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Court of Appeal Finds Caltrans Omitted Material Necessary to Informed Decision Making by Failing to Include a Threshold of...

In Lotus v. Department of Transportation (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 645, a California Court of Appeal found that Caltrans omitted material necessary to informed decision-making and informed public-participation when it failed to...more

3/4/2014 - Caltrans CEQA Environmental Assessments Environmental Liability Omissions

“Spot Zoning” Found Permissible Where Small Parcel Given Greater Rights than Surrounding Properties and New Zoning Served the...

The Orange County Board of Supervisors (“Board”) approved a proposed senior citizen living community (“Project”) on a seven-acre parcel, creating a new zoning definition for senior residential housing and rezoning the parcel...more

1/27/2014 - Land Developers Municipalities Public Interest Real Estate Market Urban Planning & Development

Expert Testimony Recommending Vapor Intrusion Study is Insufficient Evidence of Health Effects, Does Not Trigger Need for EIR

After the Berkeley City Council (“City”) approved a mixed-use commercial and residential project on the site of a former car dealership and service garage, a community group sued, claiming that pre-existing contamination on...more

1/14/2014 - Contaminated Properties Environmental Impact Report Expert Testimony Expert Witness Vapor Intrusion

County Application for Jail Expansion State Funding Not a “Project” Requiring CEQA Review

In 2011, after the state legislature approved realignment legislation and funds to shift low-level offenders from state prisons to county jails, Orange County (“County”) applied for state funding to expand its jail facility...more

12/18/2013 - CEQA Environmental Policies Public Projects

Minor General Plan Housing Element Update Does Not Require New EIR

In the interests of finality, the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) places limits on additional environmental review once a government agency has already completed environmental review for a project. After an...more

12/10/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Environmental Policies

Public Interest in Renewable Energy May Outweigh the Purpose of the Williamson Act; Cancellation of Williamson Act Contracts May...

After a Central Valley county cancelled Williamson Act contracts on ranchland to make way for a solar energy plant, several environmental groups sued challenging the County’s decision. The trial court found against the...more

11/21/2013 - CEQA Energy Energy Policy Environmental Impact Report Farms Renewable Energy Williamson Act

City Planning Commission’s Certification of EIR Found Improper Because City Council Improperly Delegated CEQA Certification

A city’s planning commission certified an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for a city general plan update and recommended the city council approve the update. The certification and approval were not appealed to the...more

11/11/2013 - Administrative Remedies CEQA Certifications City Councils Environmental Impact Report Urban Planning & Development

Legislature Passes Arena Bill

Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 743 (“SB 743”) on September 27, 2013. The bill amends the Public Resources Code to streamline the environmental review for the new downtown arena in Sacramento and eliminate...more

11/11/2013 - CEQA Construction Contracts Urban Planning & Development

“Pay First, Litigate Later” Doctrine Applies to Local Governments: Taxpayers Required to Pay Local Assessments Until Resolution of...

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California (“District”) protects groundwater quality in Los Angeles County groundwater basins from overuse and saltwater intrusion. The District finances its efforts through an...more

11/8/2013 - Environmental Claims Groundwater State and Local Government Tax Assessment Tax Liability

Winery Zoning Ordinance Allowing Establishment of Boutique Wineries Without Discretionary Permits Survives CEQA Challenge

A county prepared an environmental impact report (“EIR”) and adopted a zoning ordinance allowing the development of small wineries “by right,” without a discretionary permit. A citizens group opposed to the ordinance sued,...more

11/4/2013 - CEQA Permits Wine & Alcohol

Environmental Impact Report Must Compare Existing Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Those of the Proposed Project

A city approved relocation and expansion of an existing Wal-Mart into a 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter. Opponents of the expansion sued, claiming the project approval violated the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”)...more

9/20/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Greenhouse Gas Emissions Wal-Mart

Court Upholds County’s Ban of Single-Use Plastic

A coalition of companies involved in making and distributing plastic bags challenged an ordinance that bans single-use plastic bags and imposes a fee. The coalition alleged that the county failed to comply with the California...more

9/16/2013 - CEQA Environmental Claims Environmental Policies Plastic Bag Bans

Air Quality Thresholds of Significance Not a “Project” Under CEQA

A local air quality management district proposed new thresholds of significance for air pollutants to meet tighter state and federal air quality standards and to clarify analysis of air pollutant impacts under the California...more

9/12/2013 - Air Pollution Air Quality Standards CEQA Environmental Impact Report Land Developers

California Supreme Court Settles the CEQA Baseline Debate

A transportation authority planned a light-rail extension line and prepared an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”). In analyzing traffic and air quality impacts, the EIR omitted an existing conditions baseline and instead...more

9/10/2013 - CEQA Environmental Claims Environmental Impact Report Environmental Policies Smart Rail

Use of Agricultural Conservation Easements Must Be Considered In Mitigating Loss of Prime Farmland To Development

A sand and gravel quarry was proposed for a site containing 45 acres of prime farmland. The Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) analyzing the development concluded that obtaining perpetual agricultural conservation easements...more

8/13/2013 - Conservation Easements Easements Environmental Impact Report Farms Land Developers

CEQA Review Of Regulatory Program Must be Completed Before Approval Of Regulations

A state agency’s board approved new environmental regulations on fuels contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time delegated completion of environmental review and response to public comments to the agency’s...more

7/31/2013 - CEQA Ethanol Greenhouse Gas Emissions Oil & Gas

CEQA Challenge To Residential Development Project Was Time-Barred Because It Was Subject To 30-Day Statute Of Limitations

A challenge to a city’s approval of a residential development project was filed more than 30 days after the city approved the project. The trial court held that the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) challenge was...more

7/25/2013 - CEQA Environmental Claims Exemptions Land Developers Public Projects Residential Leases Statute of Limitations Written Notice

Fifth District Court Of Appeal Rules Communications Between Lead Agency And Developer Made Prior To Project Approval Must Be...

A citizens group challenged the development of a shopping center anchored by a Wal-Mart store by filing a lawsuit stating that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). After the city prepared the...more

7/22/2013 - CEQA Disclosure Requirements Electronic Communications Project Management Wal-Mart

To Comply With The Brown Act, Consideration Of A CEQA Document Must Be Listed As A Separate Agenda Item From Consideration Of...

A county planning commission posted a meeting agenda that included an item on a potential approval of a subdivision application. At the meeting, the commission not only approved the subdivision, it also approved a Mitigated...more

6/7/2013 - CEQA Mitigated Negative Declaration Notice Requirements Public Meetings Ralph M. Brown Act

Court of Appeal Reverses Trial Court’s Disapproval Of Environmental Impact Report For Seawater Desalination Plant

A municipal water district proposed a project to build a seawater desalination plant to avoid predicted future water supply shortages. After the water district certified an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for the...more

6/6/2013 - CEQA Clean Water Act Critical Habitat Endangered Species Act Environmental Impact Report Fishing Industry Greenhouse Gas Emissions Seismic Data Water

Court of Appeal Narrowly Reads School Bond Measure Language; Parking Shortfall May Constitute An Environmental Impact Under CEQA

A school district board placed a large bond measure on the city ballot to fund projects at multiple schools in the district, including a project to erect stadium lighting at a high school. ...more

6/5/2013 - ADA CEQA Environmental Impact Report Funding Public Schools

Public Agency May Begin Eminent Domain Proceedings Before Completing CEQA Review, But May Not Actually Acquire The Property Until...

A racetrack landowner challenged a regional park district’s plan to condemn part of the property for construction of a bayside trail, asserting that the park district was required under eminent domain law and the California...more

5/13/2013 - CEQA Compliance Eminent Domain Environmental Impact Report Environmental Review

Housing Development With Optional Retail Component Qualifies For CEQA Exemption For Residential Projects Consistent With...

A group of citizens challenged a city’s determination that a proposed residential development qualifies for an exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) as a residential project that is consistent with...more

4/24/2013

Late Filing Of Appeal Of Environmental Impact Report And Project Approval Is Not Excused Under Code Of Civil Procedure Section 473

An organization sought to challenge a county’s project approval and certification of an Environmental Impact Report for a 155,000-square-foot building, but filed the case three days late. The trial court dismissed the case. ...more

4/11/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Extensions Statute of Limitations

Court Of Appeal Finds County Approval Of EIR For Sand And Gravel Mining Project Does Not Violate CEQA

An organization challenged a county’s approval of a final revised environmental impact report for a project that would allow sand and gravel mining in the bed of the Cuyama River. The court of appeal affirmed the trial...more

4/1/2013 - CEQA Conditional Use Permit Environmental Impact Report Mining Mitigation Water

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