Chapter 2.104


2.104.010    Purpose and findings.

2.104.020    Definitions.

2.104.030    Indemnification agreement.

2.104.040    Reimbursement of costs by applicant.

2.104.050    Indemnification agreement--Payment upon demand.

2.104.010 Purpose and findings.

A.    The board of supervisors of the county of Amador finds that land use projects for which county approvals are necessary and for which project proponents make application to the county may require environmental review by the county pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (Public Resources Code Section 21000 et seq.; “CEQA”) in some CEQA Document.  Substantial county time and effort and, consequently, taxpayers’ money are expended in complying with CEQA’s requirements and other legal requirements necessary before granting such approvals.  Applicants get the economic benefit of such approvals.  The county in adopting this chapter shifts the costs of the county’s processing such applications from the taxpayers to the applicants for such land use projects.

B.    CEQA is a very complex statutory scheme with state-adopted guidelines and judicial interpretations complicating the county’s duties to properly determine which CEQA document (if any) is appropriate to the specific land use project being applied for and to follow the procedures set forth in California statutes, guidelines, and decisional law to lawfully apply CEQA and to comply with the laws governing approval of such land use projects.

C.    Judicial challenges to the county’s compliance with the CEQA process and other legal requirements in approving land use projects are often made by project opponents who seek to have attorney’s fees awarded to them if the county settles or loses the case.  Since the project applicant is the one receiving the economic benefits from the county’s CEQA review and approval of the project, and not the county or the taxpayers, the applicant for the land use project approval should bear any costs including attorney’s fees awarded to such an opponent by the court or paid by the county in a settlement.  (Ord. 1484 §1(part), 1999).

2.104.020 Definitions.

In this chapter the following words or phrases shall have the following meanings:

“Application” means an initial written request required by the county which commences the county’s processing of the land use project.

“CEQA document” means an environmental impact report, subsequent environmental impact report, supplemental environmental impact report, mitigated negative declaration, negative declaration, categorical exemption, or determination that no CEQA document is required.

“Land use project” means any subdivision, lot split, zoning change, general plan amendment, conditional use permit, variance, building, grading, or other permit which is not ministerial, or other activity for which a discretionary county approval or permit is required.  (Ord. 1484 §1(part), 1999).

2.104.030 Indemnification agreement.

At the time an applicant for a land use project makes his or her initial application therefor, and as a condition of the county’s accepting and processing the application, he or she shall file with the county a fully executed agreement agreeing to pay the costs incurred by the county in processing the application, including complying with CEQA, and to indemnify and hold harmless the county and its officers and employees from any litigation costs, including attorney’s fees, awarded to an opponent by any court based on or resulting from the county’s failure to comply with CEQA or otherwise approving the applicant’s land use project.  The litigation costs described herein include those paid to an opponent through a settlement agreed to by the county whether or not the county’s compliance with CEQA or other law is disputed therein.  (Ord. 1484 §1(part), 1999).

2.104.040 Reimbursement of costs by applicant.

From time to time the county may require that the applicant post money to defray the county’s costs already incurred or obligated in processing the application, including complying with CEQA, and the applicant shall within ten days of being given notice of said requirement pay the amount requested.  The county shall use said amount only for those costs incurred by the county.  (Ord. 1484 §1(part), 1999).

2.104.050 Indemnification agreement--Payment upon demand.

The applicant shall pay to the county upon demand any amount owed to the county pursuant to the indemnification agreement described in this chapter.  (Ord. 1484 §1(part), 1999).