Lawsuit Halts Development of New City in Riverside County

A California court recently rejected Riverside County’s approval of the Villages of Lakeview, a massive development for 34,000 new residents. The firm represented the Friends of Northern San Jacinto Valley and Sierra Club in coalition with other allies.

Representing the Friends of Northern San Jacinto Valley and Sierra Club, SMW filed a lawsuit challenging the County’s approval of the Villages of Lakeview project under the California Environmental Quality Act and State Planning and Zoning Law. The proposed development, which included 11,150 residential units and 500,000 square feet of commercial space, would have exacerbated air quality impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, and traffic congestion in an already polluted and gridlocked region. The new city would have harmed sensitive wildlife species in the adjacent San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

Similar lawsuits were filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the City of Riverside. The Court consolidated the three cases.

The lawsuit successfully argued that the County failed to properly analyze numerous aspects of the project, including impacts to climate change, air quality and public health, regional traffic, and biological resources. The court found that the County also failed to consider the growth-inducing effect of the project, even though the County admitted it hoped the project would form the core of an entirely new city. SMW and its allies also showed how the new development failed to comply with the County’s general plan and the County’s own ordinances, which were designed to move Riverside County away from patterns of endless sprawl.