COMMITTEE TO SAVE LAKE MERCED
215 STUYVESANT DRIVE
SAN ANSELMO CA 94960
PH 415-459-1153 FAX 415-456-1314
EMAIL [email protected]
June 1, 2001
Contact: Jerry Cadagan 415-459-1153
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN MATEO COURT ORDERS ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW BEFORE WATER WELL PERMITS ARE ISSUED BY COUNTY
June 1, 2001 – Today San Mateo Superior Court Judge Phrasel L. Shelton ruled that permits issued under San Mateo County’s well permitting ordinance may not be issued until the County has conducted an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
In January the County issued a permit allowing the California Golf Club to drill a water well on its property in South San Francisco. Represented by lawyer Thomas N. Lippe of San Francisco, The Committee to Save Lake Merced then filed the suit that was decided today. In that suit the Committee said that the County was required to do environmental review under CEQA before issuing the permit. The County responded by referring to a part of CEQA that says that CEQA does not apply if the County had no discretion in connection with its permitting function.
In today’s decision Judge Shelton said the language of the County’s well permitting ordinance "is sufficiently broad and open-ended to mandate the exercise of judgment and/or deliberation when called upon to approve or disapprove a particular project or activity." In the court hearing the Judge repeated that the County has the discretion to deny a well permit.
Jerry Cadagan of the Committee to Save Lake Merced expressed satisfaction with the decision, but cautioned that the real test will come when the County applies CEQA, as the Judge has ordered it to do. "I hope the County takes its obligation to the environment seriously as it undertakes the environmental review", Cadagan said. "Excessive pumping from the aquifer below parts of northern San Mateo County is threatening the drinking water supplies of three San Mateo County cities, and it is also damaging Lake Merced in San Francisco. If San Mateo County does a good job conducting the environmental analysis, we could be on our way to dealing with those problems. But if the County looks for ways to shirk its responsibilities under CEQA, those problems will only get worse", concluded Cadagan.