The new 2021-2022 California legislative session has kicked off with the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package, its latest effort to tackle zoning and California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) reforms in an effort to address California’s ongoing housing crisis.  “Each one of these bills is targeted at an element of the housing crisis, and together, they give us a unified approach that would create pathways to home ownership, stable housing for vulnerable families, and a pathway to economic stability for Californians across the golden state,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins when announcing the housing package. As anticipated in our summary of new legislation effective in 2021, this housing package builds upon the housing production bills from the previous legislative session that failed to pass out of committee or gain concurrence votes before the session ended.  Given that many of the bills replicate language from the failed 2020 housing legislation, the senators appear confident that more of these bills will be approved in this new session.
Continue Reading California Senate Returns Its Focus to Housing in 2021-2022 Legislative Session

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,[1] 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

In follow up to the New York City Department of City Planning’s (DCP), January 22nd, public hearing on the Draft Scope of Work for the City’s proposed Hotel Special Permit text amendment, there were several speakers both in support of and in opposition to the proposed legislation.  Of note, were five elected officials who testified in support of the Hotel Special Permit, with a unified message, that the development of hotels takes away opportunities for affordable housing in this City, and therefore, hotels must be regulated at a higher level than other uses.  Generally, the opposition cited to the City’s failure to provide a land use rationale for the Draft Scope of Work, the lack of any defined issue or specific policy objective that this proposed Hotel Special Permit seeks to address and the potential impact of the proposed Hotel Special Permit on the City’s economic recovery.
Continue Reading City Planning Holds First Public Hearing for its Citywide Hotel Special Permit Text

On December 30, 2020, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the “Department”) promulgated statewide ambient limits on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions for the years 2030 and 2050 (the “Regulations”).[1]  The GHGs covered by the Regulations include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons.[2]  The final Regulations constitute a critical step in the implementation of New York State’s climate strategy set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”).
Continue Reading New York Moves Further Toward Implementation of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act with Final Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits for 2030 and 2050

The California Legislature made modest gains on housing production and stimulus bills in 2020, and there are several notable bills that took effect on January 1, 2021.  The new laws tackle COVID-19, project permit streamlining and planning, residential density bonus, and the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).  Below is a summary of these new laws.
Continue Reading California Housing Legislation Effective in 2021

This past week, in a 4 to 3 decision,  New York’s highest court – the Court of Appeals – decided an important New York City land use question regarding how “open space” is accessed by residents on a zoning lot with multiple buildings In the Matter of Randy Peyton, et al v. NYC Board of Standards and Appeals, et al.  This rollercoaster ride ended with the Court of Appeals overturning the First Department, Appellate Division’s decision, and ultimately agreeing with the NYC Department of Buildings original application of the law, which was affirmed by the quasi-judicial NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).  The Court of Appeals determined that open space available for use by residents of one building, such as a rooftop garden, does not need to be accessed by residents in other buildings when the buildings are part of a single zoning lot in order to satisfy zoning “open space” requirements, putting to rest this controversial question.
Continue Reading NY Court of Appeals Decides Who Gets Access to Required “Open Space”

The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) has scheduled a public scoping meeting for Friday January 22, 2021 for the Citywide Hotel Text Amendment. The Citywide Hotel Text Amendment seeks to establish a new City Planning Commission special permit for new and enlarged transient hotels, motels, tourist cabins, and boatels in districts where such uses are currently allowed as-of-right, including C1, C2, C4, C5, C6, C8, Mixed-Use (MX), and paired M1/R districts.  The new hotel special permit would require new hotels and other transient uses to go through ULURP, the city’s land use review process. The proposed text amendment would retain existing regulations for hotels in M1 districts where a special permit was previously adopted in December 2018.  The draft scoping materials state that DCP is also evaluating changes to the Zoning Resolution’s discontinuance provisions for existing commercial hotels in all zoning districts citywide, to consider allowing hotels that are currently closed due to conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic to retain their legal transient use status, as-of-right, until after demand recovers.
Continue Reading City Planning Announces Citywide Hotel Special Permit Text

The New York City Council, under Speaker Corey Johnson, announced this week the release of a proposal for “A New Comprehensive Planning Framework for New York City,” to support equitable, inclusive growth, and citing the City’s current “planning framework, or lack thereof, [as being] inherently flawed.”  The report was released in tandem with legislation introduced by Speaker Johnson at the Council’s December 17 stated meeting (Int 2186-2020), requiring a 10 year comprehensive planning cycle.
Continue Reading NYC Council Announces Land Use Overhaul

On November 25, 2020, Judge Ronnie Abrams of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a decision in Melendez, et al. v. The City of New York, et al. (No. 20-CV-5301 (RA) upholding amendments to certain New York City Council ordinances prohibiting landlords from harassing residential and commercial tenants impacted by COVID-19 and preventing landlords from enforcing personal guaranties in commercial leases if the tenant’s monetary default was caused by the pandemic.
Continue Reading Southern District of New York Upholds New York City Council COVID-19 Tenant Protection Ordinances

City of Los Angeles apartment owners recently lost their bid in Federal Court to halt the application of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s eviction moratorium[1] and rent freeze ordinance[2] (the “City Moratorium”). Senior United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson ruled on November 13, 2020 that the apartment owners had failed to show “irreparable harm” because (a) there was no immediate threat of foreclosure, and (b) the City Moratorium appeared to be “imminently reasonable” in the context of the unprecedented pandemic.[3]

Continue Reading Federal Judge Blocks Eviction Moratorium Challenge by Los Angeles Apartment Owners