On appeal, the County argues that the trial court abused its discretion in awardingan unreasonable amount of attorney fees to Bernardi. According to the County, theattorney fees award is excessive because it is not commensurate with Bernardi’s partialsuccess in obtaining public records. For the reasons stated below, we conclude that thetrial court did not abuse its discretion and therefore we will affirm the order awardingattorney fees.
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUNDA.
The September Ranch Project
Since Bernardi’s CPRA petition sought public records relating to the September Ranch project, we will begin with a brief overview of that project and related litigation.In 1998, the County Board of Supervisors certified the environmental impactreport (EIR) for a subdivision proposal known as the September Ranch project. Thecertification of the EIR was challenged by the Save Our Peninsula Committee and theSierra Club in petitions for administrative mandamus filed in the superior court. Thecourt entered judgment in favor of the petitioners after determining that the EIR was notlegally adequate under CEQA,
and ordered the County Board of Supervisors to vacatecertification of the EIR and to prepare and circulate an EIR that was legally adequatewith respect to specified water and traffic issues.The judgment was appealed by the September Ranch Partners, who were the project applicants. This court concluded in
Save Our Peninsula Committee v. MontereyCounty Bd. of Supervisors
(2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 99 that the EIR was adequate withrespect to traffic issues but inadequate in its treatment of several critical water issues.
For that reason, we reversed the judgment in part and affirmed it in part, and directed the
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Public Resources Codesection 21000 et seq.
Our summary of the pertinent factual and procedural background includes someinformation that we have taken from our prior decision in
Save Our Peninsula Committeev. Monterey County Bd. of Supervisors, supra,
87 Cal.App.4th 99.2