In Citizens Against Airport Pollution v. City of San Jose, No. H038781 (Cal. Ct. App. 6th Dist., June 6, 2014), Citizens Against Airport Pollution (“CAAP”) appealed the trial court’s ruling that the City of San Jose’s (“City”) approval of the eighth addendum to the 1997 Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for the Airport Master Plan did not require a supplemental EIR (“SEIR”) under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).  The Sixth District Court of Appeal  affirmed the trial court’s decision and determined that the eighth addendum’s conclusion that changes to the Airport Master Plan would not cause any new significant environmental impacts was supported by substantial evidence.  

The City began updates to the 1980 Airport Master Plan for the San Jose International Airport in 1988.  The EIR for the updated Airport Master Plan was certified in 1997, a SEIR was certified in 2003, and eight successive addenda to the EIRs analyzed the environmental impacts of amendments to the Airport Master Plan.  The eighth (and most recent) amendment was approved in 2010, and was due largely to a decrease in projections for air travel and air cargo.  The three major changes analyzed in the eighth addendum were adjustment in size and location of planned air cargo facilities, addition of general aviation facilities, and modifications to the taxiways.

CAAP claimed that the City was required to prepare a SEIR instead of an addendum for the eighth amendment to the Airport Master Plan because the amendments were so significant as to constitute a new project as a matter of law, for which a SEIR, not an addendum, was required.  CAAP further claimed that the City should have prepared a SEIR because the changes to the Airport Master Plan would cause significant, unstudied impacts on “noise, greenhouse gas emissions, toxic air contaminants, and the burrowing owl habitat.”  (Slip Op. at p. 4.)  Finally, CAAP argued that the addendum did not comply with regulations adopted in 2010 that address how to analyze greenhouse gas and climate change impacts under CEQA.Continue Reading Ground Control to Major Tom: Appeals Court Shuts Down CEQA Challenge to San Jose Airport Master Plan