Category Archives: Land Use and Entitlements

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Failure to Include A No-Build Analysis in Project Description Does Not Violate CEQA

In the belatedly-published Environmental Council of Sacramento, et al. v. County of Sacramento (Cordova Hills, LLC, et al. – Real Parties-in-Interest) (2020) ____ Cal.App.5th ____,[1] the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed judgment against a slew of California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) claims centered on Environmental Council’s and Sierra Club’s (collectively, “Environmental Council” or “petitioners”) … Continue Reading

Navigable Waters Protection Rule: How are the “Waters of the United States” Being Defined?

On January 23, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (the “2020 Rule”), which includes a revised definition of the “waters of the United States” subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act.[1] The revisions in the 2020 Rule come … Continue Reading

Housing in California in 2020: A Look Ahead and a Lesson in Try, Try Again

Indisputably, 2019 was an important year for housing in California. As we noted in our prior blog post, Governor Newsom signed legislation creating statewide rent control, preventing discrimination against people paying rent with vouchers, and preventing cities from downzoning in order to inhibit new construction projects. And, according to legislators involved in these efforts, the … Continue Reading

California Housing Legislation – 2019 Update

In 2019, the California legislature passed, and Governor Newsom approved, new legislation impacting the development industry. Effective January 1, 2020, the laws summarized in the link below will impact the development process in many ways – from streamlining local permitting procedures for eligible projects to tenant protections and new incentives for financing affordable housing. The … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Holds Charter Cities Are Bound By State Housing Objectives, Signaling Erosion of Local Discretion

In Anderson v. City of San Jose (2019), the Sixth District Court of Appeal held that California’s charter cities must comply with the Surplus Land Act (Govt. Code § 54220 et seq.).[1] This decision, essentially, ruled that the statewide housing crisis is of paramount importance, and that all cities – even charter cities – must … Continue Reading

Fall Season Results in California Coastal Commission Victories

This Fall, the California Coastal Commission (“Commission”) was handed down two significant victories, further cementing its authority and jurisdiction within California coastal zones. These cases demonstrate that, in certain instances, compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Res. Code §§ 21000 et seq.) (“CEQA”) and local regulations may not be enough to secure development rights … Continue Reading

California’s “Housing Crisis Act of 2019” May Boost Housing Production or Just Boost Housing-Related Litigation

On October 9, 2019, Governor Newsom signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 330, or the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019” in an effort to combat California’s current housing shortage, which has resulted in the highest rents and lowest homeownership rates in the nation. In a nutshell, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 seeks to boost … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Rules HERO Cannot Save Previously Vacated Rental Units

In rejecting a California Environmental Quality Act challenge to a mitigated negative declaration for conversion of a vacant apartment building into a 24-room boutique hotel (the “Project”), the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the City of Los Angeles’s use of an existing conditions baseline when assessing housing and population impacts. The decision in Hollywoodians … Continue Reading

Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment Upheld Under CEQA

In Sacramentans for Fair Planning v. City of Sacramento (2019) ___ Cal.App. 5th ___, the Third District Court of Appeal upheld the City of Sacramento’s use of a sustainable communities environmental assessment (“SCEA”) pursuant to the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375), rather than a more traditional CEQA document (i.e., an environmental impact … Continue Reading

California State Budget Summary: Allocations for Housing and Homelessness

On June 26, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fiscal Year 2019-20 State Budget into law. The State’s fiscal year begins July 1st and funding will be available by end of July 2019. The approved budget allocates $2.4 billion to help address homelessness and affordable housing needs, and includes:[1] Short-term planning and infill infrastructure … Continue Reading

CDP Applicant May Not Challenge Local Agency’s CEQA Decision on Coastal Development Permit While CDP Appeal to Coastal Commission Is Pending

In Fudge v. City of Laguna (G055711), published on February 13, 2019, the Fourth District Court of Appeal joined the First and Sixth Districts by reaffirming the need for a litigant to wait for the California Coastal Commission’s (“Commission”) determination on the appeal of a coastal development permit (“CDP”) prior to initiating litigation. The key … Continue Reading

Cannabis Regulation is the New Frontier in Real Estate and Land Use Control

California has positioned itself as a leader on emerging cannabis policy. While federal law still prohibits cannabis-related activities within the State’s borders, several largely progressive laws in California permit the possession, cultivation, transportation, and distribution of cannabis. The effects of the burgeoning cannabis industry are far-reaching, and have already proven to significantly impact the real estate … Continue Reading

Battle for Rent Control May Not be Over

In the months leading to the election, cities and counties began to adopt resolutions and other measures to advance potential rent control measures. In Los Angeles, the City Council approved a Resolution in support of Proposition 10 by a vote of 13-1 last month. The Resolution highlighted the increasingly high rental rates in the area … Continue Reading

California Housing Legislation (2017-2018)

State lawmakers passed over 1,200 bills this year, the most in more than a decade according to sources. Governor Brown signed 1,016 into law as of September 30th. Below is a summary of the bills signed into law regulating the planning and development of housing. The majority will take effect on January 1, 2019.… Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Holds Bureau of Land Management Improperly Relied On Unsupported and Irrational Assumption in Analyzing Environmental Impacts of Coal Mining Leases

WildEarth Guardians v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., 870 F.3d 1222 (10th Cir. 2017). WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) brought a claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (the “Act”) against the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM), challenging the BLM’s decision to grant four coal leases in Wyoming’s Powder River … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Takes Expansive View of the Definition of the Term “Mining,” Holding Wind Farm Project Needs Permit Prior to Commencement of Excavation in Tribal Mineral Estate

United States of America v. Osage Wind, LLC et al., 871 F.3d 1078 2017 WL 4109940 (10th Cir. Sept. 18, 2017). Causing heartburn for project applicants developing on tribal land, the Tenth Circuit reversed the District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma’s grant of summary judgment and determined that the defendants’ large-scale excavation project, involving … Continue Reading

Are You Sure You Want to Challenge That Permit Condition?

Barbara Lynch et al. v. California Coastal Commission, Case No. S221980 The California Supreme Court has drawn a deeper line in the sand by (a) refusing to expand the Mitigation Fee Act to cover “land use restrictions” in permit conditions of approval that are unrelated to the project’s construction, and (b) requiring applicants to litigate their … Continue Reading

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
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