SAN JOSE -- A panel of the state's 6th District Court of Appeal invalidated on Tuesday the city of Santa Cruz's environmental analysis of extending water to an undeveloped section of UC Santa Cruz eyed for university growth.
The three-judge panel overturned a Santa Cruz County Superior Court ruling that dismissed a challenge to the environmental impact report as filed by a local group called Habitat and Watershed Caretakers. The panel ordered a trial judge to grant the group's petition and have the city withdraw its certification of the report and overall approval of the project.
"We conclude that the City's EIR misdescribed the project's objectives, that this misdescription skewed its consideration of alternatives, and that the EIR was inadequate because it failed to consider any potentially feasible alternatives that would avoid or limit the significant environmental impact of the project on the city's water supply," the ruling said.
Applications by the university and city to expand the city's service area and provide up to 100 million gallons more water each year were set to be heard Dec. 5 by the Local Agency Formation Commission. It was not immediately clear whether the ruling would cause the hearing to be postponed.
The city and university agreed to apply to the commission as part of a 2008 settlement agreement that requires UCSC to house about two-thirds of new students on campus. The agreement ended lawsuits involving the university, city, county and citizen groups over UCSC's growth plans.
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