August 2, 2013

CEQA, oil-refineries-tax opinions filing Monday

The Supreme Court on Monday morning will file opinions in two civil cases that were argued on the court’s early-May calendar. The opinions will issue right at or very near the court’s 90-day deadline. They are the last of early-May cases.

In Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, the court will answer this question: Under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.), is a public agency required to evaluate a project’s potential traffic and other impacts using a baseline consisting of the existing physical conditions in the affected area during the period of environmental review, or may an agency elect to evaluate the impacts of a project only against projected future conditions?

Western States Petroleum Assn. v. State Board of Equalization raises these issues: (1) Was the economic impact statement prepared by the State Board of Equalization prior to adopting Property Tax Rule 474 (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 18, § 474) adequate under the standards prescribed by Government Code section 11346.5? (2) Is Property Tax Rule 474 inconsistent with Revenue and Taxation Code section 51, subdivision (d), and thus invalid pursuant to Government Code section 11342.2?

Only four of the court’s seven justices will decide the Western States case. Three pro tem justices are sitting in place of recused Justices Baxter, Chin, and Corrigan.

The opinions can be viewed online Monday beginning at 10:00 a.m.

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