Sarah E. Owsowitz

Sarah E. Owsowitz

Best Best & Krieger LLP

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New Law Requires Formal Consultation with Native American Tribes During CEQA Process

Agencies Must, Upon Request, Consult With Tribes About “Tribal Cultural Resources” - Assembly Bill 52, signed yesterday by Gov. Jerry Brown, seeks to protect a new class of resources under CEQA: “tribal cultural...more

9/29/2014 - CEQA Native American Issues Tribal Governments

OPR Speaks to the Impact of Proposed New CEQA Guidelines

As discussed by the California Planning and Development Report, Chris Calfee, counsel at the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research, has indicated that lead agencies will no longer be able to use General Plan congestion...more

9/17/2014 - CEQA Department of Transportation Public Projects Public Transit Urban Planning & Development

California Reacts to Losing the Tesla Battery Factory Project – Is the Lack of CEQA Reform To Blame?

An editorial published this weekend by the Los Angeles Daily News asks why California lost the Tesla battery factory to Nevada, and concludes that one of the reasons is the California Environmental Quality Act....more

9/9/2014 - CEQA CEQA Reform Tesla

Governor Changes His Mind on CEQA Reform

In published reports, Gov. Jerry Brown discussed that he has had a spiritual conversion, of sorts, on his plans for CEQA reform. He strongly telegraphed that, if he wins a second term, he will not be making a push for CEQA...more

8/19/2014 - CEQA CEQA Reform Jerry Brown

Decision: Voter-Sponsored Local Land Use Initiatives Not Subject to Environmental Review

The proposed expansion of a Wal-Mart store into a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the City of Tuolumne, Calif. yielded a California Supreme Court decision that says city councils need not comply with CEQA before adopting a...more

8/12/2014 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Environmental Policies Environmental Review Wal-Mart

California Supreme Court Rules Local Governments Are Not Required to Comply With CEQA Before Adopting a Voter-Sponsored Initiative

Opinion Clarifies When CEQA Review is Required for Local Land Use Initiatives - Local governments may adopt voter-sponsored initiatives without conducing environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental...more

8/11/2014 - CEQA Citizen Initiative Campaigns Environmental Impact Report Local Ordinance

Office of Planning and Research Issues Draft Update to State CEQA Guidelines for Analyzing Traffic Impacts

Deadline for Comments is 5 p.m. on October 10 - As mandated by 2013’s Senate Bill 743, the Office of Planning and Research has released its draft update to the State CEQA Guidelines. SB 743 requires OPR to update the...more

8/8/2014 - CEQA Environmental Policies Public Transit Traffic Laws Urban Planning & Development

California Economic Development Leaders Urge Peer Review of New CEQA Guidelines

The California Economic Summit announced this week that its leaders, such as the president of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and the president of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, have written...more

8/1/2014 - CEQA Economic Development Environmental Policies Peer Review

CEQA to Give Cities More Control Over Transit Projects

Eric Jaffe’s recent article for The Atlantic’s CityLab website: “Transit Projects Are About to Get Much, Much Easier in California” explains that “California will soon reform traffic analysis under CEQA by replacing ‘level of...more

7/16/2014 - CEQA Environmental Policies Infrastructure Public Projects

Ain't No Sunshine for the Common Interest Privilege

Life in the public sector is just that: public. With the California Public Records Act and countless local sunshine ordinances, most public employees are keenly aware that much of what they write — be it in a report, letter,...more

6/3/2014 - CEQA Common-Interest Privilege Public Employees Public Employers

Court Upholds Approvals for the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project

Trial Court Validates Agreements and Plans for Large Public-Private Water Project and Approves CEQA Review - The Orange County Superior Court last week issued rulings rejecting all six challenges to the environmental...more

5/6/2014 - CEQA Conservation Environmental Impact Report Environmental Review Public-Private Partnerships Water

Applications for Funding are Not Necessarily Projects Under CEQA - Court Clarifies Save Tara Standard

In the recently published decision in City of Irvine v. County of Orange the Court of Appeal held that the county’s approval of an application for state funding to expand a jail facility was not a project under the California...more

12/4/2013 - CEQA Entitlements Funding Public Projects

CEQA Reform: The Third Rail of California Politics - BB&K's Sarah Owsowitz Examines the Challenges of Reforming the California...

When I think about the California Environmental Quality Act, I am reminded of a line from the TV show “The West Wing,” in which a character remarked that Social Security was the “third rail” of American politics – never to be...more

9/26/2013 - CEQA Environmental Policies Legislative Agendas Proposed Legislation

Broad Reform of the California Environmental Quality Act Shelved for 2013 - Several CEQA Bills Await the Governor’s Signature

After promises of far-reaching reform in 2013, the state Legislature has instead proposed only a few tweaks to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Several CEQA-related bills were passed by the Legislature and...more

9/17/2013 - CEQA Environmental Policies Jerry Brown Proposed Legislation

Caught Between a CEQA Rock and a General Plan Hard Place

California law imposes substantial obligations on cities and counties with regard to enforcement of general plans and compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”)[i]. These dueling obligations can come...more

8/22/2013

Court of Appeal Addresses Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis Under CEQA

The Court of Appeal for the Third District issued its ruling Monday in Friends of Oroville v. City of Oroville. Finding an environmental impact report’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) analysis deficient, the court’s ruling...more

8/21/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Mitigation

Court of Appeal Rules Setting Thresholds is Not a "Project" Under CEQA - Air District’s CEQA Thresholds for Greenhouse Gases...

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal for the First District issued its ruling in California Building Industry Association v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District. In a win for public agencies, the court held that establishing...more

8/15/2013 - Air Pollution CEQA Environmental Claims Environmental Policies Greenhouse Gas Emissions Public Projects

State Supreme Court Makes Key CEQA Ruling Involving Baseline Analyses - Future Conditions Can Be Used as the Sole Baseline for...

In a victory for public agencies, the California Supreme Court today issued its much-anticipated ruling in Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (August 5, 2013). The Court held that, in...more

8/5/2013 - CEQA Environmental Claims Environmental Impact Report

Court Finds Public Interest In Meeting Renewable Energy Goals in California Outweighs Efforts To Preserve Agricultural Lands -...

In Save Panoche Valley v. San Benito County, the Sixth District Court of Appeal upheld the county’s approval of a 420-megawatt photovoltaic solar plant. The court found that the county had substantial evidence to support its...more

6/27/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Farms Renewable Energy Solar Energy Williamson Act

The Courts Drag Parking Back into the California Environmental Quality Act - BB&K's Sarah Owsowitz and Stephanie Straka Explore...

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a Californian in possession of a car must be in want of a parking space. And, of course, this space should be free, just steps from your intended destination and available 24...more

6/19/2013 - Air Pollution CEQA Environmental Review Parking Lots Traffic Laws

Court Upholds CEQA Exemption for Residential Development - Minor Project Tweaks and New Greenhouse Gas Thresholds Don’t Trigger...

In a recent case involving the California Environmental Quality Act, a state appellate court upheld a city’s decision to exempt from environmental review a residential development because it was consistent with a broader...more

4/4/2013 - CEQA Environmental Impact Report Exemptions Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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