CA Supreme Court Decision Favorable to Citizens and Environmental Law

On March 20, 2017, the Banning Ranch Conservancy (BRC) announced a win for citizens throughout California who are fighting to get their elected officials to abide by environmental law. The Supreme Court of California published its ruling in the BRC case, making it clear that the environmental review process is more than just a checkbox to mark to approve a project.

Rural Communities United (RCU) attorney Tom Infusino shared the outcome of this case and its importance, with the El Dorado County Planning Commissioners and Board of Supervisors, in a letter dated April 26, 2017. As the decision makers for development in El Dorado County, Commissioners and Supervisors need to understand the impact of this recent court ruling. The court ruling dictates that decision makers have a duty to determine if meaningful environmental review of projects has actually occurred, prior to making any land use decision. It is not ‘ok’ to disregard public comments that question development impacts: full disclosure and fully reasoned analysis must be in evidence, or their decisions will be overturned.

“The preparation and circulation of an EIR [Environmental Impact Report] is more than a set of technical hurdles for agencies and developers to overcome. The EIR’s function is to ensure that government officials who decide to build or approve a project do so with a full understanding of the environmental consequences and, equally important, that the public is assured those consequences have been taken into account.”

Click here to read a copy of the April 26, 2017 letter that attorney Tom Infusino sent to the Commissioners and Supervisors.
Click here to read the California Supreme Court ruling in the Banning Ranch Conservancy lawsuit.

RCU needs your help to restore the 2004 voter approved General Plan and the 37,000 parcels that were rezoned without notification to the property owners or surrounding neighbors.  When the Board of Supervisors approved their overhaul of the voter-approved 2004 General Plan, RCU immediately sprang into action and filed a lawsuit to reverse the Board’s decision.  At this time, RCU is almost half way to raising the funds needed to complete the court case.

If the quality of life that we all enjoy in El Dorado County is important to you, then please join us in protecting that lifestyle with a tax-deductible donation to RCU.

Help us hold our elected officials accountable. Donate to the LEGAL FUND.

Donations are tax deductible through Planning & Conservation League (PCL) Foundation’s fiscal sponsorship under their 501(c)(3).

To Donate by Check (preferred to save online fees):

Make check payable to: PCLF Legal Fund
Memo line:  RCU-EDC

Mail to:
P.O. Box 1332
Placerville, CA 95667

To Donate Online:

Link to online donation page:

About Planning & Conservation League (PCL) and Planning & Conservation League Foundation (PCLF):

PCL ( is a nonprofit organization that has been around since 1965, and helped draft the critically important California Environmental Quality Act.  PCLF is their sister organization. Formed in 1972 they work at the Community level to assist groups like ours to better participate in the environmental review process. (


Déjà vu! Amador County sued on its General Plan Update

Much like Rural Communities United’s lawsuit against El Dorado County, Foothill Conservancy has filed a lawsuit against Amador County’s General Plan update.  More information and the Writ is available on the Foothill Conservancy website:


For immediate release

Thursday, November 3

For more information, contact Cecily Smith: 209-223-3508,

On Thursday, November 3, Foothill Conservancy filed a lawsuit in Amador County Superior Court challenging the County of Amador’s new general plan and related environmental impact report. The Conservancy’s petition for writ of mandate asks the court to set aside the general plan and EIR, and revise the EIR to correct identified errors and inadequacies. The attorney representing the Conservancy in this matter is Michael W. Graf, who won a Conservancy lawsuit that stopped the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s plan to flood the most-popular local sections of the Mokelumne River.

“We are truly disappointed that after a 10-year process, the county approved a general plan that fails to protect everything that makes Amador County a special place to live, work, retire and visit,” said Foothill Conservancy Executive Director Cecily Smith.

“The plan doesn’t protect our scenic beauty and community character. It will not stop rural sprawl. It greatly underestimates the amount of land that will be converted from agricultural uses. It will lead to gridlock on local roads, place lives and property at risk from wildland fire, create more air pollution, brighten our dark night skies, potentially destroy critical habitat for plants found nowhere else on earth, allow the conversion of working ranches and forests to developed uses, and continue to allow the proliferation of ugly ‘small box’ retail stores along our highways. We love our county, and we think local residents deserve better.”

The general plan will remain in force while the litigation is pending. The lawsuit is only the fourth suit filed by Foothill Conservancy since its founding in 1989.

“We’d always prefer to work in a cooperative, collaborative way to find solutions to local challenges,” said Smith. “That’s what we do on river and watershed issues, forest issues, salmon restoration, and more. But the county apparently wasn’t interested in doing that for the general plan. That left us with no alternative but litigation.

“We offered to meet and work with the county to address the serious concerns raised by our organization and its members, many other Amador County residents, local cities, CalFire, CalTrans, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, tribal interests, and others. But in the end, county chose to approve a plan that won’t set our county on a path to prosperity or protect our quality of life and natural environment.”

Foothill Conservancy was actively engaged in the Amador County General Plan Update process from its launch in 2006 until its final approval on October 4, 2016. In addition to providing public education on the plan process, the Conservancy served on the General Plan Advisory Committee, participated in related public hearings, submitted detailed written comments, engaged local and statewide experts to make comments on the plan and EIR, and provided many examples from other counties demonstrating how the plan could be improved to reduce its serious environmental impacts.

The county general plan even fails to live up to its own introductory vision statement, which is similar to the Foothill Conservancy’s own vision statement and land use principles. “The county supervisors chose to accept significant impacts on people and the environment rather than adopt a better plan,” Smith said. “We hope our litigation will lead to a more-positive result for Amador County’s landowners, businesses, wildlife and visitors.”

For more information, contact Cecily Smith at 209-223-3508 or

August 24, 2016 – Hear about RCU lawsuit at “Crash Course”

The Coalition for Change is hosting an event this Wednesday, Aug 24th, in Cameron Park, and Rural Communities United (RCU) was invited to share information on why that action-of-last-resort … a lawsuit … was necessary against the Board of Supervisors changes to our County’s General Plan.  Please join us, bring a friend, and share/forward the flyer below!