Press Release: Berkeley Hillside Preservation Group Files Suit to Require Environmental Study of 10,000 Square Foot Structure

From Attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley
Friday May 28, 2010 - 02:04:00 PM

Newly-formed unincorporated association Berkeley Hillside Preservation filed suit today in the Alameda Superior Court against the City of Berkeley, because it exempted its recent approval of a 10,000 square foot residence and 10-car garage at 2707 Rose Street from mandated environmental review under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

Wide community opposition arose when the City failed to require any environmental study of geotechnical, historic, aesthetic, and traffic impacts, and refused even to erect story poles as required by its published guidelines. 

The City claims ‘categorical exemption’ from environmental review. But the lawsuit points out that exemptions cannot be used when there is any expert opinion that a project may have environmental impacts. 

This project not only proposes an exceptionally large home, but also seeks the demolition of a c.1917 Craftsman bungalow designed by major architect Abraham Appleton. There is also expert evidence of unstudied massive grading and foundations required and potential for seismic lurching of hillside fills. It is not a typical low-impact single-family project that merits an exemption. 

The Preservation group requests issuance of a peremptory writ ordering the City to set aside its approval of the project pending compliance with CEQA. The requested environmental review will consider impacts relating to grading and excavation, demolition, traffic, and aesthetic impacts. 

Co-Petitioner Susan Nunes Fadley said: “We worked arduously on our appeal to the City Council, focussing on issues of process and the unstudied impacts of this project. Now we look to the court to address them.” 


[You read about it first in the Planet!]