Save Our Big Trees v. City of Santa CruzAnnotate this Case
In 1976, the City of Santa Cruz sought to protect its urban forest by adopting the “Heritage Tree Ordinance,” which governs the protection of large trees and trees having other significance. The city later adopted the “Heritage Tree Removal Resolution,” which governs the removal of heritage trees. In 2013, the city amended both, concluding that these amendments were categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code, 21000) because they assured the “maintenance, restoration, enhancement, and protection” of natural resources and the environment. Save Our Big Trees unsuccessfully sought a writ of mandate directing the city to set aside its amendments for failure to comply with CEQA. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the city had the burden to demonstrate with substantial evidence that the amendments fell within a categorical exemption to CEQA and failed to meet that burden.