News & Analysis as of

California Supreme Court Clarifies Application Of The “Unusual Circumstances” Exception To Categorical Exemptions Under CEQA

On March 2, 2015, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, which establishes a two-part test for application of the California Environmental Quality...more

California Supreme Court’s CEQA Ruling Reaches Beyond Residential Development

On Monday March 2, the California Supreme Court handed down a decision allowing a Berkeley home builder to use an exemption from detailed environmental assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) in its...more

CA Supreme Court Provides Key CEQA Guidance Regarding Categorical Exemptions

The California Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling regarding categorical exemptions under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reversing a court of appeal decision that would have sharply curtailed the use...more

Development Trend to Circumvent CEQA Through Ballot Initiative Emphasizes Need for Reform

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that proposed football stadium developers have chosen to incur the cost of collecting signatures to qualify an initiative for the ballot to obtain land use approvals rather than face...more

California Supreme Court Upholds Most Commonly Used CEQA Categorical Exemptions

The California Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited decision in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, No. S201116 (March 2, 2015). The Court’s decision clears up some of the ambiguity that surrounded the...more

Berkeley Hillside: New Supreme Court decision defines limits of CEQA exemption challenges to development

Today, the California Supreme Court issued the highly anticipated CEQA decision: Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley. The case addresses whether the "unusual circumstances" exception to CEQA's categorical...more

CEQA Update: Three New Court of Appeal Decisions Issued; Key Supreme Court Rulings Expected (and the Sacramento Kings are on a...

2015 is shaping up to be another active year for CEQA judicial review. After taking an extended holiday break, the Courts of Appeal have recently published three decisions, two of which reinforce existing case law on how to...more

Sacramento Kings – 2, Opponents – 0: Court Rules that the Downtown Arena Satisfies Environmental Review Requirements

In Saltonstall, et al. v. City of Sacramento, No. C077772 (Cal. Ct. App. 3rd Dist., Feb. 18, 2015), the Third Appellate District affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court in holding that the City of Sacramento did not...more

Failure to Describe Project Changes Results in 180-Day Statute of Limitations for CEQA Challenge (Ventura Foothills Neighbors v....

Why it matters: When a project’s subsequent CEQA documents fail to clearly provide public notice of material changes to a project, CEQA’s short statutes of limitation may not apply....more

Third District Rejects CEQA Challenge To Program EIR For California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Statewide Fish...

In a lengthy published decision filed February 10, 2015, and addressing consolidated appeals in three related actions, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment rejecting petitioner and appellant...more

CEQA Roundup – Recent Developments

Numerous CEQA-related developments have recently been in the news. Some of possible interest include: Kings and Kern Counties, the Kings County Farm Bureau, and a number of other groups filed a petition on February 9 with the...more

CEQA Year In Review 2014: A Summary Of Published Appellate Opinions And Legislation Under CEQA

In This Issue: - When Does CEQA Apply? - Exemptions from CEQA - Negative Declarations - Environmental Impact Reports - Certified Regulatory Programs - Supplemental CEQA...more

Undisclosed Change in Building Height Requires Supplemental EIR

Ventura Foothill Neighbors v. County of Ventura (12/15/14, 2d Civil No. B254120) - The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District of California has ruled that (i) a 20% increase in the actual height of a...more

SANDAG Seeks Review of CEQA Decision Invalidating EIR for Its Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy

On January 6, 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review the decision in Cleveland National Forest Foundation, et al. v. San Diego Association at...more

San Diego MPO's Analysis Of RTP's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rejected

In a decision with implications for all transportation projects in California, the California Court of Appeal held that the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation projects in a metropolitan transportation...more

California Supreme Court Poised To Decide Key CEQA Questions: The Court’s Lineup For 2015

The California Supreme Court’s involvement in CEQA cases has been relatively limited since he statute’s enactment in 1970, with the court taking  review of at most one or two appellate court decisions a year.  The last two...more

Second District Holds Short CEQA Statute Of Limitations Not Triggered By NOD That Fails To Provide Public Notice Of Material...

On December 15, 2014, the Second District Court of Appeal (Division 6) issued a pithy published opinion affirming the Ventura County Superior Court’s judgment. The judgment granted a peremptory writ of mandate requiring...more

Project Built at Variance With EIR Subject to Late CEQA Lawsuit

Ordinarily the threat of a lawsuit under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) passes once the statute of limitation expires – in most cases 30 days after the filing of a Notice of Determination. But a recent...more

Conservation Easements Are Not Required As Mitigation For Permanent Loss Of Farmland

In Friends of the Kings River v. County of Fresno, the California Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld the County of Fresno’s adoption of an Environmental Impact Report for a mining operation that will result in a permanent...more

Real Estate and Land Use - December 2014

San Diego Regional Sustainable Strategies Plan Invalidated; SANDAG Has Requested Supreme Court Review - Cleveland National Forest Foundation et al. v. San Diego Association of Governments (November 24, 2014) Fourth...more

Fifth District Rejects CEQA Challenge to Fresno County Aggregate Mine Project EIR In Partially Published Decision, Clarifies State...

In a lengthy, 65-page opinion filed December 8, 2014 (of which fully two-thirds was unpublished), the Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed the Fresno County Superior Court’s judgment upholding the EIR, Conditional Use...more

Fourth District’s Split Decision Further Complicates CEQA Requirements Surrounding GHG Impact Analysis and Mitigation Measures –...

Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments (11/24/14, D063288) - In a split decision on November 24, 2014, the Fourth District California Court of Appeal invalidated the program EIR...more

Fourth District Publishes Another CEQA Decision Setting Aside San Diego Lead Agency’s EIR For Failure To Analyze And Mitigate GHG...

Having seen years of their lofty regional planning efforts come crashing back to Earth, San Diego government entities have had little to be thankful about so far this holiday season on the CEQA front. In an October 29...more

CEQA Alert: Court of Appeal Rules Against San Diego Agencies in Two Separate CEQA Challenges Involving Greenhouse Gas Emissions...

Two recent decisions by California’s Fourth Appellate District highlight the CEQA compliance challenges facing local governments charged with implementing state and local greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction mandates....more

Analysis Of GHGs Under CEQA Just Got More Complex: Fourth District’s Split Decision Invalidates Program EIR For SANDAG’s 2050...

In a 2-1 published opinion filed November 24, 2014, the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division 1, affirmed and modified the trial court’s judgment granting writ petitions by plaintiff groups challenging the EIR for the San...more

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