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Superior Court Finds CEQA’s Fast-Track Provisions Unconstitutional

On April 9, 2013, the Superior Court for the County of Alameda, the Honorable Judge Frank Roesch presiding, issued a statement of decision in Planning and Conservation League et al., v. State of California and the California State Controller, Case No. RG12-626904, invalidating CEQA’s “fast-track” provisions in Public Resources Code section 21185(a)(1).  The statute provides, for certain qualifying “leadership projects,” that an action to challenge such projects under CEQA must be filed in the Court of Appeal in the first instance, bypassing both the Supreme Court and the Superior Courts.  Judge Roesch found the fact that the statute deprived the Supreme Court and Superior Courts of their original jurisdiction to be “patently unconstitutional” and in direct conflict with the grant of original jurisdiction in Article 6, section 10 of the California Constitution.  The Court did not, however, invalidate any other provisions of the fast track law.

Undoubtedly this case will be appealed, but for now, any challenges to qualifying “leadership projects” under CEQA in Alameda County will need to be filed in the superior court.  Meyers Nave will continue to monitor this case and provide further updates as they become available.