Friends of Glendora v. City of Glendora, No. B215114 (2009) available at CourtWebsite
In Friends of Glendora et al. v. City of Glendora et al., the Court of Appeal recently reaffirmed that a public agency has the authority to charge a reasonable fee for filing a CEQA appeal of an agency decision. The court decision is significant because it involves an appeal of a negative declaration rather than an EIR. The court, citing the California Supreme Court case of Sea & Sage Audubon Society, Inc. v. Planning Com., found that a city is authorized to charge a reasonable fee for the appeal of a CEQA decision, including a negative declaration.
Friends of Glendora (Friends), a nonprofit organization, filed a complaint alleging that the City of Glendora violated CEQA when its planning commission approved a development project based on a negative declaration and then charged Friends $2,000 to file an appeal. The court stated that under Government Code section 66451.2 a city is authorized to “establish reasonable fees” for various procedures including the appeal of a decision by the planning commission to the city council. The court further explained that the Sea & Sage Audubon Society, Inc. decision approves fees imposed by a local entity such as a city on members of the public.
Friends sought to differentiate this case from Sea & Sage Audubon Society, Inc. by arguing that the appeal involved in this case concerned a planning commission decision based upon a negative declaration rather than an EIR. Friends argued that CEQA does not explicitly state that a fee may be imposed for the appeal of a decision approving a negative declaration.
The court, following the same logic that was used by the California Supreme Court in Sea & Sage Audubon Society, Inc., rejected Friends’ argument. The court stated the Supreme Court did not require a specific statutory authorization for a filing fee under CEQA for the appeal of an agency decision when an EIR was concerned, thus they declined to require such specific authorization for a filing fee when a negative declaration was involved.