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

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

Late last week, in an effort to control the increase of COVID-19 cases and stabilize the overwhelming hospital systems,[1] 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

Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (“L.A. Public Health”) announced that all outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants, breweries and wineries will be restricted, effective November 25, 2020 at 10:00 p.m., while take-out, drive thru, and delivery services may continue (“Order”).
Continue Reading Los Angeles County Restricts In-Person Dining Due to Surge in COVID-19 Cases

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

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

This article originally appeared in the California Lawyers Association’s Real Property, Environmental and Public Law Journals Joint Issue.

As society responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, states and local governments across the United States, including the State of California, issued shelter-in place (“SIP”) orders[i] to prevent its spread. While intended to benefit Americans in the long run, these actions have resulted in massive and largely unprecedented disruptions in the economy, including record levels of unemployment and sharply limiting the ability of businesses to provide, and customers to purchase, goods and services.[ii] The effects of the pandemic are wide spread and have created financial hardships for individuals and families in every state and locality, as well as inexplicable shortages of toilet paper.[iii]


Continue Reading The Pandemic’s Impacts on Developers and Contractors May Call for Seldom-Used Relief: An Overview of the Principles of Force Majeure, Impracticability, and Frustration of Purpose

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

On April 6, 2020, the California State Judicial Council adopted Emergency Rule 9 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1]  As originally approved, the rule tolled the statute of limitations for all civil causes of action from April 6, 2020 until 90 days after the Governor lifts the current State of Emergency Declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading Judicial Council Amends Tolling Period for Statutes Limitations Impacted by COVID-19

On a unanimous vote yesterday, May 6, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance (“New Ordinance“) amending rules in the Los Angeles Municipal Code that temporarily prohibit the eviction of residential and commercial tenants in the City of Los Angeles for failure to pay rent due to COVID-19.  Notably, the New Ordinance would extend the prohibition period on evictions.  The original period was previously limited to the local emergency period as declared by Mayor Eric Garcetti.  For residential tenants, the new prohibition period would extend to include the “Local Emergency Period” plus 12 months after the end of such period.  And for commercial tenants the new period prohibiting evictions would extend through the Local Emergency Period plus 3 months after the end of the emergency period.  Please note that the final version of the New Ordinance was not available with the Council Clerk file as of the time of publication given that the ordinance was the subject of several amendments as it was considered by Council during yesterday’s virtual hearing that went into the evening.  Also, these amendments will not take effect until Mayor Garcetti signs the New Ordinance, which is expected to be completed in short order.
Continue Reading Los Angeles City Council Passes Ordinance to Expand Temporary Tenant Protections

In an earlier post, we covered the local Shelter-in-Place (“SIP”) orders, which severely restricted construction activities throughout the Bay Area.  This week the participating jurisdictions (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties) updated their SIP orders to ease restrictions on construction.  The changes took effect May 4 and will continue through May 31, unless further modified.
Continue Reading New Bay Area COVID-19 Orders Ease Restrictions on Construction and Impose New Safety Protocols