Victory for farmland

Great News! In a precedent-setting decision announced yesterday, Superior Court Judge Barry Baskin ruled against the City of Oakley, denying its request to move forward with its plans to build a housing development on Delta floodplain and farmland. Greenbelt Alliance had sued Oakley to force consideration of the environmental impact of sprawling onto more than 1,600 acres of important agricultural land.

“Inexplicably, the City failed to consider a reasonable range of mitigation measures or potentially feasible alternatives to lessen the impact to important farmland,” the judge stated. The court went further and rescinded the approval of the environmental impact report for the project, effectively halting the development.

“This is a huge victory for the Bay Area and the state, because cities will have to protect farmland. They can’t just disregard environmental concerns,” said Christina Wong, Greenbelt Alliance Field Representative.

The judge also scolded Oakley for not explaining “why it could not require the developer to acquire similar farmland for conservation purposes, elsewhere in the county.” According to Attorney Winter King of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, “This sends a clear message that public agencies cannot circumvent the intention of the California Environmental Quality Act. Cities can’t just pave over farmland without compensating for that loss.”

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