MCA Appeals to Vacate SEIR Permanently

Dear Marin citizens, Supporters, Donors and Neighborhood Leaders:

Last June we sent out notices to you with this headline:

Superior Court Strikes Down the Marin County Housing Element SEIR for Violating CEQA

The Marin Community Alliance filed its legal challenge against the Board of Supervisors County Housing Element SEIR in Oct. 2013 on the grounds that it failed to comply with State Environmental Quality Act requirements. In a long awaited court ruling, Marin Superior Court Judge Roy Chernus ruled in favor of the MCA and ordered that the County Housing Element SEIR, approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2013, be set aside as invalid unless the County conducts additional study and analysis.

The Court’s Conclusion:

“The court finds that the Housing Element SEIR violated CEQA by not conducting its own environmental analysis for the significant traffic impacts discussed above, which impact was not adequately covered in the prior CWP EIR. The petition is granted on this ground…. “

Pursuant to Pub Res Code 21168 (9)b, it is ordered that a preemptory writ of mandate shall issue directing Respondent County to set aside the certification of the SEIR, the Approvals for the Housing Element and its Statement of Overriding Considerations, and take no further action until Respondent conducts the necessary environmental review consistent with CEQA” (California Environmental Quality Act) “… and to recirculate that new document as necessary.” (Read more at home page).

Today I am announcing MCA’s appeals to that decision(see home page).  Even though our earlier decision was a victory for our Marin and its citizens, MCA decided to appeal to the higher court to expand its victory to make certain that the county will not resuscitate its far-reaching SEIR after a band-aid traffic study.  Please circulate and share this information with your email lists, neighbors and friends.  

This has been a long and arduous journey as most court battles are.  However, once you review the document attached, you will know why it is critically important that we continue to prevail in this legal challenge against the County of Marin.  In this document, MCA attorney Michael Graf outlines systematic and multiple layers of failures in how the county implemented adverse and far reaching land use laws which have significant potential and actual consequences to the lives of Marin citizens and beyond.

The brief was expertly and brilliantly crafted by Michael Graf.  Please read it.  For any person who did not understand our lawsuit or the esoteric nature of planning decisions that the county made, Attorney Graf's brief was written in a way for the average layman to understand what the county has done and the consequences of those actions.  At a minimum all should read its introduction and conclusion and then its table of contents for areas that are pertinent to you.

Some important excerpts from brief:

On Zoning change:  as you may recall many opposed the change which was done illegally with no notices to public. Note the dates.  Public, staff, and the county all argued about the zoning change in 2013 when the deed was already done in 2012. 

To implement this approach, on January 24, 2012 the County amended its zoning code to allow affordable housing to be established at the “maximum Marin Countywide Plan density range” in any area that allowed residential uses. See AR-19-1146 (referring to County Code § 22.24.020(A)). The County also exempted affordable housing projects from master plan and precise development plan requirements. Id. § 22.44.035; AR 19 E1143.

Subsequently, on November 13, 2012, the County amended the CWP (Policy CD-1.3) to exempt affordable housing projects from the requirements that developments be limited to the minimum density on lands with sensitive habitat, within the Ridge and Upland Greenbelt [RUG] or the Baylands Corridor, or lacking water or sewer systems. AR-28-F2922. 

On SEIR: we argued about its merits in 2013, and it was a supporting document to the Housing Element. Opponents argued that these 49 HE sites are potential sites and once the housing element was certified, it would not be of concern to its citizens.  It was just a planning exercise…

The 2012 HE present and future housing inventories ostensibly reviewed in SEIR will confer legal entitlements to housing projects at the stated densities. Appeal Brief P.87.

What this means is that when you wake up and see another Win Cup rising next to your neighborhood( all 49 HE sites) you will have no legal authority to stop it from happening.  We hope that the MCA lawsuit will permanently vacate SEIR so Marin citizens will have a voice to say that they do not want another Win Cup like fiasco in their neighborhood.

Lastly, this lawsuit that benefits us all, still costs money.  MCA needs to raise just over $10,000 to cover legal fees and cost of the lawsuit appeal.  Please donate what you can.  Thank You!