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California Land Use & Development Law Report Legal Commentary on Planning and Development

Category Archives: Planning and Zoning

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Santa Cruz Becomes First County to Ban Fracking

Posted in Environmental Regulation, Land Use, Planning and Zoning

Santa Cruz County has become the first California county to permanently ban the controversial oil and gas drilling technique known as fracking. By a 5-0 vote, the Board of Supervisors this week amended its General Plan to prohibit all facilities for oil and gas exploration and development within the unincorporated County. The ban replaces a… Continue Reading

Spot Zoning For Senior Housing Project Upheld

Posted in Land Use, Planning and Zoning

“Spot-zoning” refers to the discriminatory zoning of a small parcel that is surrounded by land within a different zone. Some had thought the doctrine only applies where a small parcel is zoned more restrictively than the property surrounding it. But in the recently decided case of Foothill Communities Coalition v. County of Orange, the court… Continue Reading

Court Rejects Claim That New General Plan Housing Element Requires New EIR

Posted in CEQA, Planning and Zoning

Affordable housing advocates have lost a claim that Napa’s new General Plan Housing Element required a new environmental impact report.  Latinos Unidos de Napa v. City of Napa, No. A134959 (1st Dist., Oct. 10, 2013, publication ordered Nov. 5, 2013).  The court upheld the city’s decision that its 2009 Housing Element was not a new… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Clarifies Standards For Housing Discrimination Claims

Posted in Planning and Zoning, Real Estate

Can a city protect itself from discriminatory zoning claims by adopting a facially neutral ordinance that treats similarly situated land uses the same? Apparently not, said the Ninth Circuit in Pacific Shores Properties v. City of Newport Beach (Case No. 11-55460), decided on September 20. In a challenge brought against a City of Newport Beach zoning… Continue Reading

Even After Winning Housing Accountability Act Suit, Developer Denied Attorney Fees

Posted in Land Use, Planning and Zoning

The California Housing Accountability Act — commonly known as the “Anti-NIMBY” statute — restricts a local agency’s ability to disapprove, or require reduced densities in, certain residential projects.  Although the statute provides for attorney fee awards, a recent court of appeal decision shows there is no guarantee a pot of attorney fees will always be… Continue Reading

City Council’s Interpretation of General Plan Prevails Despite Conflict With Plan’s Land Use Map

Posted in Land Use, Planning and Zoning

A city council has sweeping authority to interpret the city’s general plan.  That authority trumped a successful referendum campaign designed to block a residential development project, according to the court’s decision  in Orange Citizens for Parks and Recreation v. Superior Court, Case No. G047013 (4th App. Dist., July 10, 2013).  The court held that the city didn’t need… Continue Reading

Coastal Commission May Not Review City Nuisance Abatement Ordinance Passed In Good Faith

Posted in Land Use, Planning and Zoning

The California Coastal Commission lacks jurisdiction to review a city’s adoption of a nuisance ordinance because a municipality’s enactment of an ordinance is not an appealable action.  However, the city must demonstrate that it exercised its nuisance abatement power, pursuant to Coastal Act section 30005(b), in good faith, and not as a pretext for avoiding its… Continue Reading

County Could Not Make Density Bonus Conditional Upon Compliance With Local Affordable Housing Requirements

Posted in Exactions and Assessments, Land Use, Planning and Zoning

A local agency may not condition the availability of a density bonus upon provision of more affordable housing than the minimum required under the State Density Bonus Law.  Latinos Unidos Del Valle De Napa Y Solano v. County of Napa, No. A135094 (First District, July 11, 2013).  California’s Density Bonus Law, Government Code § 65915,… Continue Reading

CEQA Modernization? Not really.

Posted in CEQA, Planning and Zoning

Steve Kostka, Julie Jones and Barbara Schussman The eagerly-awaited amendments to SB 731, the “CEQA Modernization Bill” have surfaced.    The initial iteration of this bill was a placeholder which outlined topics that would be included in later amendments.   As amended on April 23, the bill addresses many of the issues presaged by the initial version,… Continue Reading

90-Day Limitations Period Under Government Code § 65009 Applies to Zoning Administrator Decisions.

Posted in Land Use, Planning and Zoning

Round two of a citizen group’s challenge to approval of a WalMart ended with a decisive knock-out by the City of Stockton.  The appellate court ruled that the petitioners’ planning and zoning law claims were barred by the 90-day statute of limitations in Government Code § 65009, rejecting petitioners’ argument that the statute did not… Continue Reading

City Has Time to Make General Plan Consistent with Housing Element Revisions

Posted in Planning and Zoning

A court of appeal has confirmed that after a city updates its general plan housing element, the city has additional time to amend other general plan elements to restore the general plan’s internal consistency—as long as the city adopts a timeline for making the necessary amendments. Every five years, a city must update its general… Continue Reading

No Harm, No Foul—Petitioners Claiming Procedural Errors Must Prove Prejudice

Posted in Planning and Zoning

It’s not enough that litigants challenging planning and zoning actions prove that the city or county committed a procedural error.  They also have to show the error was prejudicial, that it led to substantial injury, and that if the error had not occurred, a different result would have been likely. In Rialto Citizens for Responsible… Continue Reading

Island Annexations: Unanswered Questions

Posted in Planning and Zoning

Those interested in the ins and outs of LAFCO law reacted excitedly to the news that the Attorney General was poised to issue an opinion on a perplexing question – when is an area of unincorporated land an “island” for purposes of annexation to a city under the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Act? The Attorney General… Continue Reading

Plan Bay Area: The Regional Plan for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions – The EIR is Underway

Posted in CEQA, Climate Change, Planning and Zoning

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the transportation planning agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, and the Association of Bay Area Governments have announced that they are going to prepare an Environmental Impact Report to evaluate the agencies’ proposed plan to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light duty trucks.  On June 11, the… Continue Reading

Court Invalidates San Jose Affordable Housing Ordinance

Posted in Exactions and Assessments, Planning and Zoning

The California Building Industry Association scored a major victory recently when a San Jose judge threw out the city’s requirement that residential developers sell or rent a specified portion of newly-built homes to lower-income households. The court ruled the city had not shown a reasonable linkage between the impact of new development and the need for affordable… Continue Reading

Sequential Lot Line Adjustments Get The Green Light.

Posted in Planning and Zoning, Subdivision Map Act

Lot line adjustments offer a streamlined alternative to the complex process of subdividing land.  However, lot line adjustments have historically been  limited to four or fewer adjoining parcels.  In a decision that may significantly expand use of lot line adjustments, the court of appeal in Sierra Club v. Napa County Board of Supervisors upheld a local… Continue Reading

An Unnecessary Statutory Duel

Posted in Planning and Zoning

Navigating the hazardous shoals of writ practice, attorneys often face the question whether a request for preparation of the record extends the very short, 90-day period to file a petition for writ of mandate. Both the Administrative Procedure Act and Code of Civil Procedure § 1094.6 state that a request for the record extends the… Continue Reading

Granted or Denied — It’s Still a 90-Day Limitations Period

Posted in Planning and Zoning

Does a 90-day deadline for filing of suits challenging a decision “to adopt or amend a zoning ordinance” apply to a decision to deny a zoning amendment?  Of course, said the appellate court in General Development Co., L.P. v. City of Santa Maria, 202 Cal.App.4th 1391 (2012). Government Code section 65009(c)(1) establishes a 90-day statute… Continue Reading