New Rules and Legislation

At the end of the 2020 legislative session, California Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 288 (Wiener)[1] (SB 288) into law.  SB 288, amends the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), streamlining the environmental review process for: (i) specific transportation-related projects, including bus rapid transit projects, light rail service projects, construction or maintenance of charging or refueling stations for zero-emission buses; (ii) projects that improve customer information and wayfinding for transit riders, bicyclists, or pedestrians; (iii) city or county projects designed to minimize parking requirements; and (iv) similar transportation oriented projects.  Specifically, SB 288 designates these projects necessary to facilitate development of sustainable transportation alternatives and related infrastructure, encouraging broader use of sustainable transit throughout the state.  Due to this designation, SB 288 exempts these projects from CEQA review as categorical exemptions beginning January 1, 2021.  SB 288 is slated to sunset on January 1, 2030.  In addition, SB 288 extends the existing exemption for bicycle transportation plans (including restriping of streets and highways, bicycle parking and storage, signage, and related improvements to intersection operations) from the existing sunset date[2] to January 1, 2030.
Continue Reading SB 288: Sustainable Transportation and the “Road to Recovery” for Post-COVID Air Pollution and Unemployment Concerns

Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a number of housing bills into law that were passed by the Legislature this session ending on August 31, 2020.  Due to the severe scheduling constraints placed on lawmakers by the COVID-19 pandemic among other challenges, the Legislature was only able to pass a small number of bills related to housing and tenant protections, despite beginning the year with over 100 bills under consideration.  Most notably, some of the most ambitious pieces of legislation including five of the bills in the State Senate’s Housing Production Package all failed to pass before the midnight deadline on August 31, 2020.  We will continue to monitor the Legislature’s efforts to spur additional housing production in California as we head into the Fall recess and the new legislative session starting on December 7, 2020.  Below is a summary of the bills signed by the Governor on August 28, 2020.  These bills take effect on January 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted.
Continue Reading California Housing Legislation 2020

During the eleventh hour of the 2020 legislative session, the California Legislature approved 2 significant bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the potential to have far-reaching ramifications for mortgage servicers.
Continue Reading Residential Eviction Protections and California Consumer Financial Protections Pass Muster During 2020 Legislative Session

On September 15, 2020, the Army Corps of Engineers published proposed revisions to a wide range of Nationwide Permits (NWP) issued under the Clean Water Act.  The revisions respond to Executive Order 13783, directing heads of federal agencies to review existing regulations that potentially burden development or use of domestically produced energy resources.  Accordingly, the proposed revisions affect NWPs commonly utilized by utility-scale wind and solar energy projects throughout the country.  The Corps will accept comments on the proposed revisions until November 16, 2020.  Here are highlights from the proposed revisions.
Continue Reading Army Corps of Engineers Proposes Revising Broad Range of Clean Water Act Nationwide Permits

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) recently proposed a regulation that would provide more certainty to businesses regarding the Proposition 65 (“Prop 65”) warning requirements for cooked foods.  The proposed regulation is intended to incentivize businesses to lower the concentration levels in foods, encourage consistency and predictability, and ensure that warnings will be given for the foods causing the highest levels of exposure.
Continue Reading New Proposed Regulation Provides More Guidance and Some Relief on Prop 65 Warning Requirements for Heat Processed Foods and Acrylamide

California’s Proposition 13 prevents the assessed value of California real property from increasing by more than 2% per year, unless there is a change of ownership or completion of new construction.  On November 3, 2020, California voters will decide whether most commercial and industrial property should be removed from the protections of Proposition 13, with the result that such property would be subject to tax based on its fair market value.
Continue Reading Splitting The Roll – Commercial And Industrial Property Owners May Face Significant California Property Tax Increases Starting As Early As The 2022-2023 Fiscal Year

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently published a final rule (Rule) revising the implementing regulations for the National Environmental Quality Act (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq ) (NEPA).  Touted as the first comprehensive revision of CEQ’s NEPA regulations since their creation in 1978, the stated goal of the Rule includes facilitating more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA review by federal agencies.
Continue Reading Final Revisions to NEPA Regulations: Six Highlights from Major Rule Overhaul

On March 22, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that closed all non-essential businesses in New York State (the “Order”).  In connection with the Order, New York City restaurants were forced to reduce their operations to pick-up and delivery only.  On June 8, 2020, New York City entered into Phase I of the New York State reopening plan.  It is anticipated that sometime between June 22, 2020 and the beginning of July, 2020, New York City will enter into Phase II.  During Phase II, restaurants will not be allowed to serve patrons indoors, but will be permitted to commence service to patrons outdoors.  In the past, restaurants have only been allowed to serve patrons outdoors after obtaining a sidewalk café permit pursuant to zoning regulations issued by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”). The outdoor café permit process is typically expensive, burdensome, time consuming and subject to zoning restrictions and community board approval.  However, a bill has been introduced at the New York City Council (the “Bill”) that will allow restaurants to apply for a Temporary Outdoor Space Dining Permit (a “Permit”) to serve patrons outdoors by utilizing sidewalks, pedestrian plazas, streets, parking lots and other public/private owned spaces.
Continue Reading A Streamlined Process: Expedited Temporary Outdoor Dining Permits For NYC Restaurants

The New York City Department of Sanitation (“DSNY”) is proposing to amend its existing sanitation rules to require new and converted buildings classified as multiple dwelling buildings having 300 or more dwelling units to provide an enclosed “Waste Containerization System” that would support a garbage truck entering a building to pick up waste.  The purported goal of the proposed rule is to limit the large piles of garbage bags that are placed curbside on narrow sidewalks, accessible to rodents and other pests.
Continue Reading Rethinking Sanitation: NYC Proposes Rule Affecting Large Residential Buildings

MAY 8, 2020 – UPDATE: The final version of the New Ordinance has been signed by Mayor Gracetti and takes effect May 12, 2020.

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California Senate Bill (“SB”) 899, introduced in March by Senator Scott Wiener and currently in the Senate Housing, Environmental Quality, and Governance and Finance Committees, would exempt eligible affordable housing projects and mixed use projects on property owned by religious institutions and nonprofit medical facilities from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Res. Code § 21000 et seq.) (“CEQA”) and provide for other permit streamlining.  Eligible entities include nonprofit hospitals, diagnostic or treatment centers, rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes, as well as religious institutions.  As Senator Wiener noted, “religious and charitable institutions often have land to spare, and they should be able to use that land to build affordable housing and thus further their mission.  SB 899 ensures that affordable housing can be built and removes local zoning and approval obstacles in order to do so.”  These eligible organizations may partner with a qualified nonprofit developer or local public entity to construct the affordable housing developments.
Continue Reading Proposed Legislation Aims to Boost Affordable Housing on Land Owned by Religious Institutions and Nonprofit Hospitals