GrokSurf's San Diego

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

City of San Diego files opening briefs in appeal of SDSU’s plan to develop Adobe Falls

Posted by George J Janczyn on December 3, 2010

Overlooking the Adobe Falls area. Freeway I-8 is on the left, Mission Valley in the distance

Adobe Falls is a parcel of undeveloped land and open space adjacent to Alvarado Creek across the I-8 freeway from San Diego State University just west of College Avenue.

Since before 2005, SDSU has been pressing to implement its Master Plan project to use that land for up to 348 residential housing units for faculty and staff. Numerous lawsuits by the City of San Diego, Del Cerro Action Council, and other entities challenged the California State University’s (CSU trustees) certification of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The cases were eventually consolidated into one and last February the court entered a judgment in favor of SDSU (for details about the project and those legal actions click here).

On May 25, 2010 the City submitted notice of intent to file an appeal (Del Cerro Action Council had earlier filed an objection to the proposed statement of decision, but lack of financial resources prevented it from filing an appeal).

Just a few days ago, on Nov. 24, 2010 an appellant’s opening brief was filed by the City of San Diego and the Redevelopment Agency. On Dec. 1, 2010 the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) filed their opening brief.

Adobe Falls is considered to be the only year-round waterfall within City limits

Judges have not been determined yet. According to Gina Coburn, Communications Director for the City Attorney’s office, “The appellate court assigns a 3 panel judge but we don’t know who until they send out the notice of hearing which will be after the briefing is complete, sometime in February 2011.”

The City of San Diego [et al.] opening brief argues that the EIR was improperly certified because the approval is based on an erroneous interpretation of a different case that was cited as precedent. It also charges that CSU was “disingenuous” and abused its discretion under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by claiming it has no obligation to ensure mitigation for traffic and other issues beyond asking the State Legislature for funding (i.e., if funds were not forthcoming, CSU’s position is that it has no further obligation).

The SANDAG and MTS opening brief states that “the most fundamental violation of CEQA at issue concerns CSU’s complete failure to address the impacts that will result from SDSU’s massive increased use of public transit systems to transport additional students, faculty, staff and visitors to and from the SDSU campus.” It goes on to say that CSU “deliberately” understated automobile traffic impacts.

A response brief from CSU is due in January or February of next year.


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