GrokSurf's San Diego

Local observations on water, environment, technology, law & politics

SDSU’s expansion project in Del Cerro’s Adobe Falls a step closer to reality

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 4, 2010

Judge issues ruling on case challenging SDSU’s Master Plan EIR

Last July I wrote an article in which I explored Alvarado Creek and its path from La Mesa to Adobe Falls in Del Cerro and on to the San Diego River. Adobe Falls was ultimately to become its own story, though, as I learned more about SDSU’s Master Plan project to build residential housing for faculty and staff in the Adobe Falls area and the ongoing legal challenges that ensued. The story was entitled Alvarado Creek and the future of Adobe Falls.

When I wrote that story there were still unresolved legal challenges to SDSU’s project, specifically the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and I encountered ongoing obstacles in following the legal developments. Indeed, after writing the story, I wasn’t able to access the casefile any more. That process is documented in my Adobe Falls updates post.

Both of those posts contain detailed background information including links for the EIR, the Master Plan, and more.

Today, I finally made some progress. Although the clerk in the public records office again informed me that the casefile was not available, after I pleaded how long I’ve been trying to get my hands on it she contacted the department and they (reluctantly) agreed to allow me limited access to it, but only in the clerk’s presence.

I had already seen the older casefile documents, but regarding new developments, I was only allowed to see one item — a Proposed Statement of Decision that Judge Thomas P. Nugent issued. I could choose to have the clerk stand over me while I read it or she could make a copy for me. I took the copy!

My informal reading of the major challenges is: 1) the EIR fails to identify, mitigate, and consider alternatives to local & regional traffic impacts; 2) the EIR fails to provide correct or adequate fair share calculations; 3) the EIR fails to adequately identify impacts to or mitigation measures to reduce impacts to area population and housing stock; 4) the EIR fails to provide analysis or description of proposed open space and/or recreational facilities; 5) the EIR fails to adequately identify or mitigate for impacts to Adobe Falls Creek and surrounding riparian wetlands, or to native plant habitat, open space, or visual character.

The judge’s Proposed Statement of Decision was filed on Jan 13, 2010 and essentially dismisses all challenges to SDSU’s 2007 EIR.

One issue that particularly interested me was water (!). The Petitioners argued that SDSU’s EIR did not adequately examine the development’s impacts on the city’s (limited) water supply. The judge ruled, however, that the EIR had specifically addressed both water supply impacts and water delivery infrastructure impacts and that they were adequately addressed and supported by substantial evidence.

In his Conclusion, the judge says “This Proposed Statement of Decision shall become final within fifteen days unless either party files objections thereto pursuant to California Rules of Court, §3.1590(f). Any objections shall be limited to alleged errors of fact or law. Attempts to reargue the case will not be considered.”

I was not permitted to see additional new documents that apparently represent objections to the decision statement. I was told the department is probably going to put together a new volume for the case (it already has 6 volumes); that probably means more paperwork is expected while the new objections are heard. Since the objections can only pertain to errors of fact or law in the decision, though, it seems pretty clear to me that at this point, there’s not much more standing in the way of the project, other than SDSU and CSU finding money to pay for it.

For the long term, I intend to continue following the project after the legal issues are resolved. I’ll keep all further updates in the Ongoing Topics page on the menu bar at the top of this blog.

Added Feb 5: PDF copy of the Proposed Statement of Decision (will open in new tab)

[updated Feb 5 to emphasize the likelihood that there are objections or challenges to the decision]

[Feb 8 – It’s curious that the local mainstream news media hasn’t written a word about the judge’s ruling. I wouldn’t think it’s because it is a proposed statement of decision, because the media had plenty to say when a proposed decision was announced regarding the QSA water transfer business! I don’t care if they mention my blog post or not, but isn’t this a topic of broad importance?]

Revised SDSU Master Plan

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