San Diego, CA – The Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF), in highly publicized litigation involving the City of San Diego’s compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), today sought an award of attorneys’ fees for the successful prosecution of its case as decided by the Court on May 26, 2011.
Judge Linda B. Quinn today indicated she was unwilling to grant an award at this time, instead finding the request premature in light of multiple additional lawsuits currently pending on issues relevant to her original order. Calling her decision “without prejudice,” Judge Quinn admonished the City that when the request becomes ripe in the future, it will likely be for significantly more fees than CERF is currently asking. In essence, the Judge was telling the parties to reach a settlement.
Regarding the fees sought, lead attorney Marco Gonzalez of Coast Law Group said: “CERF has repeatedly offered to settle this case for a fraction of the fees we were seeking, while promising a portion of them back to the City for use in conducting environmental review. CERF remains committed to its ultimate goal – a better City process to ensure environmental protections when the City approves qualifying special events in the future.”
In the past months, San Diego City Council has attempted to remove future liabilities under CEQA by amending its municipal code sections pertaining to park use permits and special events permits. These efforts have been haphazard, and CERF does not believe they will withstand judicial scrutiny. In light of today’s court decision and related statements, CERF believes it’s time for the City to finally work on a comprehensive solution.
“While this litigation has been first and foremost about clean water protections, we hope the increased awareness of the City’s unwillingness to follow CEQA in all of it Special Events permitting will eventually lead to an appropriate fix,” said Coast Law Group associate Livia Borak, who has collaborated extensively on the case.