Category Archives: Land Use and Entitlements

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Voters Overwhelmingly Approve ‘Build Better LA’ Initiative Resulting in New Affordable Housing and Local Hiring Requirements For Developers

Voters this week approved Measure JJJ, otherwise known as the Build Better L.A. initiative (the “Initiative”), which establishes new labor and affordable-housing requirements for developers in Los Angeles seeking discretionary approvals for residential projects.  The Initiative was promoted by the L.A. County Federation of Labor, which cited the City’s inability to meet the increasing need … Continue Reading

Redevelopment Strikes Back

After several failed attempts in previous years, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed AB 2 (Alejo) on September 22, 2015. (Stats. 2015, ch. 319.) AB 2 authorizes a new structure for tax increment financing—the planning and financing tool that redevelopment agencies (RDAs) had used to support revitalization projects until 2012, when California dissolved the … Continue Reading

State Lands Commission Land Exchanges Not Exempt from CEQA Review Absent a Title or Boundary Dispute; Actual Notice Doesn’t Satisfy CEQA Notice Requirements Under Public Resources Code Section 21177(e)

In Defend Our Waterfront v. California State Lands Commission (Sept. 17, 2015) __Cal.App.4th __, Case Nos. A141696 & A141697, the California Court of Appeal for the First District upheld the trial court’s grant of a petition for writ of mandate challenging a land exchange with the State Lands Commission in connection with the 8 Washington … Continue Reading

High Standard for Invoking Equitable Estoppel Against the Government Reaffirmed

Schafer v. City of Los Angeles; Triangle Center, LLC, Real Party in Interest (6/17/2015, 3d Civil No. E059133) The California Court of Appeal, Second District, recently re-affirmed the heightened standard for invoking equitable estoppel against the government.  In Schafer v. City of Los Angeles, the court rejected a claim that the City was estopped from … Continue Reading

Trails-to-Rails-to-?: The Brandt Case and its Potential Impact on the Nation’s Trails

A recent Supreme Court case may have a far-reaching impact on many of the United States’ “rails-to-trails” biking and jogging paths.  In March, the Supreme Court held in an 8-1 decision that rights of way granted to railroad companies during the nineteenth century were mere easements without reversionary interests to the United States government, triggering … Continue Reading

Bright Line Rule: Collateral Estoppel Precludes Attacks on Quasi-Judicial Permit Decisions (But Stay Tuned: Rehearing Granted on the Court’s Own Motion)

Simply stated: “[a] collateral attack is not a substitute for an appeal” reasoned the Second Appellate District Court in Bowman v. California Coastal Commission (2nd Dist., Div. 6, 03/18/2014, B243015) ___Cal.App.2nd___, 2014).[1]  This is a case where the Coastal Commission and environmental groups found common ground challenging a coastal development permit issued by the County … Continue Reading

No Private Attorney General Fees for Homeowner

In Donald A. Norberg v. California Coastal Commission (4th Dist., Div. 3, 10/25/13, G047522) ___Cal.App.4th___, 2013, the court of appeal reversed the trial court’s award of private attorney general fees because the homeowner’s successful challenge of certain conditions imposed by the California Coastal Commission with respect to proposed improvements to his home did not confer … Continue Reading

Innovative Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan Seeks to Revitalize Neglected Los Angeles Neighborhood

After years of work and input from local community groups, environmentalists, affordable housing advocates, transportation advocates, and the business community, the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (the “CASP”) cleared its final hurdle on June 28, 2013 when the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve it. The CASP aims to revitalize a more than 650 … Continue Reading

Assembly Bill 116, Extending Life of Subdivision Maps, Signed by the Governor

On July 11, 2013, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 116 (Bocanegra) automatically extending by 24 months the expiration date of any tentative map, vesting tentative map, or a parcel map which was approved on or after January 1, 2000, and that has not yet expired. It further specifies a process for the extension of tentative … Continue Reading

Zoning Director Approval Triggers Section 65009 Statute of Limitations

Stockton Citizens for Sensible Planning v. City of Stockton, Super. Ct. No. CV024375 (Nov. 13, 2012) By James Rusk A letter of approval finding a project consistent with a City’s Master Development Plan triggers the running of the 90-day statute of limitations under Government Code subsection 65009(c)(1)(E), the Third District Court of Appeal has held. … Continue Reading

City May Adopt Housing Element Revisions Inconsistent With General Plan If City Also Adopts Timeline To Correct Inconsistencies

Friends of Aviara v. City of Carlsbad (November 1, 2012, Case No. D060167) Recently, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Friends of Aviara v. City of Carlsbad affirmed the trial court’s judgment directing the City of Carlsbad to adopt a timeline for proposed changes to its general plan that would correct inconsistencies created by … Continue Reading

Further Confirmation Notice of Exemption Filed Before Project Approval is Void

Coalition for Clean Air v. City of Visalia (Oct. 4, 2012, No. F062983M) By James Pugh The partially published opinion in Coalition for Clean Air v. City of Visalia brightened the line regarding when a California Environmental Quality Act Notice of Exemption (NOE) is valid. In a nutshell, the Fifth District Court of Appeal concluded … Continue Reading

The Amorphous “Unusual Circumstances” Exception to CEQA’s Categorical Exemption Strikes Again

Voices for Rural Living v. El Dorado Irrigation District, Super. Ct. No. PC20080398, (Oct. 4, 2012)  By James Pugh The recent Voices for Rural Living v. El Dorado Irrigation District case from the California Court of Appeal’s Third District applied the “unusual circumstances” exception to overturn a categorical exemption used to approve a water supply … Continue Reading

Appeals Court Reaffirms That Non-Prejudicial Planning And Zoning Code And CEQA Errors Cannot Serve As Basis For Overturning City Approval

Rialto Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Rialto ___ Cal.App. ___ (July 31, 2012, No. E052253) By Phillip Tate On July 31, 2012, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District held that the trial court erred in invalidating the City of Rialto’s (the “City”) approval of a 230,000 square foot commercial retail … Continue Reading

Federal Government’s Eminent Domain Power Trumps California’s Sovereign Public Trust Title

United States of America v. 32.42 Acres of Land, et al., Case No. 10-56568 (9th Cir. 2012). By Michael Wilmar and Nady Nikonova The United States condemned tide and submerged lands leased by the Port of San Diego to the U.S. Navy. The Port held the lands under a trust grant from the State of … Continue Reading

River Segment Must Be Navigable In Fact For Commercial Purposes At Statehood For State To Obtain Title To Riverbed Under The Equal Footing Doctrine

PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana, 565 U.S. ____ (2012) (decided Feb. 22, 2012) By Keith Garner, Michael Wilmar, and Alexander Merritt Two weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in PPL Montana v. Montana. The Court held that the Supreme Court of Montana had incorrectly determined that certain segments of the Upper … Continue Reading

Decision to Deny a Zoning Change Subject to 90-Day Statute of Limitation

General Development Co., L.P. v. City of Santa Maria, 2d Civil No. B228631 (Super. Ct. No. 1320579) (Cal. Ct. App. 2nd Dist., January 25, 2012) By Katharine J. Mueller An action challenging a legislative body’s decision to deny a zone change is subject to a 90-day limitation period set forth in section 65009(c) of the … Continue Reading

CEQA Amendments from the 2011 Legislative Session

By Judy V. Davdoff & Alex Merritt In the 2011 session, the California Legislature and the Governor passed several bills to amend CEQA. As summarized below, these bills streamline the review process for green projects, environmental leadership projects, and a proposed football stadium; relax water supply assessment requirements for photovoltaic and wind energy projects; and … Continue Reading

Court Upholds Medical Campus Expansion, Provides Guidance on Using Future Traffic Projections to Analyze Traffic Impacts

Pfeiffer v. City of Sunnyvale, No. H036310 (Cal. Ct. App. 6th Dist; October 28, 2011) By Maria Pracher and Alex Merritt The 6th District Court of Appeal recently denied a challenge to the proposed expansion of a medical complex in the City of Sunnyvale. The decision reaffirms the standard for evaluating general plan consistency and, … Continue Reading

Housing Accountability Act Applies to More Than Just Affordable Housing Developments

Honchariw v. County of Stanislaus, No. F060788 (5th Dist. November 14, 2011) By Alex Merritt and Michael Wilmar Last week the 5th District Court of Appeal clarified that certain requirements of the Housing Accountability Act, Government Code Section 65589.5, are triggered by all housing developments, not just those that include affordable housing. At issue in … Continue Reading

Court Clarifies Mitigation Requirements for Impacts to Historical Resources, Reaffirms Use of Existing Conditions as Analytical Baseline

By James Rusk The Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District of California held this month that the Environmental Impact Report for the Tesoro Viejo mixed use development project in southeastern Madera County failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. The court’s opinion articulates a new standard for analysis and mitigation of … Continue Reading

A Case Where CEQA Worked

Clover Valley Foundation et al. v. City of Rocklin et al., C061808, 2011 WL 2671250 (Cal. Ct. App. July 8, 2011) By James Pugh, Alexis Pelosi and Kira Teshima In this case, the Third District Court of Appeal rejected claims raised by Clover Valley Foundation, the Sierra Club and the Town of Loomis that the … Continue Reading
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