USFWS Proposes (Again) To Issue 30-Year Eagle Act Permits

On May 6, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) published a proposed rule  that would amend various aspects of its permitting program under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (“Eagle Act”).  As widely anticipated, the proposed rule seeks to extend the maximum permit term from five to thirty years, but it also creates more stringent conservation standards and more flexible mitigation requirements for permits.  The comment period for the proposed rule ends on July 5, 2016.

Along with the proposed rule, the Service also released a status report, which showed increases in bald eagle populations but possible declines in golden eagle populations; and a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DPEIS), which analyzed potential impacts of the proposed rule under NEPA and which the Service intends to use as the basis for tiered, subsequent project-level review.

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Corps Proposes Renewal of Nationwide Permits

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) has proposed new and revised Nationwide Permits (“NWPs”) for certain activities that require authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.  Nationwide Permits provide streamlined authorization for dredge and fill activities that the Corps has determined will have minimal adverse effects on the aquatic environment, individually and cumulatively.  The Corps is soliciting comments until August 1, 2016.

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Jurisdictional Determinations Are Reviewable By The Courts

United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc. (5/31/16, No. 15-290)

In a widely anticipated decision in the wake of the Sackette v. EPA (132 S.Ct. 1367 (2012) decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that federal courts can review Army Corps of Engineers’ (“Corps”) determinations that a waterbody is subject to Clean Water Act regulation, resolving a split between the circuits in a victory for land owners.

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New LA Ordinances “Clean Up, Green Up” Industry in Residential “Toxic Hotspot” Neighborhoods

On June 4, 2016, two new Los Angeles ordinances will go into effect under the Clean Up, Green Up (CUGU) initiative.  The initiative aims to improve air quality and residential quality of life in areas with high concentrations of industrial uses.  The new laws will impose additional citywide code requirements, and create new development standards in three CUGU Supplemental Use Districts: Boyle Heights, Wilmington, and Pacoima/Sun Valley.

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UPDATE – City of Los Angeles Releases List of 13,500 Soft First Story Buildings Targeted for Earthquake Retrofitting

The City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (DBS) has released its list of wood frame soft-story buildings that may be required to undergo mandatory retrofitting.  The list can be obtained by request to DBS, and the LA Times has provided a searchable version of the list here.  The publication of the list follows on the heels of the Los Angeles City Council’s enactment of an ordinance requiring mandatory earthquake retrofitting for non-ductile concrete buildings and wood frame soft-first-story buildings in October of 2015.

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Challenge to Ordinance Prohibiting Mobile Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Goes Up in Smoke

Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of Upland (3/25/16, D069293)

In 2007, the City of Upland banned both fixed and mobile medical marijuana dispensaries from any zone within the City’s limits. Presumably this ban applied to mobile dispensaries delivering marijuana into the City from locations outside the City.  However, in 2013, the City adopted an additional ordinance expressly prohibiting deliveries by mobile dispensaries headquartered outside the City.  The Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc., challenged the 2013 ordinance, arguing the City was required to undertake a preliminary review of environmental impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act prior to its adoption.  The Union asserted that the ordinance had foreseeable environmental effects, including travel by residents seeking medical marijuana outside the City and increased electrical use, water consumption and waste due to higher levels of indoor marijuana cultivation.  The Court of Appeal found that, because the 2013 ordinance merely restated the 2007 ordinance, it did not constitute a “project” under CEQA and was therefore exempt from review.  Additionally, the environmental impacts cited by the Union were too speculative for the 2013 ordinance to be considered a project. Continue Reading

A Proposition 65 Violation May Be Lurking in Your Cash Register Receipt

Many consumer-facing businesses have learned to identify high-risk Prop 65 targets:  soft, flexible plastics; faux and colored leathers; and any kind of brass or metal that may contain lead or other heavy metals.  But businesses need to take action to avoid Prop 65 liability based on a new culprit: bisphenol-A (BPA) that may be lurking in your cash register receipts and other thermal papers.  Continue Reading

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Challenge to San Jose’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance; Justice Thomas Suggests The Issue is Far From Settled

California Building Industry Association, et al. v. City of San Jose, et al., (2016)

On February 29, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States denied the California Building Industry’s petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of the decision of the California Supreme Court in California Building Industry Assn. v. City of San Jose,(2015) 61 Cal. 4th 435. In his concurrence with the denial of certiorari, Justice Thomas stated that the Nollan/Dolan line of decisions would have governed the City’s actions had it imposed these conditions through administrative action, but that lower courts have long been divided over whether the Nollan/Dolan test applies in cases where the alleged taking arises from a legislatively imposed condition rather than an administrative one. Justice Thomas went on to state that he “doubts that ‘the existence of a taking should turn on the type of governmental entity responsible for the taking,’” and that until the Supreme Court of the United States resolves this issue, there will be uncertainty as to which legal standard governs.  Nevertheless, Justice Thomas concluded that the case at hand did not present an opportunity to resolve this conflict because (i) the City had raised threshold questions about the timeliness of the petition for certiorari that might preclude the takings clause question from being reached, (ii) CBIA had disclaimed any reliance on the Nollan/Dolan line of decisions in the prior proceedings, and (iii) the California Supreme Court’s decision did not rest on the distinction (if any) between takings effectuated through administrative versus legislative action.

For our earlier post on the California Supreme Court decision, click here.

 

New Live/Work Ordinance Adopted by L.A. City Council

On February 10, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council adopted the “HI” Hybrid Industrial Live/Work Zone Ordinance, which creates a new zone classification in the City of Los Angeles, the Hybrid Industrial (HI) Zone, with accompanying land use and development standards.  The Ordinance becomes effective March 30, 2016.  Generally, the purpose of this new zone classification is to permit the development of residential live/work units, hotels and other specified commercial uses on property within an existing current industrial zone and designated as Hybrid Industrial in the General Plan. Continue Reading

State Agency’s Intentional Flooding for Environmental Protection Results in Physical Taking of Private Property – Strict Liability Applies

Pacific Shores Property Owners Association v. Department of Fish and Wildlife (1/20/16, C070201)

On January 20, 2016, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District of California ruled that where a state agency assumes control of a local flood control process, and it determines to provide less flood protection than historically provided by a local agency in order to protect environmental resources, the state agency is liable in inverse condemnation for a physical taking of plaintiffs’ property, and not liable for a regulatory one. However, the agency also acquires a flowage easement as a result of the taking and the compensation provided to the property‑owners. Continue Reading

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