Citizens for the Restoration of L Street v. City of Fresno, et al., No. F066498,(Cal. Ct. App. 5th Dist., August 28, 2014)
In a two-part opinion, the Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment and writ of mandate, finding that the City of Fresno’s Municipal Code did not delegate authority to its Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to approve CEQA documents, including the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) at issue. The Fifth District also upheld the trial court’s holding that the substantial evidence standard, not the fair argument standard, governs review of decisions regarding designation of historic resources.
The Project, a small 1.29 acre residential infill development in downtown Fresno, required demolition of two homes—one of which was previously designated a “Heritage Property” under the Municipal Code—necessitating a demolition permit from the HPC. In concert with its approval of the demolition permits, the HPC also reviewed and approved the Project MND, concluding that demolition of the two homes would not cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of an historical resource. Citizens for the Restoration of L Street (“Citizens”), a local association, appealed the HPC’s adoption of the MND. The City Council heard Citizens’ appeal, and passed a motion: (1) upholding the HPC’s finding that neither of the two homes was an historical resource under CEQA; (2) electing not to exercise its discretion to designate the homes historical, or the Project area an historical district; and (3) upholding the HPC’s approval of the CEQA findings and MND. Shortly thereafter, both homes were demolished.Continue Reading Is It Historical Under CEQA? Court Confirms Substantial Evidence Remains the Standard