Our friends at CBIA bring us the following legal update: The Second District Court of Appeal has approved a city’s right to charge a fee to a project opponent who appeals its CEQA decision from a planning commission to a city council.
In Friends of Glendora v. City of Glendora, the City’s approval of a negative declaration (ND) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for a 125-bed assisted-living facility was challenged by neighbors of the project. After the planning commission approved the CEQA document, the opponents filed an appeal to the City Council. The City charged them $2,000 for the administrative costs of the appeal. The opponents paid the fee under protest.
The City Council approved the ND as well, and the opponents went to court. The opponents claimed that the City should have prepared an environmental impact report rather than a ND. They also claimed that they should not have been charged any fee because as a member of the public they were in a privileged position, and the imposition of a fee was just a scheme for taxing the public into silence and submission.
The court found that CEQA authorizes the imposition of a fee for procedures such as an appeal and there is no indication the Legislature intended to prohibit the imposition of a fee upon project opponents.
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