California Environmental Law and Policy Update - August 2014 #4


Environmental and Policy Focus

State Lands Commission files suit to overturn S.F.'s Prop. B - Jul 15

The State Lands Commission filed suit Tuesday to overturn San Francisco's voter-approved limits on high-rise buildings along the city's waterfront, arguing that the lands belong to the state and are managed by the Port Commission, not the city and its voters. Proposition B, which requires voter approval for any shoreline development that exceeds current height limits, passed with a 59 percent majority on June 3.

Court denies injunction sought to stop water transfers to protect fish

Oroville Mercury-Register - Jul 13

The federal District Court in Fresno denied a legal effort by Chico's AquaAlliance and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance to stop water transfers this year. The transfers under dispute in their lawsuit were a proposed package of transfers by San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority. The Bureau of Reclamation had concluded in its environmental assessment that the water transfers had no significant impact." AquaAlliance and CSPA argued that the federal environmental review was inadequate because new information was available on delta conditions specifically, that it is likely the transfers would harm smelt, a small fish that lives in the delta and is listed as threatened on the Endangered Species list. The court disagreed.

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. to shut down this month per federal order

North Bay Business Journal - Jul 11

The Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will be out of business by the end of the month under order of the federal government. The oyster farm plans on shutting down its cannery and shack in Inverness by July 31, owner Kevin Lunny said last week. The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the company's appeal at the end of June was the fatal blow for the oyster farm as it attempted to remain open in the face of a federal government order to shut down.

Treasure Island plan gets boost from state appeals court - Jul 8

A proposed residential and commercial development on San Francisco's Treasure Island has taken a step forward with a state appeals court ruling upholding the city's favorable environmental review of the $1.5 billion project and rejecting opponents' claims that it was vague about the design plan's cleanup of toxic substances. City supervisors approved construction on the former Navy base and adjoining Yerba Buena Island in 2011. The project, scheduled to take 15 to 20 years, includes up to 8,000 homes, 25 percent of them classified as below-market affordable housing, along with commercial and office buildings, 500 hotel rooms, a ferry terminal, and 300 acres of parks, playgrounds and open space.

Vernon battery recycler is allowed to reopen, with conditions

Los Angeles Times - Jul 10

Air quality officials are giving a battery recycling plant in Vernon another chance to prove it can operate without putting nearby residents at risk. Despite demands from community groups calling for permanent closure of the Exide Technologies plant, the region's air quality hearing board approved an agreement that would allow the idled facility to reopen, but only after it installs equipment to control arsenic emissions and takes steps to keep lead-contaminated dust from being released during the upgrades. Exide executives said they expect to finish construction by the end of the year.

California drought will cost $2.2 billion in agriculture losses this year

Wall Street Journal - Jul 15

California's drought will cost the state $2.2 billion this year in losses and added expenses for its giant agriculture industry, while cutting 17,100, or 3.8%, of the state's farm jobs, according to a report released Tuesday. Also, Tuesday the State Water Resources Control Board approved a proposal to expand the mandatory water cutbacks in some cities to all residents statewide. Penalties up to $500 will be imposed for violations, such as allowing lawn sprinkler water to run into the street and washing cars without hoses equipped with a shut-off nozzle.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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