November 2012

Recommendations for Complying With Ballona Wetlands’ Definitive Rejection of “Converse-CEQA” Analysis

Environmental Law Institute
Jennifer L. Hernandez | Chelsea Maclean

On March 21, 2012, the California Supreme Court denied the petition for review and requests for depublication of the Second District Court of Appeal’s opinion in Ballona Wetlands Land Trust et al. v. City of Los Angeles (Ballona Wetlands). Ballona Wetlands held that the environment’s effects on a proposed project do not have to be analyzed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), thereby creating the likelihood that a wide range of impacts previously analyzed in CEQA documents will now be considered outside the CEQA’s statutory authority. Ballona Wetlands gained considerable attention with several organizations requesting depublication, including the Planning and Conservation League, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Environmental Defense Center, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

While the Supreme Court’s denial of review cannot be afforded any legal significance, the court’s denial leaves the opinion intact as controlling appellate law on all superior courts throughout the state. This Article analyzes the Ballona Wetlands opinion and suggests practical recommendations for addressing impacts of the environment on projects under the CEQA.

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