Under California’s Proposition 65 (“Prop 65”), businesses are required to give “clear and reasonable warnings” to consumers regarding potential chemical exposure if their product contains a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer.” In the recent decision Nat’l Association of Wheat Growers, et al. v. Bonta, et al., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal explored businesses’ First Amendment rights and the government’s ability to compel commercial speech. The Ninth Circuit found that the State of California cannot compel businesses to provide a Prop 65 warning for glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in the world. Continue Reading The Intersection of Prop 65 and Free Speech: A Recent Win for Businesses

On October 7, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law two sweeping climate disclosure bills, Senate Bill 253 (“SB 253”), the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, and Senate Bill

Continue Reading Change is in the Air: Everything You Need to Know About California’s Sweeping New Climate Disclosure Laws

In it’s recent decision in United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles (2023) ___ Cal.App.5th ___, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment voiding the City of Los Angeles’s reliance on the CEQA Class 32 Infill Exemption for a hotel project in Hollywood that would demolish 40 rent-stabilized units (RSO). In upholding the trial court decision, the appellate court emphasized the City’s failure to adequately assess the Project’s consistency with all applicable general plan policies, as required by CEQA Guidelines section 15332(a).Continue Reading Second District Addresses CEQA’s Class 32 Infill Exemption Criteria

In the ever-evolving landscape of residential real estate, California is once again at the forefront with the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 1837 and AB 2170, which became effective on January 1, 2023. Aimed at increasing homeownership for individual residents, these laws build upon the groundwork laid by Senate Bill (SB) 1079 in 2020, which required institutions to sell foreclosed homes individually instead of in bundles, in an effort to create more affordable housing and community stability by limiting when investors can purchase foreclosed homes. The new law, codified in California Civil Code section 2923 et seq., extends SB 1079’s protections until January 1, 2031.Continue Reading Navigating California’s New Foreclosure Laws: A Guide for Institutions

The City of Los Angeles’s Planning Department is proposing an expansion to the City’s innovative adaptive reuse policies. Specifically, the City is proposing to amend Sections 12.03, 12.22 A.26, 12.24 X and 16.05 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) and Adaptive Reuse Incentive Areas Specific Plan (Ordinance No. 175,038) in an attempt to reshape the Los Angeles cityscape from 2023 to 2025 by converting vacant commercial spaces into dwelling units, guest rooms or joint living and work quarters (“Citywide Adaptive Reuse Ordinance[1]”). The amendment is intended to facilitate the reuse of existing buildings to address the City’s housing crisis and revitalize Downtown Los Angeles. The conversion of vacant office space will provide a sustainable response to urban development challenges and impacts of the COVID pandemic on the real estate market.Continue Reading Los Angeles Citywide Adaptive Reuse Ordinance: A Push Towards Sustainable Housing

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.Continue Reading California Court Holds Proposed Ballot Measure Excluding Community Plan Area from Height Limit Is Not a “Later Activity” For Purposes of a Within-the-Scope Analysis

On July 6, 2023, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass signed into law a provision to exempt certain affordable housing projects from the city’s Site Plan Review Process. The exemption was made as an amendment to Site Plan Review Ordinance, codifying part of Mayor Bass’ Executive Directive 1, which intends to address the city’s homelessness crisis by accelerating the pace and lowering the cost of building affordable housing.Continue Reading Los Angeles Mayor Signs New Legislation Exempting Affordable Housing Projects from Site Plan Review

On July 10, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a package of bills intended to accelerate critical infrastructure projects across the State aimed at achieving monumental climate and clean energy goals while also creating up to 400,000 jobs. With the goal of “building more, faster,” this infrastructure streamlining package will take effect immediately, and includes portions of Newsom’s previously proposed infrastructure package reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)[1].Continue Reading Build More, Faster? Newsom Signs Infrastructure and Budget Legislation 

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,[1] 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.Continue Reading Commercial Cannabis Permit Program and Overlay District Statutorily Exempt Under CEQA Guideline Section 15183

On May 19, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a legislative package of 10 bills reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) intended to speed up construction of clean energy projects by streamlining regulations for solar, wind, and battery storage projects, transit and regional rail infrastructure projects, water storage projects, and the Delta Tunnel plan. The proposed measures were designed as mechanisms to accelerate such projects to completion in order to maximize California’s share of federal infrastructure dollars available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and expedite the implementation of projects that meet the state’s ambitious economic, climate, and social goals.Continue Reading CEQA Reforms for Clean Energy Projects: Still Possible Despite Senate Budget Committee Rejection?