COLAB sues over wildlife guidelines

June 20, 2011

A group of business owners is suing Ventura County over an environmental policy passed by the Board of Supervisors in April.

The policy, adopted to protect plants and animals, requires land owners to produce environmental impact reports when “important” species are present on agricultural lands as part of the permit process. It lists 170 “locally important species” that are not on protected lists published by any government or private wildlife groups.

Members of The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business (COLAB), say the financial cost of the new reporting requirements will have a ‘detrimental impact” on agribusinesses.

COLAB is seeking to force Ventura County to amend its environmental policy.

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The quote from Supe Bennett at the end of the linked Ventura Star article is the most compelling one. What he says is that it’s really not about species protection, but about sprawl protection.

I suppose sprawl protection is idealistically good, but why are they using a made up list of non-endangered species to push their sprawl agenda? Governmentovernment doubouble speak.

A pox upon those racists! Who are they to think they can stand up to the experts at the gubmint. The gubmint always knows best, and the gubmint doesn’t need to follow the rules it creates because it’s, well, the gubmint.

If a farmer has been farming on a plot of land for a long time, I don’t know, maybe 40 years as many of our local farmers have then leave them alone on this particular thing. Family farms are being squeezed out by big corp farms such as Dole because they can’t afford the red tape or it’s just too much hassle involved to protect their farms. Unlike our area, you’ll notice when you drive through the valley that more and more farms are big corp farms. Now counties are doing away with the Williamson Act, another assault on family farms/ranches. This is one more area where the extremely wealthy are taking over. Of course there needs to be practical regulation but let the family farms stay in business.

Yeah, I think the article got this wrong; their are two policies (I think): the original, which protects plants and animals, unicorns and rainbows (my addition); and the NEW policy of Ventura County which says, the government doesn’t have to follow this nonsense, only those pesky capitalists (my addition).

Here is the Introduction, all one has to do is read it:

1 For their Petition and Complaint, (collectively, "Petitioners") allege as follows


3 1. This case involves an attempt by the defendants to force fundamental changes in the

4 regulation of local land use, including agriculture, farming and ranching, without first engaging in

5 the studies of the effects of such changes, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act

6 ("CEQA.") On April 26, 2011, defendants replaced the existing biological resources section of

7 Ventura County's Initial Study Assessment Guidelines (which apply to the issuance of most

8 discretionary land use penn its in Ventura County) with a new and more far reaching biological

9 resources section, declaring that Ventura County's actions are exempt from CEQA. Defendants

10 filed their Notice of Exemption from CEQA on April 27, 2011, a copy of which is attached to this

11 Petition and Complaint as Exhibit "A".

12 2. By this Petition and Complaint, Petitioners challenge the decision by respondent/defendant

13 Ventura County Board of Supervisors ("VCBS"), respondent/defendant Ventura County ("VC")

14 and respondent/defendant Ventura County Resource Management Agency - Planning Division's

15 ("VCRMA") to adopt amendments to the Biological Resources Section of the County of Ventura's

16 Initial Study Assessment Guidelines - Biological Section (the "Amendments" or the "Project")

17 and the respondent/defendants' erroneous determination that the Project "fits within the Class 8

18 categorical exemption from CEQA."

19 3. As alleged more fully below, VCBS, VC and VCRMA (collectively the "VC Defendants")

20 adopted the Amendments and detennined that the Project was exempt from the requirements of

21 CEQA to prepare an Environmental Impact Report ("EIRIt) without undertaking the review and

22 analysis necessitated by the California Environmental Quality Act. The VC Defendants' failure to

23 perform the necessary review and analysis both circumvented the information gathering process

24 mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act and resulted in an uniformed decision in

25 violation of CEQA.

26 4. Accordingly, Petitioners seek by this Petition and Complaint issuance ofa peremptory writ

27 of mandate requiring the VC Defendants to comply with their obligations under the California

28 Environmental Quality Act, a declaration that the VC Defendants violated their obligations under


1 that act, and an injunction prohibiting the VC Defendants from implementing any of the

2 Amendments until such time as the VC Defendants comply with their legal obligations under the

3 California Environmental Quality Act.

Wow, whoever wrote this article didn’t draw the same conclusions that I got from the link above. Just read the introduction to the lawsuit.

The Ventura COLAB group is suing because the County of Ventura granted themselves a negative declaration for their ordinance change. That way they don’t have to go to the trouble and expense of paying for an Environmental Impact Report. You know how messy and time consuming those darn EIRs can be. The county just sort of looks the other way on their own projects. Or they’ll say it’s not a project. What rubbish.

If I’m not mistaken, that’s what got the County of SLO in the same hot water with their Smart Growth Ordinance. A countywide project with a tremendous environmental impact and they grant themselves a negative declaration. A violation of the California Environmental Quality Act of the first magnitude.

These flawed and possibly illegal activities are born within all of the coastal county planning departments. Possibly the work of political activist staff members, who knows. The point is hubris and arrogance have no place in a government organization with such great power over the public.

Let them obey the laws as would any other applicant.

Haven’t you got the memo? From the top echelons of government in the US to the bottom, the principal of lex rex is passe’, the Magna Charta is just a piece of paper.

Kings and Queens are above the law.

O.K. I read your linked newspaper article and searched the COLAB VC website. I’m left with the same conclusion that I got from reading the lawsuit itself. The reason for the lawsuit is that the County of Ventura failed to comply with CEQA. All they had to do was follow state law and follow through with an EIR.

My point is that these coastal counties seem to have adapted a cavalier attitude as their long range planners roll out these new exotic changes to their land use ordinances. If a project will have a significant effect on the environment than it does not deserve a negative declaration.

Now besides the massive amount of money that was spent on staff time to generate this document, there will be another massive amount of taxpayer dollars spent to combat the lawsuit. And don’t forget, this is a lawsuit based on a violation of CEQA, if COLABVC and their co-plaintiff prevail, they are allowed to petition the court for their attorney’s expenses and court costs. Guess where that money will come from? All because the county initially failed to follow state law.