Citizens for Environmental etc. v. State ex rel. 14th Dist.Annotate this Case
The 14th District Agricultural Association and its Board of Directors administers the Santa Cruz County Fairground which, since 1941, has been the venue for various events, including equestrian and livestock events and the annual county fair. The trial court denied a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief filed by appellants Citizens for Environmental Responsibility, Stop The Rodeo, and Eric Zamost, under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Appellants claimed the District violated CEQA by approving a notice of exemption (NOE) from environmental review for a rodeo held by real party in interest Stars of Justice, Inc., at the Fairground in October 2011. The exemption was pursuant to CEQA’s regulatory guidelines for a Class 23 categorical exemption for “normal operations of existing facilities for public gatherings.” Appellants contended the exemption was inapplicable because: (1) the rodeo project expressly included mitigation measures in the form of a Manure Management Plan, in effect acknowledging potential environmental effects; and (2) the unusual circumstances exception to categorical exemptions applied because storm water runoff flowed over the Fairground where cattle and horses defecate and into an already polluted creek. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed.