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Quote of the Day - If a man happens to find himself, he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life. - James A. Michner

Finally, Some Sanity In CEQA Land Use Decisions

One of my favorite cities, Carmel-by-the-Sea (isn't that a great name for a city?) decided to sell the Flanders Mansion (a historical mansion it owned) because it was tired of paying the upkeep.  True to California law, it completed an Environmental Impact Report (here known as a Final Environmental Impact Report).  As part of that FEIR, the City determined that it did not need to analyze the low-income housing componet because the mansion was subject to certain land use restrictions that would prevent use as a low-income house.

Think about that one logically.  It's a mansion, not a project

The Flanders Foundation is trying to raise money to buy the house from the City, but they have been unable to reach an agreement with the City.  So, when the City decided to sell the mansion, the Foundation did what everyone in California does when they are trying to stop development:  they filed a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit, challenging the City's failure to analyze the low-income housing component required by EIRs. 

At the trial Court, the Foundation won.  The trial court ruled that since CEQA requires analysis of low-income housing and that component was missing in the FEIR, the City had to redo the FEIR.  That apparently bought the Flanders Foundation time to raise more money to buy the mansion.

As with many trial court wins, that ruling wasn't the final decision.  You can read the Court of Appeal's opinion here.  The Court of Appeal looked at the case and essentially said, "Get real."  Given the multiple historical restrictions on the use of the mansion, it could not be used for low income housing, so what was the sense in forcing the City to review the low-income housing component in the FEIR?

Logic won, and that translates into a valid FEIR, allowing the City to sell the mansion.

Anybody got multiple millions?  I don't know what it's worth, but it is surrounded by parkland and in a beautiful area.  If you won the lotto, you may be in business.


Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, January 04, 2012

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