By Janet and Joe Krovoza
On Tuesday, August 27, 2023, Yolo County Superior Court judge Timothy Fall ruled that the City of Davis is not required to complete any additional environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before proceeding with relocation of the Sky Track from its original location. The ruling isn’t final yet. A formal order will be issued in a few weeks.
The case turned on Judge Fall accepting the city’s use of the “small accessory structures” categorical exemption of CEQA. The CEQA guidelines provide examples for this category of exemption as “garages, carports, patios, swimming pools, and fences.” The guidelines describe accessory uses as: “(a) On-premise signs; (b) small parking lots; and (c) Placement of seasonal or temporary use items such as lifeguard towers, mobile food units, portable restrooms, or similar items in generally the same locations from time to time in publicly owned parks, stadiums, or other facilities designed for public use.”
We disagree that such an exemption is appropriate. Unlike the CEQA guidelines’ examples, the Sky Track is permanent, not “temporary or seasonal,” and creates an inescapable abrasive industrial sound that ports sound directly into homes whenever it is in use, interrupting sleep, rest, and concentration, and impacting physical and mental health. Accessory structures aren’t known to have moving mechanical parts proven to violate a noise ordinance standard.