In this important local environmental case, our attorney Noreen Evans successfully overturned a decision by the County of Sonoma to approve the sale of the Chanate Campus to a local developer for redevelopment from hospital/medical uses to housing and commercial development. The County failed to conduct a review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before committing itself to the sale of the Chanate Campus. Although the County initially claimed that its approval was a “project” exempt from CEQA, after the County approved the project, it subsequently determined that it was not a “project.”
Local residents of Sonoma County and the City of Santa Rosa filed suit against the County. At trial, the County claimed that its approval of the sale was not a “project” and did not require environmental review because the property is within the city limits of the City of Santa Rosa and the City is required to prepare an Environmental Impact Report before issuing entitlements for the project. Relying on the California Supreme Court decision in Save Tara v. City of West Hollywood (2008) 45 Cal.4th116, Sonoma Superior Court Judge Rene Auguste Chouteau found that the County’s approval of the sale for the purposes of redevelopment constituted a “project” and the County should have complied with CEQA before committing itself to the sale and redevelopment. Judge Chouteau ordered the County to set aside its approval. Read the decision here.