capistrano. The declaration allows development to proceed without an EIR. But K. Erik “Rick” Friess, a partner with Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP representing real estate company SPM-Fairfield LLC, said project differences warranted new environmental analysis. Dunning agreed. It’s a tentative decision; the petitioner is to draft a final judgement within 30 days.