County prevails again in COLAB smart growth suit

November 1, 2012

A state appellate court upheld an earlier ruling Tuesday that San Luis Obispo County did not need to prepare an environmental impact report when adopting its smart-growth policies. [SLO Tribune]

The 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled against the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, which had claimed the smart-growth policies, adopted in 2005 and later revised, called for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Associate Justice Judge Kenneth R. Yegan, Presiding Judge Arthur Gilbert and Associate Justice Steven Z. Perren upheld the previous ruling by San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Martin Tangeman, saying that COLAB failed to prove the need for environmental review.

“COLAB does not reference any evidence… supporting its position,” the appellate court justices wrote.

The justices also said that COLAB misrepresented “both the content and potential effect” of the smart-growth policies. The appellate court also agreed with the superior court ruling that COLAB had criticized the policies based on ideology.

COLAB Governmental Affairs Director Mike Brown disputed the argument that the suit was ideological. Brown, who said the decision disappointed him, told the Tribune that COLAB does not plan to further appeal the decision.

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Thank you Mr. Naficy for posting a link the opinion. Understanding how CEQA puts courts in a position of reviewing whether, or not, a local government has based development decisions on any rational information is important. COLAB lost this one in the crucible of democracy at the Board of Supervisors. They didn’t have the votes. CEQA limits democratic decision making by letting the losers force a court to substitute whether the technocracy would approve the decision.

The court explained the way in which a trial court must weigh whether it will interfere with a local government decision, saying: “CEQA and its implementing regulations provide that facts, reasonable assumptions predicated on facts, and expert opinions supported by facts may constitute substantial evidence; argument, speculation, unsubstantiated opinion or narrative, clearly inaccurate or erroneous factual statements or evidence of social or economic impacts that do not result in physical impacts on the environment may not. (§§ 21080, subd. (c); 21080. 2, subd (c); 14 Cal. Code Regs., §§ 15064, subd. (f)(5), 15384.)”

Any rational observer will see how subjective CEQA’s legal standard is. The court goes on to say that “dire predictions” about the results about the resulting effect of a county or city development actions by “non-experts” fall into the category of “argument, speculation” and unsubstantiated opinion. Hence, the court is unable to actually consider the observations and rational predictions of mere voters living in the area.

The convers effect is that opinions by PhDs paid by the governmental entity or some well-heeled opposing industry or interest group who can afford to generate a post graduate term paper about effects caused by changes in development standards classify as “facts, reasonable assumptions predicated on facts, and expert opinions.” COLAB lost this one in a democratic vote, but didn’t apparently provide proof that they would have won it with the more expensive technocrats.

Lobbyists Andy Caldwell and Mike Brown file these frivolous COLAB lawsuits as a way of getting publicity and showing the people they ask money from that they “aren’t afraid to fight” the government, environs. The lawsuits cost THEM nothing, in fact they get paid to file them. It’s a no-lose situation for them. Their sucker rank-and-file PAY them to do this, that and INDIAN CASINO interests.

Smart growth =moving us off are large lots and small farms so that we cant grow and raise are own food! Is it so we can be more easily controlled?

Funny that folks who call things ‘smart-growth’ don’t know anything about the economy or business. Idiots

Roger, you are being prejudiced, bigoted and are stereo-typing, AGAIN. Oh, your statement is also INCORRECT, perhaps purposely, perhaps naively, obviously mean-spirited. Perfect Maldonado supporter!

Isn’t it ironic that our fed, state, and local governments are exempt from environmental impact reports, yet private developers must jump through hoops set by the local govt in order to get permits?

what you just said, it is just not true. All state and federal agencies are subject to the same environmental

laws and regulations.

You mean like the city of SLO’s excessive environmental regulations despite the illegal disposal of hazardous waste?

Or the lack of a local environmental impact report before the SLO Supervisors passed the plastic bag ban?

My point is that government is able to subjectively decide what hoops a private developer must jump through. As regulations increase, our rights decrease.

Mama, you obviously don’t know what you are talking about. To suggest there should have b een an environmental impact report for the plastic bag ban is absolutely absurd and makes NO common sense whatsoever.

Get real, please!

Why would having a local environmental report for a local environmental ordinance which affects every citizen in the county be absurd?

The entire premise of the ordinance was to stop the littering of the plastic bags in our county, yet there was no report showing the local impact. COMMON SENSE would have been to let the citizens of our county to decide for themselves what is best.

There are multiple stories on CCN right now that will prove my point that government regulations only hurt our local economy. Hazardous Waste Disposal, Sewage Disposal in the ocean, erroneous permit fees for private builders ($700 for a flag pole!)

I am absolutely living in the real world- and our county, state, and federal government are not making it any easier.

Mama, you truly don’t understand the purpose of and Environmental Impact Report and when and why they come into use. Read (and try to understand) the California Environmental Quality Act if you want to have some knowledge of what you are trying to talk about.

What you write really makes little common sense.

Let’s look at a few examples from the “experts”…


First, the impending ice-age, then the hole in the ozone layer, then acid rain, then global warming (now climate change) caused by green house gasses (now focuses on carbon dioxide- maybe we should all just quit breathing?)

Paper is the environmentally safe alternative for grocery bags. Wait, we must save the trees by using plastic. Wait, the plastic is now ruining the ocean, so we must go back to paper.


eggs are bad, then they are good, now I think they might be bad again? Wine is bad, now it is good. Carbs are a detriment, no they are necessary.

Here is what I know- the so called “experts” can’t seem to make up their minds. Their expert opinions change as quickly as the tides. I certainly don’t want them deciding what is best for me.

The California Environmental Quality Act is another attempt at making each citizen think globally. Excessive regulations in the name of saving our planet is not common sense. For man to think he can save the Earth is very cocky- just ask the Sandy victims on the East Coast what they think about that.

Here is a link to the opinion:

It is short and sweet; it finds that the suit had no merit. The opinion explains that COLAB’s brief made no citations to the administrative record and was unable to show any adverse environmental impacts could result from the implementation of the Smart Growth principles. The Court confirmed that Smart Growth will ensure that growth is limited sustainable resources and is therefore protective of the environment. It would be

fun to see how COLAB supporters deal with this slap in the face. Would they admit that this lawsuit was ill conceived, frivolous, and resulted in waste of tax payer resources? Probably not.