Legal challenge in Yolo Superior Court by California Clean Energy Committee (CCEC) against Woodland City Council approval on September 20, 2011 of Paul Petrovich’s Gateway 2 commercial development project began the court briefing stage on February 7, 2012 after a two-week extension of time. The court has now set a hearing date of April 12 for CCEC’s request for issuance of a writ of mandate voiding this project approval and relevantly conditioning future City actions.

City of Woodland’s responding brief is due to be filed with the court at the end of February.

With its opening court brief, CCEC (through its attorney, Eugene Wilson) alleges in comprehensive detail an astonishing array of blatant violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by City of Woodland, ranging from: basic conflicts between the project and Woodland General Plan (strangely ignored by the City) and bogus project mitigation schemes, to fatally flawed analyses of legally required project alternatives and environmental impacts of the project, plus unaddressed farmland conversion issues.

According to CCEC’s brief, there exist perhaps as many as a dozen separate legal grounds for the court striking down Gateway 2, which also expose several quite curious actions of City of Woodland / Woodland City Council within its process of project approval. Plus, the brief features quotes of both Councilmember Bill Marble and Paul Petrovich.

Amazingly, despite the clear, admitted fact that this project’s impacts upon downtown Woodland would be significant — the Gateway 2 Environmental Impact Report (EIR), required under CEQA — did not even contain basic elements of Woodland’s General Plan regarding the downtown area.

Underlying this shocking situation, there appears to be an obvious pattern of circumstances directed at unreasonably and unlawfully — ‘cooking’ — this EIR process toward project approval.

Objectively, it is very difficult to imagine — given the broad spectrum of numerous revelations of fact and serious (some seemingly intentional) legal violations presented within this brief — that Woodland City Council (majority) could have conducted this process in good-faith under law.

Fundamentally fatal problems apparently abound throughout the wide scope of this environmental process, in a style solidly suggesting a sordid, reckless march of municipal obedience toward the desires of Petrovich alongside stark disdain for state law and the public interest of Woodland.

____  Basic General Plan Elements Ignored By City Council  ____

Glaring conflicts with Woodland’s General Plan lead this peculiar parade.

One of the General Plan’s “guiding principles” is “to revitalize the Downtown district as the heart of the city.” The City shall “intensify Downtown Woodland as the principal retail, cultural, restaurant and commercial district of the city and region,” adds another General Plan section, while a third section states that the City “shall ensure that Downtown remains the sole central business district” and shall “retain and enhance Woodland’s quality of life, its separate identity and small-town characteristics.”

“The CEQA Guidelines provide that public agencies ‘shall discuss any inconsistencies between the proposed project and the applicable general plans,’” indicates the CCEC legal brief.

“But in its EIR the City failed to consider any of the provisions in the General Plan relating to the downtown[,] and has continued its failure to cite or discuss the goals and policies concerning the downtown,” describes the brief.

“Without ever referring to or discussing the goals and policies dealing with the downtown, the City Council approved a general plan amendment for Gateway II finding that the project did not conflict with any of the goals and policies of the general plan. [In its Gateway 2 EIR, City of] Woodland completely failed to address the downtown revitalization provisions of its general plan.”

CCEC’s court brief concludes: “The City’s failure to identify or discuss inconsistencies with the general plan was unlawful. It significantly undercut the public information function of the EIR. ‘An EIR will be found legally inadequate — and subject to review for procedural error — where it omits information that is both required by CEQA and necessary to informed discussion.’ [legal citation]. A violation of CEQA that results in a failure to disclose important environmental information is generally presumed to be prejudicial [legal citation]. ‘The failure to provide enough information to permit informed decision-making is fatal.’ [legal citation].”

Basic state Planning and Zoning Law (Gov. Code 65000 et seq.), as well, “prohibits cities from approving projects that are inconsistent with their general plans,” explains the CCEC brief, adding that this “consistency doctrine has been described as ‘the lynchpin of California’s land use and development laws; it is the principle which infuse[s] the concept of planned growth with the force of law.’”

“The City Council’s approval of the Gateway II project is valid only ‘to the extent that it is compatible with the General Plan’s objectives, policies, general land uses and programs,’” argues CCEC’s brief with relevant citations to the court, continuing: “The City of Woodland has concluded that Gateway II will have significant and unmitigated urban decay impacts. [  ] Without question such a project frustrates and obstructs the general plan policies meant to revitalize the downtown and to make it the principal retail, cultural, restaurant, and commercial district of the city and region. [  ] Consequently, it was unlawful to approve the project.”

“No reasonable person could conclude that approving a large commercial development on the periphery of the City with such highly-deleterious impacts on Downtown Woodland is consistent with the provisions of the Woodland General Plan,” according to CCEC’s court brief.

The legal standard for court review of such public agency decisions is “arbitrary and capricious,” which seems surely met through City Council approval of this project using a suspicious neglect of plainly prominent and entirely relevant policies in Woodland’s General Plan.

____  Unlawful Urban Decay Mitigation  ____

Woodland City Council, despite its startling and unlawful refusal to include basic elements of its General Plan regarding the downtown area within its Gateway 2 EIR process, seemingly had to admit the clearly obvious, that “significant and unmitigated urban decay impacts” would be nevertheless be incurred within the downtown area.

Thus, some manner of incidental, insufficient mitigation is politically due provision by the city, likely distracting public attention away from the absence of any authentic consideration of the fundamental contradictions between the project and relevant general plan principles and provisions.

This mitigation, in part (other parts just below), is referred to in the EIR as a “market study” and an “urban decay analysis.”

This study and analysis attend to future, yet to be determined, site-specific uses within the development project, evaluating various impacts according to then perceived retail-demand indications and perhaps requiring mitigation measures.

“Piecemealing is unlawful under CEQA,” declares the CCEC brief.

“The City cannot break the urban decay analysis down into distinct segments or phases for analysis because that obscures the cumulative urban decay impact. Agencies may not chop a project into smaller units in order to avoid consideration of the entire project.”

“Staff is to evaluate the environmental impacts and approve the necessary mitigation,” observes the CCEC brief, continuing comment on urban decay mitigation in the EIR. “These functions are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the City Council. ‘The agency’s decision-making body must adopt the findings required by CEQA itself; it may not delegate the duty to make findings to agency staff or a subordinate body. [legal citation].’”

“[T]he Market Study mitigation adopted by the City of Woodland [  ] has handed the issue off to [staff],” contrary to CEQA, insists the CCEC brief. “The issue of urban decay mitigation will be resolved without notice and behind closed doors.”

Such unlawful municipal conduct also recently occurred related to City Council approval of the Chase Bank project at Walnut and Main Streets. On that occasion, city staff (per intentions of City Council) issued a finding of consistency of this project with Woodland’s Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) — but failed to issue a public notice of this determination — obstructing application of DSP provisions for filing of an appeal within 10 days.

“Moreover,” argues the brief, “the issue to be decided by staff is not just the selection of a mitigation tool. It is also whether there is a significant impact, whether the impact analysis is adequate, and the general adequacy of the review under CEQA. [  ] There is nothing to assure that the mitigation would be effective. What a ‘market study’ consists in is completely undefined. The question posed is vague and undefined — whether adequate retail demand exists.’”

“[C]ommenting on the EIR,” indicates the CCEC brief, “the Yolo County Board of Supervisors pointed out[:]  ‘The future studies are barely defined and appear to be dependent on the City to initiate and complete. Once again, the EIR defers analysis and mitigation of a key impact to a later time. The mitigation measure does not constitute effective and enforceable mitigation and is inconsistent with the CEQA requirement that mitigation cannot be deferred to later studies. (legal citation).’”

____  Other Mitigation Measures Infeasible and Ineffective  ____

The Gateway 2 project contains a “Retail Strategic Plan,” purportedly to determine retail commercial areas within the city which are obsolete, and an “Implementation Strategy” for the existing Downtown Specific Plan (DSP), both items intended as project mitigation.

“Both the Zoning Study [“Retail Strategic Plan”] and Implementation Plan [DSP “Implementation Strategy”] adopted by the City are infeasible under [relevant case law citation],” argues the CCEC brief.

“The City proposes to fund the Zoning Study and the Implementation Plan with a fair-share fee, but there is no such program in existence, no commitment to establish such a program, and no commitment to implement the results of the anticipated studies.

“There is nothing to suggest that projects in the future should be expected to have urban decay impacts or that they could be required to contribute to a fair-share program.

“These proposals are completely infeasible and ill-considered. [Case law citation] demonstrates that a proposal to fund mitigation, based on a study and a fair-share fee, requires both a plausible source of funding and a commitment by the agency to implement the conclusions of the study, The City failed to satisfy both requirements. [  ] Feasible mitigation measures have not been required or incorporated into the project.”

Further, the CCEC brief finds that an EIR component intended to engage zoning matters related to County Fair Mall is “[neither] feasible or enforceable mitigation. The developer has no obligation at all, there is no time frame[,] no commitment to implement[,] no funding source, and no specification of what would be done. CEQA requires an agency, such as the City of Woodland, to take steps to ensure that any mitigation measures ‘will actually be implemented as a condition of development and not merely adopted and then neglected or disregarded.’ [relevant legal citation].”

A provision in Gateway 2 project states that “the list of specific project uses shall primarily consist of regional retail uses that do not include entertainment uses and other uses that would compete with retail in Downtown Woodland.” The CCEC brief indicates that no terms are defined in this loosely drafted text, and: ”Such vagaries are unenforceable. (CEQA Guidelines, section 15126.4(a)(2).)”

The CCEC court brief continues: “The City could have limited Gateway II to big box retailers or required Gateway II retailers to be over certain square footage or [ ] limited the types of uses in Gateway II to ones that could not be located in downtown. The City has the authority through the conditional use permit process to implement such urban decay mitigation that would protect business interests in other parts of the city from the blighting effects of Gateway II.

“Mitigation containing language like ‘consider coordinating with the current owner of the County Fair Mall’ or ‘indicate that the list of specific project uses shall primarily consist of’ is neither feasible or enforceable as required by CEQA. [relevant legal citation].”

____  Councilmember Marble Quoted In Legal Brief  ____

“Loose, open-ended provisions were the subject of considerable public concern,” states the CCEC brief. “[Councilmember Bill] Marble voted against the project [that was approved on a 3-2 majority] and explained that his concerns were connected with the failure of the real party [Petrovich] to carry through on previous commitments made to the City to build a theater at Third and Main.

Comment letters also reflected these concerns[:]”

‘Let’s not forget: the development agreement between the city and Mr. Petrovich negotiated for Gateway I made at least a feeble, if ineffective attempt at gaining something concrete for the redevelopment program. Mr. Petrovich is on the hook for a $1 million payment to the [redevelopment agency] unless he builds a significant project in the core area within an (astonishing) long period of approximately seven years from the date Gateway I opened. I find it remarkable that the city is considering rezoning and annexing hundreds of additional acres for Petrovich Development when he has done nothing to date to improve downtown, has owned a large empty parcel for several years at Main and Sixth Streets (the real ‘gateway’ to the heart and soul of the community) surrounded by a chain link fence, moved a historic house to the far edge of this parcel, which is boarded up, and has not built out Gateway I.

‘This time around, the money for redevelopment, as mitigation, needs to be substantial and paid concurrently with the build out of Gateway II and go directly to the [redevelopment agency].’”

[Editor’s note :  Woodland resident and community advocate, David Wilkinson, indicates that —  “The two paragraphs under Bill Marble’s quote starting with  ‘Let’s not forget’…. were written by me as part of the “Notice of Preparation” circulated prior to the EIR being written.”  This lengthy quote was from David Wilkinson, submitted during the project EIR Notice of Preparation. ]

____  Email By Petrovich Included In CCEC Brief  ____

On October 18, 2010, Woodland’s city manager sent Petrovich a letter raising several matters related to his performance of development obligations for Gateway 1. This letter requested about $112,000 in fees, minor modifications of two existing buildings and insisted on a certain application of a development reserve account.

The next day, Petrovich responded:

“To say I am disappointed is a complete and total UNDERSTATEMENT. Any cooperation between Woodland and my company on ALL matters between us is now over. I am going to stop now before I outline exactly what actions I will be taking.

“It’s your way or the highway. It’s your rules as you define them or else. The DA [development agreement] has no rules of interpretation. There are little or no guidelines. It’s a contract between two parties, not a unilateral agreement. The manner and way it is to be administered is between the parties. If you want to assert this un-yielding rule and demands on me, so be it. I also have the right to not agree and dispute it in court. I also have the right to make decisions on all my properties in Woodland and Yolo County as you do with all the decisions you heaped on me. Good luck ”

[Editor’s note:  This response (original email) from Petrovich also contained vivid colors for the all-caps words in this email-exchange text, in part quoted by brief.]

The CCEC brief observes that: “The public was understandably concerned about the City walking right back into such problems.”

____  Fatally Flawed Project Alternatives Analyses  ____

The Gateway 2 EIR contained various “alternative projects” [basic CEQA requirement], including a Reduced-Intensity Alternative and a Mixed-Use Alternative, both of 93 acres, contrasted with the 154 acres of Gateway 2 (later in the Final EIR reduced to and approved at only 61.3 acres).

The CCEC brief spends several pages outlining the clear fact that, for a number of important and well established environmental reasons, local and regional planning authorities generally recognize, support and promote the developmental concept of mixed-use projects

“The City Council rejects the Mixed Use Alternative because [  ] it is infeasible [  ] and because the Mixed Use Alternative would have greater environmental impacts than the proposed project,” states the Gateway 2 EIR. CCEC’s brief raises withering, seemingly decisive questions regarding this and associated findings by the City Council.

In the face of considerable public planning authorities strongly supporting mixed-use projects, observes the CCEC brief — “The City of Woodland concludes the opposite[, and] not only did the City ignore the great weight of authority on the subject and come to a clearly erroneous conclusion, it failed to proffer any evaluation to support its conclusion.

“The only basis for the City’s odd conclusion was the bald statement that the Mixed-Use Alternative — ‘would result in increased trips associated with the proposed residential uses. Therefore, it is assumed that the transportation and circulation impacts . . . would be similar to the proposed project.’

“This means nothing. Of course every potential use has some trips associated with it. The point is to compare the total number of trips. This City’s discussion is unsubstantiated speculation and does not constitute substantial evidence of anything under CEQA. (CEQA Guidelines, section 15384.)

“The EIR must ‘provide solid evidence of a meaningful review of the project alternative that would avoid the significant environmental effects. [legal citation] ‘One of [an EIR’s] major functions . . . is to ensure that all reasonable alternatives to proposed projects are thoroughly assessed by the responsible official.’ [legal citation] ‘[A]n agency must use its best efforts to find out and disclose all that it reasonably can.’ (CEQA Guidelines, section 15144.)”

The EIR-discarded Mixed-Use Alternative (93 acres) included 100 units of multi-family and 50 units of single-family residential uses and 200,000 square feet of commercial uses, including restaurants and auto-dealerships.

“The reduction in overall size and in the commercial square footage demonstrated that the Mixed-Use Alternative would have considerably lower transportation and air quality impacts,” contends CCEC’s brief.

“The City’s conclusion was clearly erroneous and factually unsupported.”

The CCEC brief adds that EIR findings about the Reduced Intensity Alternative (93 acres of commercial uses) indicated that it would produce only — “about one-third” — of motor-vehicle trips as the proposed 154 acre project.

“Obviously,” explains the CCEC brief, “a Mixed-Use Alternative, also comprised of 93 acres, would produce less transportation and air quality impacts. The City’s ‘assumptions’ are inconsistent. [  ]

“The City of Woodland’s rejection of recognized authority on the subject, lack of any support in the transportation study, ignoring the reduction in total project acreage, lack of support, and conflict with its own assumptions fall far below the showing required [under relevant CEQA case law].

“The City has produced an EIR that prejudicially misinformed the public and decision-makers about the transportation and air quality benefits of mixed-use design. The agency did not proceed as required by law and did not support its decisions with substantial evidence. ‘The core of an EIR is the mitigation and alternatives sections.’ [relevant legal citation] ‘It is the [agency’s] responsibility to provide an adequate discussion of alternatives (CEQA Guidelines, section 15126(d).) [  ] ‘An EIR must include detail sufficient to enable those who did not participate in its preparation to understand and to consider meaningfully the issues raised by the proposed project.’ [relevant legal citation].”

____  Too Leaky An EIR Analysis Of Sales Tax Leakage  ____

The City Council found in its EIR that both the Mixed-Use and Reduced- Intensity Alternatives would not meet Gateway 2 project objectives to: “capture leakage of sales from uses not already served in the community.”

CCEC’s court brief documents what amounts to the City Council’s fraudulently misleading notion of sales tax “leakage.”

“The City’s position was that 93 acres, even if it was all commercial, was just too small to do the job. Petitioner [CCEC] objected to these vague statements and got little clarification from the City.

“What the City’s response demonstrated was that the “leakage of sales” the City discussed in the EIR was not really from “the community” [of Woodland] as the City stated but from the “retail market area” [  ] for Gateway II, which extends across four counties. [emphasis added] The proposition that excessive sales are “leaking” out of “the community” [of Woodland] was misleading.

“Just how unsupported City of Woodland’s statements about [sales tax] “leakage” were become clear when the final EIR was released. At that point the public learned that the City intended to approve a downsized 61.3 acre project[,] considerably smaller than the 93-acre alternatives evaluated in the draft EIR. [T]he City’s earlier claim, that 93 acres was infeasible, was shown not only to be unfounded but grossly inaccurate.”

____  City Needed New Way To Reject Mixed-Use Alternative  ____

“At this point,” describes the CCEC brief, “the City needed a new reason to reject the Mixed-Use Alternative.”

Grasping at straws, the City claimed that “because the Mixed-Use Alternative would, overall, result in greater impacts than the proposed project, the Alternative is considered infeasible.”

CCEC’s brief explains that: “According to this theory, the City had realized that — ‘it was not [even] required to analyze the Mixed-Use Alternative in further detail in the EIR.’

“[The City] cited [a CEQA Guideline], which provides that during the initial vetting of alternatives for analysis, an agency can disregard scenarios that are not potentially feasible. To be sure, such a conclusion does not belong at the finding stage [of the EIR process, just prior to potential project approval].

“For a finding of infeasibility, the CEQA Guidelines require “specific economic, legal, social, technological, or other considerations . . . [that] make infeasible the alternatives identified in the final EIR. [  ]

“When finding that an alternative is infeasible, CEQA requires public agencies to “describe the specific reasons for rejecting each of the alternatives described in the EIR. [  ]  Further, CEQA requires that each finding be supported by substantial evidence in the record. [  ] Plainly, the City failed to do so and has not complied with CEQA.”

The City’s EIR attempts to reject the Mixed-Use Alternative by improper legal references to “schools, park and recreation facilities.”

CCEC’s brief relates that this “concept [social or economic effects] that impacts to schools are ‘environmental impacts’ was specifically rejected by the [California] Supreme Court[.]  ‘[I]ncreases in demands on public facilities, services, and utilities that will result from a project are not environmental impacts that must be evaluated in an EIR.’ [legal citation] Consequently, the City has no support for finding that the Mixed-Use Alternative would have greater ‘environmental impacts.’ [  ] The record here contains no support for the City of Woodland finding of ‘greater environmental impacts [as any valid or lawful means to reject the Mixed-Use Alternative].’”

____  No (Required) Reasonable Range Of Alternatives In EIR ____

As the CCEC brief aptly notes: “The City’s findings rejecting the two alternatives reflect a deeper flaw.”

By retroactively or otherwise unlawfully eliminating these EIR alternatives to the Gateway 2 project, Woodland City Council has fully undercut its basic ability to comply with CEQA.

“CEQA provides that the EIR should[:] “focus on alternatives to the project, or its location, which are capable of avoiding or substantially lessening any significant effects of the project[, as well as] consider a reasonable range of alternatives to the project, or to the location of the project, which: (1) offer substantial environmental advantages over the project proposal[,] and (2) may be ‘feasibly accomplished in a successful manner’ considering the economic, environmental, social and technological factors involved.’ [  ] On the City’s own theory, the Mixed-Use Alternative did not meet this standard.

“The City’s findings on the Reduced-Intensity Alternative suggest a similar failure,” contends the CCEC brief. “That alternative, on the City’s theory, should never have been considered either. The City finds that the Reduced-Intensity Alternative ‘does not meet the Project’s basic objectives.’ [  ] However, CEQA provides that the agency select for evaluation alternatives ‘that the Lead Agency determines could feasibly attain most of the basic objectives of the project.’ [relevant legal citation] Again, another wild goose chase. On the City’s theory, neither alternative should [even] have been analyzed.”

Thus, the City’s practical ability to comply with the required “alternatives analysis” under CEQA is totally collapsed.

And it gets worse for the City, in terms of further suspiciously unlawful planning process regarding how these particularly “infeasible” alternatives were selected in the first place.

CCEC’s court brief observes that: “[S]election of a range of alternatives was shielded from public review in this case because the EIR contained no explanation why the City evaluated the two alternatives selected. ‘The EIR should briefly describe the rationale for selecting the alternatives to be discussed. (CEQA Guidelines, section 15126.6(c) emphasis added.)”

____ Unlawful Shifting Within Off-Site Alternative Analysis  ____

The City explained in its EIR for the Gateway 2 project, that it would not evaluate off-site alternative to this project, because there was no suitably analogous 154 acre parcel available for development.

CCEC’s brief argues that this excuse for non-evaluation evaporated with release of the final EIR for this project. “As to the City’s refusal to consider off-site alternatives, the support for that disappeared when the City approved a 61.3 acre project.

“[W]hen the project was down-sized [from 154 acres] to 61.3 acres, the assumption that a 150 acre parcel was required was exposed as disingenuous. The City clearly failed to conduct a sufficient analysis of alternative sites because it sought a 150-acre alternative, not a 61.3 acre site. This constituted a failure to proceed in the manner required by law and deprived the public of a credible alternatives analysis.

“Considering alternative sites was particularly appropriate for this project because Gateway II is not consistent with existing land use plans. The applicant has asked the City to undertake an ad hoc revision of the General Plan. ‘A proposal to change a site’s land use designation raises issues that make consideration of alternative sites particularly relevant.’ [legal citation]”

The CCEC brief continues, remarking about the “crucial importance,” environmentally, of considering / examining alternative sites offering a contrast with the “low-density and low-transit” site which was approved.

“The City was required to consider whether a high-density, transit-intensive site in the appropriate size-range (~60 acres) could be located,” argues the CCEC brief.

____  Inadequate Environmental Impact Analysis  ____

The City failed to evaluate the “Heat Island Effect” in the draft EIR yet conceded (in the final EIR) that “the impact would remain significant and unavoidable.”

“Consequently, the EIR was required to contain a [relevant] analysis. [R]ecirculation was required because ‘a new significant impact would result from the project.’ (CEQA Guidelines, section 15085.5(a).) The discussion must include facts and analysis, not just the bare conclusions of the agency.’ [legal citation] The EIR was inadequate as a matter of law. Failing to comply with the information disclosure provisions of CEQA is prejudicial error. [legal citations]”

____  Flood Plain Relief At Project Site Unexamined  ____

One aspect of the Gateway 2 project that has not received enough public attention is the fact that its site is within the 100 year flood plain and must be raised an average of one foot — by fill dirt.

This requires excavating and importing about 450,000 cubic yards of fill dirt, installation of which would increase the maximum flood levels on the land surrounding the project site.

“The [Yolo County] Board of Supervisors,” observes the CCEC brief, “noted that the EIR fails to identify how a rise of greater than one foot in flood elevation on hundreds of acres of land adjacent to the project can be consistent with FEMA policy. [  ] This discussion must include facts and analysis, not just bare conclusions of the agency. [legal citation]”

Also: “The EIR fails to adequately identify, analyze and mitigate the excavation impacts of the project. Consequently, the EIR fails to comply with CEQA,” asserts the CCEC brief.

____  Other Contentions  ____

CCEC’s court brief contains several other legal challenges to approval of Gateway 2, including to blatant City intentions to unlawfully postpone climate-change related mitigation:

“The City of Woodland has not even included the pretense of a performance standard. Without a credible performance standard, the City is plainly involved in an unlawful deferral of the design of the [climate-change, greenhouse gas reduction] mitigation. The mitigation is defective as a matter of law. (CEQA Guidelines, section 15126.4(a)(1)(B).”

“Energy Conservation” related to the project is another item of CEQA challenge (CEQA Appendix F) by CCEC’s brief, which spends much more space on the subject (four pages) than the project EIR (less than a page).

According to the CCEC brief: “This [minor address] does not constitute a good faith effort to estimate ‘the project’s energy requirements and its energy use efficiencies, by amount and fuel type, for each stage of the project including construction, operation, maintenance, and/or other removal,’ as required by Appendix F.”

Therefore, yet another CEQA violation is apparent.

It’s hard to count them all, many of these alleged violations appearing to be meritorious claims by CCEC and decisively postured for voiding of the Gateway 2 project by the court.

Finally, there exists a formidable legal obstacle in the fact that the original EIR for the 154 acre project left a 75-foot wide buffer between it and remaining farmland.

Final EIR revision of the project to 61.3 acres leaves the remaining 90+ acres of farmland on the original project site in clear jeopardy of future pressure for development, which was not addressed or discussed in that Final EIR.

According to CEQA and CCEC, such a relevant revision of project size obviously demands recirculation of its EIR.

Concluding, the CCEC brief states that, “the EIR failed to include relevant information and analysis and therefore precluded informed decision-making and informed public participation thereby thwarting the statutory goals of the CEQA process.”