Court of Appeal Requires Strict Compliance with CEQA 30-Day Public Notice Requirements

The California Court of Appeal, in Latinos Unidos De Napa v. City of Napa, 196 Cal. App. 4th 1154 (June 27, 2011), held that the City of Napa (“City”), which filed a CEQA Notice of Determination (“NOD”) with the County Clerk’s office, did not satisfy the 30-day posting and filing requirement when the notice was removed from the County Clerk’s office mid-day on the 30th day. As a consequence, the plaintiff, an affordable housing advocate group, was allowed 180 days from the City’s approval of the project to challenge the CEQA NOD under Public Resources Code section 21167(a).

Public Resources Code section 21152(c) requires a County clerk to post the NOD “for a period of 30 days.” The Court looked to Code of Civil Procedure section 12 for clarification on the timing requirement and determined that the “30-day” period excludes the first day of posting and includes the last day. The Court clarified that “the NOD must be posted for the entire last (30th) day to satisfy the 30-day posting requirement.” 196 Cal. App. 4th at 1157-1158. Since the City only posted the NOD for part of the 30th day, and not until the County Clerk’s office closed, the 30-day notice requirement was not met. The City argued that because it filed the NOD with the County Clerk that action alone satisfied the 30-day posting and filing requirement of Public Resources Code section 21152, relying on CEQA Guidelines section 15094(g). However, the Court of Appeals determined that CEQA Guidelines section 15094(g), like Public Resources Code section 21152, provides that a NOD must be both filed and posted, and thus rejected the City’s argument.