Lake Norconian Club Foundation v. Department of CorrectionsAnnotate this Case
The former hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When it opened in 1929, it was a luxury resort; the Spanish Revival-style building contains Heinsbergen murals, stenciled ceilings, exquisite tile, and wrought-iron light fixtures. In 1941, the building transferred to the U.S. Navy. It was used as a military hospital until 1962 when it was transferred to the state. Since 1963, the Department has operated a prison adjacent to the building, which served as administrative offices. In 2002, the Department moved its staff from the building and offered to donate it to the City of Norco. The transfer did not occur; 2012 legislation required the prison’s closure. The Department published a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), indicating that there was no funding for repair or rehabilitation and that continued deterioration is expected. The Legislature rescinded the closure order. The final EIR was subsequently certified. The Department indicated that it would not be able to repair or maintain the former hotel due to inadequate funds and higher, mission-critical maintenance priorities. The Foundation repeatedly encouraged the Department to perform necessary maintenance, then unsuccessfully sought a writ of mandate, alleging that the department failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Public Resources Code 21000 by allowing the “demolition by neglect” given the 2014 El Niño rains. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the petition. The Department’s inaction is not a “project” subject to CEQA.