In late June, California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a Superior Court decision in Save Our Access v. City of San Diego, providing clarity for determining when a “later activity” is beyond the scope of an existing Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Specifically, the Court held that a proposed ballot measure initiated by the City of San Diego to exclude the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area from a voter-enacted height limit did not qualify as a “later activity” within the scope of the existing PEIR for the Community Plan Update because the PEIR relied on the height limit in its analysis of the potential environmental impacts. The Court held that the proper remedy is for the City to conduct further analysis of the potential impact of taller buildings in the Community Plan area in order to comply with CEQA before proceeding with the ballot measure.
Whitney Hodges is a partner in the Real Estate, Energy, Land Use & Environmental Practice Group in the firm's San Diego office. She is the leader of the firm’s Cannabis Industry Team and serves on the firm's Pro Bono, Recruiting and Diversity & Inclusion committees, as well as numerous industry specific teams.
On June 13, 2023, the Second Appellate District affirmed the City of Pomona’s use of a statutory exemption for its Commercial Cannabis Overlay Permit Program under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines section 15183, finding that the program required no additional environmental review. The decision in Lucas v. City of Pomona is noteworthy for the appellate court’s broad interpretation of the statutory exemption, holding that (i) the City’s zoning ordinance, General Plan Update, and environmental impact report (EIR) that do not address “density” may be exempt under CEQA Guidelines section 15183, and (ii) uses, including cannabis-related uses, that are not literally included in land use plan documents, may be determined to be sufficiently similar to existing and defined land uses allowed by underlying zoning.…
Last week, in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, the Ninth Circuit ruled the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) preempts local bans on the installation of natural gas infrastructure in new construction. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit held that EPCA’s preemption of local efforts to regulate the energy use of natural gas appliances is to be construed broadly, applying equally to regulations that affect the use of such appliances. In other words, because the City of Berkeley’s ban on natural gas pipes in new construction “render[ed] the gas appliances useless,” it had improperly infringed on the federal government’s exclusive power to regulate the use of gas appliances.…
Last week the Office of the Attorney General demonstrated the State of California’s unwillingness to cede its enforcement of state housing laws even in the face of defiance from local governments. On April 10, in People of California v. City of Huntington Beach (OCSC, Case No. 30-2023-01312235-CU-WM-CJC), Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a Motion to Amend its Petition For Writ of Mandate and Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (Motion to Amend), which included the proposed First Amended Petition (Amended Petition), after the City of Huntington Beach (City), again, failed to adopt its sixth cycle update to its Housing Element (6th Cycle) on April 4, 2023 – more than 16 months after the statutory deadline – in violation of the state Housing Element Law (Govt Code. § 65580 et seq.). …
As of January 31st, the deadline for many Bay Area cities and counties to adopt legally compliant Housing Elements now has passed, and many jurisdictions remain without certifications from the…Continue Reading As Deadline for Housing Element Certification Passes, “Builder’s Remedy” and AB 1398 Remedies Loom for Noncompliant Bay Area Cities and Counties
For many in the cannabis industry, April 1, 2022 is seen as a day of reckoning following the July 2021 passage of Assembly Bill 141 and Senate Bill 160 (collectively, the Cannabis Trailer Bill). In an attempt to transition to an annual licensure program, April 1st marked the beginning of the end for provisional cannabis licensure. It also ushered in significant changes to renewal process for previously granted provisional licenses. These modifications now require applicants to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Res. Code §§ 21000 et seq.) (CEQA), a complex statewide policy of environmental protection fraught with potential traps for those unversed in the law, before an operator is eligible to be awarded a cannabis state license. This requirement alone carries the potential to create a much higher barrier to entrance into the cannabis market.
Continue Reading No April Fools: Starting April 1st, Cannabis Operators Face CEQA Compliance Requirements for State Licenses
In Citizens’ Committee to Complete the Refuge et al. v. City of Newark et al., the First District Court of Appeal (Div. 4) found the California Environmental Quality Act did not require subsequent or supplemental environmental review for the City of Newark’s approval of a 469‑lot residential subdivision project. Instead, the court affirmed the City’s use of Government Code section 65457’s CEQA exemption for projects consistent with a “specific plan” for which a environmental impact report (EIR) was previously certified.
Continue Reading Petitioners Failed to Show Subdivision Consistent With a Specific Plan EIR Was Outside the Scope of a Statutory Exemption
On September 16th, hot off the heels of surviving California’s latest recall effort, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation aimed at addressing the statewide housing crisis – a critical topic leading up to last week’s election. The suite of bills, Senate Bills (SB) 8, 9 and 10 and Assembly Bill (AB) 1174, coupled with the recently announced California Comeback Plan, carry the potential to expand housing production, streamline permitting and promote density closer to major employment hubs.
Continue Reading California Enacts New Legislation to Combat Growing Housing Crisis, But Not Without Controversy
In Alliance for Responsible Planning v. Taylor, the Third District Court of Appeal recently struck down a voter initiative requiring a developer to fund all cumulative traffic mitigation as a condition precedent to project approval as an unconstitutional taking. More specifically, the Court found that El Dorado County’s Measure E, which was adopted in 2016 and amended the County of El Dorado general plan (General Plan) to require developers to fund traffic improvements prior to the issuance of discretionary approvals needed to develop the remainder of the project, would require a development pay more than its fair share.
Continue Reading Mandate to Provide Traffic Improvements Prior to Project Approval Struck Down
Effective February 1, 2021, the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom approved Senate Bill (“SB”) 91 – Eviction Protection and Relief Act in further response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In essence, SB 91 extends core tenant protections established by August 2020’s Assembly Bill (“AB”) 3088, but also establishes the State Rental Assistance Program, provides rental assistance for landlords and tenants, and closes existing loopholes in AB 3088.
Continue Reading California Legislature Extends Residential Eviction Moratorium and Implements Rental Assistance Program for Landlords and Tenants
Late last week, in an effort to control the increase of COVID-19 cases and stabilize the overwhelming hospital systems, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new Regional Stay At Home Order (December Order) based on Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed capacity. Under the December Order, if the available ICU capacity dips below 15% in any of the 5 designated regions, said region will be placed into a stay-at-home order. Such order will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. following the day the region hits the ICU threshold, and will continue until the region’s total available adult ICU bed capacity is greater than or equal to 15% projected over 4 weeks. If the December Order is in effect in a region, it supersedes any conflicting terms in other California Department of Public Health order, directive or guidance. Once the stay-at-home order lifts for any impacted region, the December Order will no longer apply and each county in said region will be assigned to a tier based on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Continue Reading Regional Stay at Home Order Implemented in California