Court grants PG&E’s reconsideration and denies Save Lafayette Trees protected tree petition

By Charles Pitts | Feb 20, 2019


Court Of Appeal Of The State Of California First Appellate District denied the petition filed by Save Lafayette Trees but granted Pacific Gas and Electric Company reconsideration regarding California Environmental Quality Act claim. 

In an opinion filed on October 23, 2018, denying the petition filed by Save Lafayette Trees but granting Pacific Gas and Electric Company reconsideration, Stuart R. Pollak, Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Four, held causes of action two, three, and four, demurrers affirmed, however reversing cause of action one, the order sustaining the City of Lafayette’s demurrer.

On March 27, 2017, per Lafayette Municipal Code 6-1705(b)(S), the City of Lafayette accepted a deal with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) authorizing and approving conditions for a ‘Major Tree Removal Project’ which required the elimination of up to 272 trees inside PG&E’s local natural gas pipeline rights-of-way.  PG&E assumed it was exempted from obtaining any discretionary permits, such as a tree removal permit.

City of Lafayette's staff disagreed with the position of PG&E.

PG&E and the City of Lafayette agreed to process the community pipeline safety initiative tree removal project under the Lafayette Municipal Code which allows the removal of a protected tree in order ‘to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the community.’

On June 26, 2017, a petition challenging the Town of Lafayette's action was filed by Save Lafayette Trees. 

Save Lafayette Trees appealed an order sustaining without leave to amend a demurrer for writ of mandate challenging the City of Lafayette's approval of a letter of agreement for tree removal.

Save Lafayette Trees felt the trial court erred in concluding that service of its petition for a writ of mandate was untimely. The Court reversed the order sustaining the demurrer to the first cause which alleged the City of Lafayette failed to comply with California Environmental Quality Act before approving the agreement, affirmed the order sustaining the demurrer as to the second cause which alleged that the city approved the agreement in violation of planning and zoning law, third cause alleged the City of Lafayette violated the due process rights of the individual petitioners by failing to provide sufficient notice of the hearing at which the agreement was approved and the fourth cause alleged the City of Lafayette proceeded in excess of authority and abused planning and zoning law.

Concurring Justices Siggins and Ross under separate writings considered briefs filed by both parties, could find no reason to alter conclusions and, therefore, reissue the ruling with alteration.

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