Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

California Oak Foundation v. Regents of the University of California

September 3, 2010

CALIFORNIA OAK FOUNDATION ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLANTS,
v.
THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



(Alameda County Super. Ct. Nos. RG 06301644, RG 06302967). Trial judge: Hon. Barbara J. Miller.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jenkins, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Appellants challenge the judgment entered after the trial court denied their petition for writ of mandate (petition).*fn1 In that petition, appellants sought to compel the Regents of the University of California (Regents) to rescind certification of an environmental impact report (EIR) prepared for seven related projects at the University of California at Berkeley (University), and its approval of the proposed Student Athlete High Performance Center (Athlete Center), the first phase of one such project.*fn2 On appeal, appellants contend the Regents violated two statutes in certifying the EIR and approving the Athlete Center: the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act (Alquist-Priolo Act), Public Resources Code, section 2621 et seq., and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Public Resources Code, section 21000 et seq.*fn3

For reasons soon explained, we conclude the Regents complied with both statutes in certifying the EIR and approving the Athlete Center project. Specifically, we conclude that, while the Athlete Center is subject to the Alquist-Priolo Act based on its proposed location within an earthquake fault zone, the Regents could properly find the Athlete Center will not be an "addition" or "alteration" to the University's California Memorial Stadium (Stadium), as defined by the statute, and thus is not subject to the statute's value restriction on certain projects coming within those definitions. We further conclude the Regents acted in accordance with CEQA in certifying the EIR because it contains sufficient information regarding the projects' likely environmental impacts, as well as feasible alternatives to or mitigation measures for those projects to avoid or minimize the identified impacts. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Appellants brought the underlying action against the Regents under the Alquist-Priolo Act and CEQA, challenging the Regents' approval of the Athlete Center project, the first phase of the California Memorial Stadium Seismic Corrections and Program Improvements Project (Stadium project), and certification of the EIR for the University's Southeast Campus Integrated Projects (Integrated Projects). The following facts are relevant to this challenge.

I. The Integrated Projects

The Integrated Projects include each of the following seven projects proposed for the southeast quadrant of the University's campus between the years 2006 and 2012: (1) the Stadium project, involving both new construction and seismic corrections and renovations; (2) the Maxwell Family Field Parking Structure and Sports Field, involving a new underground parking facility for up to 911 vehicles with a roof level sports field; (3) the Law and Business Connection Building, involving construction of a new 180,000 square foot building linking collaborative law and business school programs; (4) the Southeast Campus and Piedmont Avenue Landscape Improvements, involving landscape renovations to enhance views of the Stadium and to improve and enhance opportunities for interaction of people, bicycles and vehicles in the southeast campus; (5) the Hass School of Business Program Improvements and (6) the Boalt School of Law Program Improvements, both of which involve interior building changes designed to improve use of space and to improve access and transparency between the new Law and Business Connection Building and existing buildings; and (7) the Renovation and Restoration of 2222 to 2240 Piedmont Avenue, involving renovation and restoration of five residential houses to enhance appreciation for the historic character of those structures.

The Stadium project, consisting of three phases, is the first of the Integrated Projects scheduled to proceed. Phase I involves construction of the Athlete Center, a multi-level, 158,000 square foot structure immediately to the west of the Stadium. The Athlete Center is designed to accommodate 13 varsity sports in addition to men's football, and to provide training and program space for about 450 athletes. The Athlete Center is intended to not only address long-standing deficiencies in the quantity and quality of the University's athlete training and development facilities, but also to provide space for occupants currently housed in the Stadium. By moving these occupants out of the Stadium in Phase I, the University would be able to proceed with Phases II and III, which involve renovation and seismic retrofitting of the Stadium.

The Stadium, built in 1923, is one of the University's most treasured assets, and has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The Stadium sits astride the Hayward fault, at the point where the Hayward fault intersects with the Louderback fault. For many years, the University and various outside consultants have warned about earthquake-related public safety risks stemming from the Stadium's location, and have recommended various seismic upgrades, as the Stadium presents a seismic risk for all users, including daily and game-day occupants. In 1997, the Stadium was rated seismically "poor" under the University's seismic evaluation guidelines.

To address these concerns, Phase II involves seismic upgrades to the west side of the Stadium, in addition to construction of a new press box and installation of permanent lighting above the Stadium's west rim. Phase III involves seismic upgrades to the east side of the Stadium and construction of new seating above the Stadium's east rim.

According to the University's plan, Phase I was scheduled to begin in January 2007 and to be completed in September 2009. Planning and construction for Phases II and III would then begin once the Athlete Center was completed and occupied.

Consistent with this schedule, only Phase I was presented to the Regents for approval in conjunction with certification of the EIR. Phases II and III, along with the remaining Integrated Projects, were to be presented to the Regents for budget and design approval at a later date, at which time the Regents would also decide whether additional CEQA environmental review was necessary.

II. The EIR Process and Certification

Collectively, the Integrated Projects are part of a larger plan for developing the University's campus in the near future. Prior to 2005, the Regents initiated the UC Berkeley 2020 Long Range Development Plan. In January 2005, the Regents certified the UC Berkeley 2020 Long Range Development Plan EIR (2020 LRDP EIR). The 2020 LRDP EIR, according to the Regents, "describes the scope and nature of development proposed to meet the goals of the University through academic year 2020-2021, as well as land use principles and policies to guide the location, scale and design of individual capital projects."

The Integrated Projects are designed to provide about 20 percent of the new gross square footage and 24 percent of projected new parking anticipated by the 2020 LRDP EIR. In compliance with CEQA, the University determined the Integrated Projects could have significant impacts on the environment and that an EIR, independent from the 2020 LRDP EIR, was therefore necessary. Thus, the EIR at the heart of these proceedings was prepared.

According to the University, the EIR "provides a project-level analysis of the [Integrated Projects] and is tiered from the 2020 LRDP EIR."*fn4 The EIR's preparation began with a Notice of Preparation and Initial Study of the EIR, which was circulated on November 14, 2005. A 30-day review period for the Initial Study was then held from November 15, 2005 to December 14, 2005, during which time the University received written and verbal comments from the public that were taken into consideration when the DEIR was prepared.

The DEIR analyzed potential significant environmental impacts of the Integrated Projects with respect to the following issue areas: aesthetics; cultural resources; geology, seismicity and soils; hydrology and water quality; land use; noise; public services; emergency access; transportation and traffic; utilities; and wastewater, storm water and steam/chilled water construction.*fn5 The DEIR also proposed various mitigation measures and project alternatives to address the identified impacts. The DEIR ultimately concluded that, by implementing the proposed mitigation measures, most of the projects' significant impacts would be reduced to less than significant levels.

The University circulated the DEIR for public review from May 8, 2006 until July 7, 2006, longer than the 45 days required by section 15105 of the Guidelines. On June 6, 2006, the University held a public hearing, at which 23 people provided comments on the DEIR. In addition, the University received written comments from eight public agencies and 55 organizations and individuals, as well as two petitions with a combined total of over 1,000 signatures. Concerns raised by these comments and petitions related primarily to the following topics: seismic and structural safety; impacts on cultural resources; and impacts of expanded use of a renovated Stadium on, among other things, emergency planning and services, noise and lighting.

The subsequently prepared EIR includes all public comments received by the University during the DEIR's review period, a transcript of the June 2006 hearing, written responses to the public comments, and revisions based on those comments. Like the DEIR, the EIR concludes that, by implementing the proposed mitigation measures, most of the Integrated Projects' significant environmental impacts would be reduced to less than significant levels. The EIR further concludes, however, that in the following areas significant impacts could not feasibly be mitigated: impacts to the aesthetics of Gayley Road and Panoramic Hill; impacts to the historical significance of the Stadium and Maxwell Family Field; potentially significant impacts to historical resources at the site of the Law and Business Connection Building and Piedmont Avenue; potential loss, injury or death resulting from the rupture of a known earthquake fault or strong seismic ground shaking; impacts to noise levels in the project vicinity; significant intersection delays in certain areas; and, if new or altered wastewater collection facilities were required to accommodate the projects, potential periodic construction-related impacts to traffic, noise, storm water, cultural resources and air.

The EIR was presented to the Regents' Committee on Grounds and Buildings (Committee) for consideration on November 14, 2006. On this date, the Regents, sitting as a whole, heard public comments on all of the Integrated Projects, including the Athlete Center project. The Committee thereafter adopted a recommendation that the Regents approve the $111,948 budget for the Athlete Center, but deferred consideration of the EIR and final approval of the Athlete Center for several weeks. On November 16, 2006, the Regents adopted the Committee's recommendation.

Finally, on December 5, 2006, following another public hearing, the Committee certified the EIR and gave final approval to the Athlete Center project. In doing so, the Committee adopted Findings and a Statement of Overriding Considerations. According to this statement, the Regents, in approving the Integrated Projects, balanced the projects' economic, social, technological and other benefits against their unavoidable environmental risks, and determined that those benefits outweighed the significant adverse environmental effects not mitigated to less-than-significant levels by the measures set forth in the EIR.

III. Trial Court Proceedings

In December 2006, various appellants filed separate lawsuits, which were later consolidated, challenging the Regents' certification of the EIR and approval of the Athlete Center project. The lawsuits raised claims under both CEQA and the Alquist-Priolo Act.*fn6

On February 9, 2007, the trial court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the University from beginning construction on the Athlete Center project to the extent it would change or alter the environment, while permitting further seismic and geophysical testing at the construction site.

In September and October 2007, the trial court conducted a trial on the merits. Following trial, on December 10, 2007, the trial court ordered the parties to submit expert declarations relating to the claims arising under the Alquist-Priolo Act after concluding such evidence was necessary to help the court interpret technical design drawings in the administrative record relevant to those claims. The parties complied with this order and, on March 20, 2008, the trial court heard argument from the parties regarding these expert declarations, including the propriety of considering them. Following this hearing, the trial court took the matter under submission.

On June 18, 2008, the trial court issued a 129-page decision granting the petitions in part and denying them in part. Specifically, the trial court denied appellants' CEQA claims with one exception: it rejected the Regents' finding and conclusion in the EIR that doubling the number of capacity events at the Stadium as part of Phases II and III of the Stadium project would cause unavoidable significant environmental effects. The trial court denied appellants' Alquist-Priolo Act claims with the following exception: it found that three aspects of the Athlete Center project constituted alterations to the Stadium within the meaning of the Act, requiring the Regents to determine the value of those alterations to ensure they did not exceed 50 percent of the Stadium's value: (1) installation of a grade beam along the base of the Stadium's west wall; (2) alterations to two Stadium staircases; and (3) penetration of the Stadium's ground floor slab to facilitate installation of the Athlete Center's telecommunications system.

On July 22, 2008, the trial court issued a peremptory writ of mandate ordering the Regents to: (1) suspend approval of Phases II and III of the Stadium project until either the proposal to increase the number of capacity events at the Stadium was withdrawn or substantial evidence was presented to support the Regents' finding and conclusion that doubling the number of capacity events would cause unavoidable significant environmental impacts; and (2) suspend approval of the Athlete Center until it could demonstrate that the cost of constructing the identified alterations to the Stadium would be less than 50 percent of the Stadium's value.

The trial court thereafter deemed the Regents' response to its June 18, 2008 order, which was submitted on June 27, 2008, to be a return to the writ of mandate. In this response, the Regents advised the trial court that it had removed from the Stadium project the proposal for the additional capacity events and from the Athlete Center project all the proposed alterations to the Stadium identified by the court, thereby putting the Regents in compliance with the order. Based on this response, the trial court dissolved the preliminary injunction, permitting construction of the Athlete Center to begin.

An amended judgment was entered for the Regents on August 26, 2008. This appeal followed.*fn7

DISCUSSION

On appeal, appellants present two principal issues for our consideration.

First, appellants contend the Regents violated the Alquist-Priolo Act by approving the Athlete Center project, which is Phase I of the Stadium project. With certain exceptions, the Alquist-Priolo Act prohibits the construction of structures for human occupancy across the trace of an active fault or within 50 feet of an active fault, and prohibits the construction of an addition or alteration to a structure already existing on the trace of an active fault if the value of the addition or alteration exceeds 50 percent of the value of the structure. (§§ 2621.5, 2621.7 subd. (c); Guidelines, § 3603, subd. (a).)

Second, appellants contend the Regents violated CEQA by certifying a defective EIR for the Integrated Projects and by approving the Athlete Center project. CEQA, among other things, requires a public agency to prepare and certify an environmental impact report for qualifying projects to identify the proposed project's significant environmental effects, to identify possible alternatives to the project, and to indicate ways in which the project's significant environmental effects can be mitigated or avoided. (§ 21002.1, subd. (a).)

We address each of appellants' contentions in turn below.

I. The Alquist-Priolo Act

A. Standard of Review

Appellants' challenge in these proceedings is one of mandamus, which is available to correct a public agency's abuse of discretion and to compel the agency's performance of a clear, present, and ministerial duty where a petitioner has a beneficial right to performance of that duty. (Santa Clara County Counsel Attys. Assn. v. Woodside (1994) 7 Cal.4th 525, 540; Carrancho v. California Air Resources Board (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 1255, 1265 (Carrancho). See also Code Civ. Proc., §1085.) " 'In determining whether an abuse of discretion has occurred, a court may not substitute its judgment for that of the administrative board [citation], and if reasonable minds may disagree as to the wisdom of the board's action, its determination must be upheld [citation].' (Manjares v. Newton (1966) 64 Cal.2d 365, 370-371.)" (Better Alternatives for Neighborhoods v. Heyman (1989) 212 Cal.App.3d 663, 672 (Better Alternatives).) " 'In general . . . the inquiry is limited to whether the decision was arbitrary, capricious, or entirely lacking in evidentiary support . . . .' [Citation.]" (American Board of Cosmetic Surgery v. Medical Board of California (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 534, 547-548.)

Where a petitioner's challenge in a mandamus action rests on the sufficiency of the evidence, "the court does not have the power to judge the intrinsic value of the evidence or to weigh it." (Better Alternatives, supra, 212 Cal.App.3d at pp. 671-672. See also O.W.L. Foundation v. City of Rohnert Park (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 568, 585-586 (O.W.L. Foundation).) Further, " '[b]ecause "trial and appellate courts perform the same function in mandamus actions, an appellate court reviews the agency's action de novo." ' " (O.W.L. Foundation, supra, 168 Cal.App.4th at p. 586.)

B. Compliance with the Alquist-Priolo Act

The Alquist-Priolo Act was enacted to prohibit the location of structures for human occupancy across the trace of active faults. (§ 2621.5; Guidelines, § 3603, subd. (a).) In furtherance of this mandate, the Act's implementing regulations provide that "No structure for human occupancy . . . shall be permitted to be placed across the trace of an active fault. Furthermore, as the area within fifty (50) feet of such active faults shall be presumed to be underlain by active branches of that fault unless proven otherwise by an appropriate geologic investigation and report . . . no such structures shall be permitted in this area."*fn8 (Guidelines, § 3603, subd. (a).)

The Alquist-Priolo Act applies broadly to "any project . . . which is located within a delineated earthquake fault zone, upon issuance of the official earthquake fault zone maps to affected local jurisdictions, except as provided in section 2621.7."*fn9 (§ 2621.5, subd. (b).) "[P]roject" is defined to include "[s]tructures for human occupancy." (§ 2621.6, subd. (a)(2).)

The Alquist-Priolo Act recognizes a limited number of exceptions to the general prohibition on locating structures for human occupancy across the trace of active faults. Relevant here, the prohibition does not apply to "[a]ny development or structure in existence prior to May 4, 1975, except for an alteration or addition to a structure that exceeds the value limit specified in subdivision (c)." (§ 2621.7, subd. (b).) Section 2621.7, subdivision (c), in turn, provides that the value of any such alteration or addition must not exceed 50 percent of the total value of the structure. (§ 2621.7, subd. (c).)

Undisputedly, both the Stadium and the Athlete Center are located within an earthquake fault zone, and thus are subject to the Alquist-Priolo Act. Accordingly, as the trial court noted, the Alquist-Priolo Act restricts the University's ability to proceed with the Stadium project in three ways: (1) the University may not build a structure for human occupancy across the trace of an active fault; (2) the University may not build within 50 feet of an active fault unless it first demonstrates the proposed structure will not be built over an active branch of a fault; and (3) the University may not construct an addition or alteration to a structure built on the trace of an active fault before May 4, 1975, if the cost of the addition or alteration exceeds 50 percent of the structure's value.

According to appellants, the Regents have failed to comply with these restrictions. Specifically, they contend the Regents' approval of Phase I of the Stadium project, construction of the Athlete Center, violated Alquist-Priolo in the following ways: (1) the Regents failed to determine whether the Athlete Center is an "addition" or "alteration" to the Stadium for purposes of the Act (§ 2621.7, subd. (c)); (2) they failed to determine whether the cost of constructing the Athlete Center exceeds 50 percent of the value of the Stadium (ibid.); and (3) they deliberately separated the Stadium project into three phases to avoid the Act's prohibition on making an addition or alteration to a structure located across the trace of an active fault if the cost of the addition or alteration exceeds 50 percent of the structure's value (ibid.). We address each of these contentions in turn.*fn10

1. Alterations and Additions Under the Alquist-Priolo Act

The proposed Athlete Center is a 158,000 square-foot building costing approximately $112,000,000. In designing the building, the University sought to "respect the architecture and character of the existing Stadium by retaining the historic west façade and bowl shape." Thus, to minimize its physical mass, the Athlete Center is designed to be constructed below grade to the west and adjacent to the Stadium.

The design calls for the Athlete Center's roof to function as a large exterior plaza at the existing parking lot level that will connect the Stadium's north entrance to current and future stairway entrances to the west and south seating areas of the Stadium. This plaza will be used for daily social gatherings, as well as for crowd circulation during Stadium events and for emergency vehicle access. Below the plaza, set into the hillside, will be a two-story building housing weight and training rooms for athletes, sports medicine facilities, locker rooms, coaches and staff offices and meeting rooms for 14 varsity sports. In addition, administrative offices and meeting facilities currently housed in the Stadium will move to the new building immediately upon its completion to allow the University to begin retrofitting and renovating the Stadium as part of Phases II and III of the Stadium project.

Below, the trial court observed there was no evidence the University considered during the design process whether the proposed Athlete Center would be an alteration or addition to the Stadium. The Regents explained that, because the Athlete Center was designed to be a structure wholly independent from the Stadium, the University properly assumed the Athlete Center would comply with the Alquist-Priolo Act so long as it was not built over the trace of an active fault or within 50 feet of an active fault absent proof that it was not built over an active branch of a fault. (§ 2621.7, subd. (c).) To this end, the University hired seismic experts to conduct a detailed study of the proposed Athlete Center site to confirm it was not astride any active faults.*fn11

At oral argument, appellants, for the first time, asked that we remand this matter to the trial court to order the Regents to perform their "legal duty" to (1) make a threshold determination as to whether the Athlete Center is an alteration or addition to the Stadium and, then, (2) make determinations as to both the value of the Stadium and of the costs of any proposed additions or alterations to the Stadium to confirm compliance with the Alquist-Priolo Act's 50 percent value restriction.

Yet when asked by this court to do so, appellants could point to nothing in the Alquist-Priolo Act imposing a legal duty on an agency to make these determinations, particularly where, as here, the University designed the Athlete Center to be an independent structure and confirmed it would not be situated across the trace of an active fault. As the Regents point out, the Alquist-Priolo Act restricts or prohibits the construction or improvement of certain structures in earthquake fault zones; it does not dictate particular procedures the agency must follow when approving a project. In particular, the Act does not require the agency to determine, in the first instance, whether a proposed structure qualifies as an addition or alteration, or to calculate its cost to ensure compliance with the Act's value restriction. (See § 2621.7.) We therefore reject appellants' belated request for remand, given that it is untimely and without legal support.

However, putting aside the Regents' alleged failure, as a procedural matter, to make certain determinations prior to project approval, we nonetheless must determine whether, as a substantive matter, the Regents violated the Alquist-Priolo Act by failing to adhere to the Act's restriction on the value of additions and alterations to a pre-existing structure for human occupancy situated across the trace of an active fault. This inquiry, as the trial court noted, hinges on the statutory definition of three words: "addition," "alteration," and "structure." (§ 2621.7, subd. (b).) Because neither the Alquist-Priolo Act nor its implementing regulations define these terms, we must turn to the rules of statutory interpretation for guidance.

a. Defining "Alteration" and "Addition"

The primary goal in interpreting any statute is to "determine the Legislature's intent so as to effectuate the law's purpose." (Ailanto Properties, Inc. v. City of Half Moon Bay (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 572, 582.) To this end, we "give meaning to every word and phrase in the statute to accomplish a result consistent with the legislative purpose, i.e., the object to be achieved and the evil to be prevented by the legislation." (Harris v. Capital Growth Investors XIV (1991) 52 Cal.3d 1142, 1159.) If the statutory language is clear, we follow its plain meaning so long as an absurd or unintended consequence does not result. (Arnett v. Dal Cielo (1996) 14 Cal.4th 4, 19.) However, "when a word used in a statute has a well-established legal meaning, it will be given that meaning in construing the statute." (Ibid.)

Here, appellants claim the trial court's finding that the Athlete Center is not an "addition" or "alteration" within the meaning of the Alquist-Priolo Act is belied by the terms' ordinary dictionary definitions. "Addition" is commonly defined as "the action or process of adding something to something else," and "alteration" as "the action or process of altering or being altered." (Oxford American Dictionary, pp. 18, 46 (2d ed. 2005).) "Alter," in turn, is commonly defined as to "change or cause to change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way." (Id. at p. 46.)

Consistent with the ordinary meaning of "addition," appellants note that the Athlete Center project includes a new roof plaza that will "dramatically change the character and composition of the Stadium's west side and be directly connected to the existing Stadium." This new plaza "extends or increases the floor area of the Stadium from inside the western entrances, providing a new one and one-half acre terrace designed as part of the Stadium's operating area." According to appellants, a "reasonable person applying a common definition of addition would find that the Athlete Center, like a deck or terrace to one's house, is an addition to the existing Stadium." With respect to the term "alteration," appellants add that the Athlete Center is designed to change the day-to-day operations of the Stadium, given that administrative offices and meeting facilities currently housed in the Stadium are to move to the Athlete Center. Further, the new plaza of the Athlete Center will "drastically increase use of the west entrances to the Stadium." According to appellants, "[the] change in the Stadium's function is plainly an 'alteration' as that term is commonly defined."

In disputing that the proposed Athlete Center meets the statutory definition of "alteration" or "addition," the University directed the trial court to the California Building Code (CBC).*fn12 As already mentioned, the University explained the Athlete Center was designed as an independent structure for human occupancy pursuant to the relevant provisions of the CBC, and thus is not subject to the Alquist-Priolo Act's value restrictions.

Following the University's lead, the trial court relied on the CBC, as well as the Uniform Building Code (UBC), to define "alteration" and "addition" for purposes of the Alquist-Priolo Act. The trial court based its decision on the principle that, "when [a] word has both a specific legal meaning and a more general sense in informal legal usage or in lay speech . . . lawmakers are presumed to have used the word in its specifically legal sense." (Arnett v. Dal Cielo, supra, 14 Cal.4th at pp. 19-20.)

While declining at oral argument to label the trial court's reliance on the CBC and UBC "unreasonable," appellants reiterated the point made in their opening brief that "alteration" and "addition" should be assigned their plain and common sense dictionary definitions, and that it is "unnecessary" to consider other authority. Appellants then argue alternatively that, even under the CBC and UBC definitions, where, as here, there are certain "functional linkages" between the pre-existing structure and the new structure, the new structure may qualify as an alteration and addition to the pre-existing structure.

As an initial matter, we reject appellants' rather half-hearted challenge to the relevance of the building codes in interpreting the Alquist-Priolo Act. Appellants are undoubtedly correct that the CBC did not exist when Alquist-Priolo was enacted. However, the Regents are likewise correct that, in the absence of express statutory language, the terms "alteration," "addition" and "structure" should be defined with reference to the particular context in which they are used - to wit, building construction and improvement of structures for human occupancy in delineated earthquake fault zones. This is consistent with the general principle that, when interpreting any statute, a court must identify the Legislature's apparent intent in light of what is both reasonable and consistent with the statute's general purpose. (In re Corrine W. (2009) 45 Cal.4th 522, 529 [if " 'the text alone does not establish the Legislature's intent clearly, we must turn to other sources for insight, including the provision's statutory context, its legislative history, and "the human problems the Legislature sought to address" in adopting the [statutory] scheme' "]; Commission on Peace Officer Standards & Training v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal.4th 278, 290 ["the Legislature intends reasonable results consistent with its apparent purpose"].)

Relevant here, the Alquist-Priolo Act is intended "to provide the citizens of the state with increased safety and to minimize the loss of life during and immediately following earthquakes by facilitating seismic retrofitting to strengthen buildings, including historical buildings, against ground shaking." (§ 2621.5, subd. (a).) The building codes, in turn, govern the seismic strengthening of buildings. For example, the CBC provides that "[e]very structure and portion thereof, including nonstructural components that are permanently attached to structures and their supports and attachments, shall be designed and constructed to resist the effects of earthquake motions." (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 24, § 1613.1. See also UBC, § 2312, subd. (a) (1976 ed.); UBC § 2314, subd. (a) (1970 ed.).) Under these circumstances, we believe the trial court had a reasonable basis for relying on the CBC and UBC to interpret technical terms relating to both building construction and seismic safety that are set forth, without definition, in the statutory language. (Arnett v. Dal Cielo, supra, 14 Cal.4th at pp. 19-20.)

Turning then to the building codes, the 1970 version of the UBC, in effect when Alquist-Priolo was enacted, defines "structure" as "that which is built or constructed, an edifice or building of any kind, or any piece of work artificially built up or composed of parts joined together in some definite manner." The 1970 UBC does not define "addition" or "alteration", but the 1976 version does. The 1976 UBC retains the definition of "structure" set forth in the 1970 UBC, defines "addition" as "an extension or increase in floor area or height of a building or structure," and defines "alteration" as "any change, addition or modification in construction or occupancy."

Nearly identical to the 1976 UBC, the current CBC defines "structure" as "[t]hat which is built or constructed," "alteration" as "any change, addition or modification in construction or occupancy or structural repair or change in primary function to an existing structure" (other than repair or addition), and "addition" as an "extension or increase in floor area or height of a building or structure." (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 24, § 202.) "Floor area," in turn, is defined as "the area within the inside perimeter of the exterior walls of the building . . ." or, if surrounding exterior walls do not exist, "the usable area under the horizontal projection of the roof or floor above." (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 24, § 1002.1.)

Thus, with guidance from these building code definitions, we now turn to the issue at hand - to wit, whether, based on the facts of this case, the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the Athlete Center is not an alteration or addition to the Stadium within the meaning of the Alquist-Priolo Act.*fn13 (Better Alternatives, supra, 212 Cal.App.3d at pp. 671-672; American Board of Cosmetic Surgery v. Medical Board of California, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th at pp. 547-548.)

b. The Evidence Relating to "Alteration" ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.