The state appellate court has rejected Save Livermore Downtown's petition for a rehearing after previously denying the group's appeal against the city's approval of a 130-unit affordable housing development.
The court also opted to certify its ruling as a published opinion, granting requests submitted from multiple organizations throughout the month of January, including the city of Livermore and developer Eden Housing, Inc. as well as the California Building Industry Association and state deputy attorney general Andrew R. Contreiras, among others.
Presiding Justice Alison M. Tucher authored the opinion and Justices Carin Fujisaki and Ioana Petrou concurred.
"The City of Livermore is pleased that the Court of Appeals denied the request for rehearing and that it reaffirmed its decision which upheld the City of Livermore's approval of the project, and contains its determination that Save Livermore Downtown's lawsuit was meritless," city attorney Jason Alcala told Livermore Vine in an email.
"The City also appreciates the Courts' decision to publish the opinion so that it becomes binding law in California. The decision has garnered significant interest to curb the abuses inherent in CEQA litigation that enable parties to needlessly delay much needed housing projects," Alcala added.
SLD filed its appeal last April after the initial lawsuit was denied in Alameda County Superior Court back in February of 2022.
The appellate court's decision marks another setback for the group that has been advocating for the housing to be relocated to an undetermined location and for a public park to be built on the current project site in downtown Livermore instead.
SLD's case hinged on the argument that the plans for the project are inconsistent with the city's own Downtown Specific Plan and violate state environmental requirements.
However, the appellate court agreed with the trial court that SLD's arguments "lack merit" and determined that there was "no abuse of discretion in the trial court's ruling."
SLD spokesperson Jean King told Livermore Vine that the group is "not giving up" and is considering all of its available options, including filing a petition with the Supreme Court of California to review the appellate court's decision.
"In denying our petition for rehearing, the Court of Appeal overlooked many appellate court decisions that do not allow a city to approve a development project when it is inconsistent with a planning requirement that is 'fundamental, mandatory, and clear.' SLD presented evidence to the trial court and the Court of Appeal that the Eden Housing project is inconsistent with several design requirements in the Downtown Specific Plan that are fundamental, mandatory, and clear but the Court of Appeal ignored these legal requirements in rejecting SLD’s challenges to the City of Livermore’s approval of the Eden Housing project," King said.
King also reiterated the group's stance that it is not opposed to affordable housing in general but rather the location planned for this particular project.
"SLD simply believes that the central parcel in downtown Livermore should be revitalized with the development of an attractive and captivating central park for the community, nearby residents, and visitors alike," she said.
The group maintains that there is a site north of Railroad Avenue that "could provide more units to a wider range of residents." However, the current project location at the southeast corner of Railroad Avenue and L Street was initially purchased by the city in 2007 with the intention to build affordable housing. The city has also already sold the land to Eden Housing, Inc. to develop the project.