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Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment v. County of Los Angeles

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Six

November 26, 2007, Filed

No. B189116

Opinion

 [**452] 

GILBERT, P. J.—In Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment v. County of Los Angeles (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 715 [131 Cal. Rptr. 2d 186] (Scope I), we held that the water service portion of an environmental  [***2] impact report (EIR) must analyze the actual amount of water that will be available for a project. In Scope I, the EIR for the West Creek residential subdivision did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.). 1 It relied on contractual entitlements to water. Because this water is not of the “wet” variety, it has been called “paper water.”

After remand, the County of Los Angeles (County) revised and recertified the West Creek EIR. Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment (SCOPE) again challenges the water services portion of the EIR. This time, SCOPE focuses on the EIR's analysis of a water transfer agreement and remediation costs for perchlorate contamination of water wells. The trial court denied SCOPE's petition for writ of administrative mandate.

After the trial court denied SCOPE's petition, our Supreme Court decided Vineyard Area Citizens for Responsible Growth, Inc. v. City of Rancho Cordova (2007) 40 Cal.4th 412 [53 Cal. Rptr. 3d 821, 150 P.3d 709] (Vineyard). Vineyard states four principles governing the analysis of the water services portion of an EIR. We  [***3] conclude the West Creek EIR satisfies all four principles.

FACTS

Background

In the 1950’s, the Legislature and the voters approved the State Water Project (SWP). It was designed to deliver 4.23 million acre-feet of water annually. It is managed by the Department of Water Resources (DWR).

The DWR contracted to deliver water to water agencies throughout the state. The contracts entitle the agencies to specified amounts of water calculated on the designed capacity of the SWP. Only half of the SWP was constructed. The completion of the SWP was an expectation that has not grown beyond a hope. There is no reasonable expectation that the original plan will ever be completed. This leaves a vast difference between the amount of water to which the local agencies are entitled, and the amount of water the SWP can actually deliver.

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157 Cal. App. 4th 149 *; 68 Cal. Rptr. 3d 449 **; 2007 Cal. App. LEXIS 1938 ***; 37 ELR 20288

SANTA CLARITA ORGANIZATION FOR PLANNING THE ENVIRONMENT et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Defendant and Respondent; NEWHALL LAND AND FARMING COMPANY et al., Real Parties in Interest and Respondents.

Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment v. County of Los Angeles, 2007 Cal. App. LEXIS 2142 (Cal. App. 2d Dist., Dec. 14, 2007)

Request denied by Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment v. County of Los Angeles (Newhall Land & Farming Company), 2008 Cal. LEXIS 3121 (Cal., Mar. 12, 2008)

Prior History:  [***1] Superior Court of Santa Barbara County, No. 1043805, James W. Brown, Judge.

Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment v. County of Los Angeles, 155 Cal. App. 4th 660, 66 Cal. Rptr. 3d 559, 2007 Cal. App. LEXIS 1605 (Cal. App. 2d Dist., 2007)

Disposition: The judgment is affirmed. Costs on appeal are awarded to respondents and real parties in interest.

CORE TERMS

Settlement, permanent, environmental, mitigation, contamination, perchlorate, afy, invalidating, contractors, decertified, revised, acquisition, tiered, anticipated, recertified

Civil Procedure, Judgments, Preclusion of Judgments, Law of the Case, Business & Corporate Compliance, Environmental Law, Assessment & Information Access, Environmental Impact Statements, Environmental Law, Administrative Proceedings & Litigation, Judicial Review