The group Davis Coalition for Sensible Planning filed a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) suit against the city right at the deadline, hiring the Sacramento based firm, Soluri Meserve, to represent them in court. In the court filings, it was revealed that Davis residents Susan Rainier and Colin Walsh are the two named individuals behind the suit.
The petition challenges the council’s February 6 decision on CEQA grounds, arguing that “members of Davis Coalition for Sensible Planning are residents of the City of Davis and have personal, community and environmental interests that are directly and adversely affected by the City’s approval of the Revised Project and issuance of the Notice of Determination (‘NOD’).”
In an email to the Vanguard, Ms. Rainer stated, “My concerns are clearly stated in the No position on the ballot.”
She argued, “It is not fit for human occupation.” Ms. Rainier added, “It would be a fabulous place for (a) sun-tracking photovoltaic array that would be in the Community Choice Aggregate portfolio. Being bound on all sides by freeway and railroad would prevent theft and hook up to PGE high power (which) is right there.”
She asked, “Would you live there? Would you want your children living there?” She pointed to studies of childhood asthma and exposure to traffic.
She pointed out that the Community Health guide from the ARB (Air Resources Board) “[c]alls for sensitive buildings (housing) a minimum of 500 feet from freeway – Oops – that would be the railroad – that is even more toxic.”
The petition argues on CEQA grounds, “The City’s failures, set forth in this Petition, constitute a prejudicial abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Code of Civil Procedure and CEQA”
and that they have “no plain, speedy or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. If the City’s actions regarding the Revised Project are effectuated, Petitioner and the environment will be irreparably harmed.”
In their petition they point out that the land has had agricultural uses dating back to the 1920s, and that the original project proposed 1920 beds with a mix of multifamily residential units and rentals as well as 325,000 feet of research and development uses with 20,000 square feet of accessory retail uses.
The original EIR, they cite, “determined that the Original Project would have resulted in significant and unavoidable environmental impacts to Agriculture, Air Quality, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Noise, and Transportation. The City certified the Original EIR on or about February 2016, and also approved entitlements for the project…”
A majority of Davis voters voted against the project in June 2016.
The project was then revised in 2017: “The Revised Project omitted all 325,000 square feet of research and development uses, increased the bed count associated with residential uses by approximately 250, replaced the for-sale housing with rental units, and modified the site’s access such that primary access would be through a railroad undercrossing between UC Davis and the Nishi Property.”
In January 2018, “the City released the EIR Addendum (SCH # 201512066) in which it determined that the Original EIR adequately assessed the impacts of the Revised Project and that there were no changed circumstances or new information that would require preparation of a subsequent or supplemental EIR, or recirculation of the Original EIR.”
The petitioner argues that there is new information and new circumstances which have come available and which constitute a change of conditions and should necessitate a new or revised EIR.
They argue that “the revised project will create new significant impacts on the environment that were not previously identified,” and “the revised project will create a substantial increase in the severity of a previously identified significant impact,” and “there is new information of substantial importance that was not previously available, which shows a new significant impact, substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant impact, or mitigation measures that were not considered would substantially reduce one or more significant effects on the environment.”
They argue, “A lead agency’s findings that a supplemental or subsequent EIR is unnecessary must be supported by substantial evidence in the record.” Therefore the city’s action “constitutes a prejudicial abuse of discretion in that the City failed to proceed in the manner required by law and failed to support its decision with substantial evidence.”
They list a number of failures to adequately disclose, analyze and mitigate and then they argue, “The City further violated CEQA by adopting findings that are inadequate as a matter of law because they do not contain the findings required when approving a project based on a supplemental or subsequent EIR, and because they are not supported by substantial evidence in the record.”
They add, “As a result of the foregoing defects, the City prejudicially abused its discretion by proceeding with an EIR Addendum and approving the Revised Project in reliance thereon.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting