County's smart growth policies upheld



Whether or not San Luis Obispo County’s so-called “smart growth” policies are in fact wise depends on who you ask. It appears, however, that they are legal.

On Oct. 30, the California Second District Court of Appeals shot down a challenge to SLO County’s “Guiding Principals for Smart Growth,” which, initially adopted as a resolution in 2005, basically govern where and to what extent development can occur.

The appellants in the case—the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business (COLAB) of San Luis Obispo County—essentially argued that the policies necessitated an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act. In the ruling, the judges noted that it was COLAB’s burden of proof to show that evidence existed that the county’s policies would have a significant environmental impact.

“COLAB does not reference any evidence in the administrative record supporting its position,” the ruling reads. “It also mistakenly represents both the content and the potential effect of the [smart growth policies] and their implementing strategies.”

In its ruling, the appellate court upheld an earlier similar ruling by San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Martin Tangeman, who ruled that COLAB’s argument was ideological.

County Supervisor Adam Hill applauded the appellate decision in an e-mail to New Times: “Two courts and four judges have now affirmed what I have said all along about COLAB’s leaders—they have no evidence to support their wild, ideological claims, and they willfully misrepresent others’ arguments.”

COLAB Spokesman Mike Brown said he was disappointed in the ruling, which he called a “somewhat strange decision” that would lead to the “piecemealing” of environmental review processes in future developments.

He added that there’s no word yet as to further legal action on the part of COLAB.

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