Sacramento Team Secures Appellate Victory on Behalf of Farmland Protection Alliance

Sacramento, Calif. (November 10, 2021) - Sacramento Managing Partner John S. Poulos and Partner Chris Rodriguez recently secured a significant win on behalf of the Farmland Protection Alliance when a California appellate court held that Yolo County should have required, and the lower court should have ordered, a full environmental impact review pursuant to the state’s Environmental Quality Act before permitting the development of a bed-and-breakfast project.

As reported in the Law360 article titled “Partial Environmental Reviews Violate Calif. Law, Court Says,” the underlying matter arose when a developer sought to proceed with a bed-and-breakfast project. The Farmland Protection Alliance and the Yolo County Farm Bureau subsequently sued the county, alleging that the project's application process violated the state's environmental review law and local laws, and that the project would significantly impact certain animals. The trial court ordered an environmental report limited to the impact on the animals, as opposed to ordering a full environmental impact review.

On appeal, a three-judge panel of California's Third Appellate District held that the trial court erred in failing to require a full environmental review, as required by the state's Environmental Quality Act. A limited review, according to the appellate court, would circumvent this law.

In discussing that Lewis Brisbois’ client was pleased with the appellate court’s decision, Mr. Rodriguez told Law360, “The project approval has been based on the mitigated negative declaration, and the court said that's not an appropriate approval." He added, "I think [this court's decision] goes a long way toward making that happen."

Mr. Poulos is a co-chair of Lewis Brisbois' Complex Business & Commercial Litigation Practice, and vice-chair of the firm's Banking & Finance and Directors & Officers and Securities Litigation Practices. He is an experienced federal and state court trial lawyer with more than two decades of experience handling complex business litigation matters. He also has experience litigating claims under CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Water Act, California's Endangered Species Act, and various other state environmental statutes.

Mr. Rodriguez is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Complex Business & Commercial Litigation Practice. His practice focuses on financial services and real estate litigation, disputes involving California state government agencies, government contracting and construction disputes, and healthcare litigation. He has also successfully litigated numerous writs of mandate proceedings, including public contracting bid protest matters and complex environmental litigation under the California Environmental Quality Act.

You may read the full Law360 article here (subscription may be required).

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