Ione Valley Land, Air, and Water Defense Alliance v. County of Amador: Denying Petitioners a Second Bite at the Apple
Ione Valley Land, Air, and Water Defense Alliance v. County of Amador: Upholding a partially recirculated EIR and rejecting old arguments barred by res judicata. The Third Appellate District upheld the County’s partially recirculated EIR against a challenge to as to the adequacy of the revised traffic analysis, among other issues.
The proposed project would include a 278-acre quarry and 113-acre processing and transportation center. In 2012, the County approved the project and certified and EIR. Petitioners challenged the EIR, and the trial court found two problems with the traffic analysis. The trial court otherwise upheld the adequacy of the EIR. The County complied with the writ by revising the traffic analysis and recirculating that portion of the EIR and ultimately re-approving the project. Petitioners sued again, arguing again that the EIR and the recirculated traffic analysis were inadequate.
The court held that all claims other than those related to the recirculated traffic analysis were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Relying on Citizens for Open Government v. City of Lodi (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 296, 324-327, the court reasoned that all claims that were or could have been brought in the first petition were barred. The fact that the entire EIR had previously been decertified was immaterial. Rather, the material fact was that the EIR components had already been litigated and resolved. Unchanged EIR sections could not be challenged for a second time.
The court also rejected petitioners’ argument that the County should have revisited impacts or issues that had changed since the original EIR was certified. This argument was raised for the first time on reply and was not considered.
Finally, the court rejected petitioners’ new arguments as to the adequacy of the revised traffic analysis. The County had fixed the technical inaccuracy in the original EIR. It also adequately responded to comments and addressed changed traffic circumstances. That was enough.