Historic Architecture Alliance v. City of Laguna BeachAnnotate this Case
The Historic Architecture Alliance and the Laguna Beach Historic Preservation Coalition (collectively, the Alliance) appealed the denial of their petition for mandamus relief. The action involved a decision by the City of Laguna Beach and its City Council (collectively, the City) to approve real parties in interest Ian Kirby and Cherlin Kirby’s (the Kirbys) application to renovate and build an extension on an existing single-family dwelling listed in the City’s “Historic Resources Inventory.” Because of this listing, the Kirbys’ residence was considered a presumptive historical resource under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Alliance asserted the showing it made before the City was sufficient to support the historical resource exception, which stated: “A categorical exemption shall not be used for a project which may cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of a historical resource.” The Alliance asserted the project caused a substantial adverse change in the significance of a historical resource and preparation of an EIR or a mitigated negative declaration was required. The Court of Appeal concluded substantial evidence supported the City’s finding the project was exempt under the historical resource exemption because it was consistent with the Secretary’s Standards. The Court further concluded the fair argument standard did not apply where application of the historical resource exemption and the historical resource exception depended on the same issue—whether the project complies with the Secretary’s Standards. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.