Decision to Deny a Zoning Change Subject to 90-Day Statute of Limitation

An action challenging a legislative body’s decision to deny a zone change is subject to a 90-day limitation period set forth in section 65009(c) of the California Planning and Zoning Law (Cal. Gov. Code §§ 65000 et seq.). In June, 2009, General Development Co., L.P., filed for a zone change on property in the City of Santa Maria (the City). On February 16, 2010, the City Council denied the application. The developer challenged the City Council’s action 97 days after the City Council’s denial. The trial court ruled that the developer’s challenge was time-barred by section 65009(c)(1)(B) of the Government Code, which requires an action or proceeding “to attack, review, set aside, void, or annul [a] decision . . . to adopt or amend a zoning ordinance” to be filed and served within 90 days of such decision. The Court of Appeal agreed.

General Development argued in its appeal that denial of a rezoning application was not a “decision” because City did not “adopt or amend a zoning ordinance” within the meaning of section 65009. It claimed that the 90-day limitation period applied only to a “decision” granting a zone change, not “decisions” denying a zone change, and asserted that a three-year statute of limitation should apply.

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