Berkeley Plaza Continues Construction Following CEQA Victory

Legal Challenge to Downtown Berkeley Mixed-Use High-Rise Struck Down
– The Registry

The Registry covered Manatt’s complete merits victory secured by partner Andrew Bassak for HSR Berkeley Investments, LLC, and Rhoades Planning Group, Inc., in two CEQA challenges brought forth by Berkeley residents against a large mixed-used residential project. This matter is significant because the project is one of the first major projects in the state, if not the first, to be considered under the new CEQA infill development streamlining provisions.

The residents who filed suit claimed that the project’s environmental impact report failed to gauge the full impact of the project on the surrounding community, such as Berkeley High School. Bassak countered all claims, reiterating that a city’s certification is presumed to be valid unless a challenger can definitively show its inadequacy. On October 19, an Alameda County Superior Court judge denied the residents’ petitions, allowing construction of the project to proceed.

“This is a notable project,” remarked Bassak. “It had 34 months of public scrutiny and 35 or more public hearings. It’s one of the most scrutinized projects I’ve ever seen. It’s been looked at from every conceivable angle. We’re very pleased that we were able to get this case from the filing of the petition to the order in 9.5 months.”

Bassak was assisted by associate Chris Rheinheimer. Land use partner Kristina Lawson, with staff attorney Robia Crisp, handled the administrative land use and public agency hearings.

Read the article here