City Is Not Required To Consider Environmental Impacts From Use Of Property As Affordable Housing Where Such Use Is Not Reasonably Foreseeable

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On January 4, 2012 the California Sixth District Court of Appeal held that a City’s Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was required to consider only reasonably foreseeable consequences of the sale of city-owned property. The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea owned land known as the Flanders Mansion property, which had historically been used for numerous low-intensity uses. The City approved a FEIR following its decision to sell the mansion. The report concluded that because the use of the property was constrained onlyto historical uses, a lease to another entity for a future use, such as an affordable housing project, was not feasible. The Flanders Foundation challenged the City’s approval and argued that the City did not sufficiently examine the potential environmental impacts associated with application of the Surplus Land Act which requires agencies to offer to sell or lease property to certain entities for affordable housing or park purposes before it offers the property to the general public.

The Court held that the City was not prohibited from selling the Mansion, and that it was not reasonably foreseeable that a public agency would spend millions of dollars to purchase and restore the property and accept the burden of complying with the restrictions for the purpose of using it for affordable housing. Given that such use was not foreseeable, the Court found that the FEIR was not required to consider the environmental impacts that could arise from such use.

For the full decision, see Flanders Foundation v. City of Carmel-by-the-Sea (Case No. H035818).

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