Monthly Archives: June 2012

CEQA and EIR Adequacy: The Latest Words on Public Services Impacts and Adaptive Mitigation Programs

Two important, recurring CEQA questions are answered by a recent court of appeal decision in a case involving the EIR for a California State University campus master plan: whether CEQA requires funding of mitigation for a project’s effects on public services; and whether an adaptive mitigation program for traffic and parking impacts improperly defers decisions about mitigation. … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Upholds Statewide Climate Change Scoping Plan

The court of appeal in San Francisco has upheld the Climate Change Scoping Plan adopted by the Air Resources Board in December 2008.  In its June 19th decision in Association of Irritated Residents v. California Air Resources Board, the court rejected claims by environmental groups that the Plan violated the Global Warming Solutions Act of … Continue Reading

New South Coast Air District Rules Withstand Manufacturer’s Second CEQA Challenge

A court of appeal has upheld the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s second attempt to adopt a rule imposing strict limits on paint thinners and solvents.  The court rejected a manufacturer’s claim that CEQA required the District to study alternatives and mitigation measures before adopting the new regulations.  W.M. Barr & Co. v. South … Continue Reading

Island Annexations: Unanswered Questions

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

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

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace — Issue Exhaustion Applies to CEQA Exemptions.

The California Supreme Court has issued a landmark decision holding that the exhaustion doctrine – which requires parties to raise their claims at the administrative level before litigating them in court — applies to challenges to an agency decision that a project is exempt from CEQA.  Overturning a 15-year-old precedent, the court ruled that if the decision-making … Continue Reading

The Wetlands Debate Intensifies As House Republicans Question Two Upcoming EPA Studies

In a recent post [“When is a Wetland a Wetland — and How Do We Find Out?“] we described the significant uncertainties in ascertaining the reach of the Clean Water Act over wetlands, ponds, drainage ditches and other small aquatic features only remotely connected to navigable waterways such as rivers and lakes.  On June 12, the debate … Continue Reading

To Consult or Not To Consult – That Is the Question for the Ninth Circuit

The Ninth Circuit is at center stage again in the debate over the interpretation and enforcement of federal environmental laws. In a sharply divided 7-4 en banc decision, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the U.S. Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by allowing recreational gold mining activities in the Klamath National Forest in … Continue Reading

Court Invalidates San Jose Affordable Housing Ordinance

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

The 2012 Edition Curtin’s California Land Use and Planning Law Available Soon!

For over three decades, Curtin’s California Land Use & Planning Law has provided a succinct and definitive summary of the major provisions of California’s land use and planning laws. Curtin’s has been cited by the California Supreme Court and numerous appellate courts as an authoritative source. Co‐authored by Cecily Talbert Barclay, Matthew Gray and other … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Decide Scope of Categorical Exemptions from CEQA

In what is perhaps the most controversial CEQA decision this year, the court of appeal in Berkeley Hillside Preservation invalidated permits for construction of a single-family home, ruling that the project did not qualify under CEQA’s categorical exemption for construction of a single-family residence or its categorical exemption for infill development.  The California Supreme Court has now decided to … Continue Reading

Coastal Commission Steps Over the Line By Imposing Local Coastal Plan Amendment

In a jurisdictional dispute pitting the City of Malibu against a state conservancy and the California Coastal Commission, the court of appeal ruled the Commission lacked authority to disregard the city’s objections to an amendment to its Local Coastal Program.  While the Commission has the power to override a local agency’s objections to LCP amendments  … Continue Reading

How Far Will USFWS Expand Incentives for Voluntary Conservation Actions Under the Endangered Species Act?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tries to encourage landowners to take voluntary steps to benefit species that might become threatened or endangered.  The hope is that the landowners’ conservation actions will prevent the species from declining to the point that listing is required.  But as USFWS has recognized, the beneficial actions of one or … Continue Reading

Are We Ever Getting a Redevelopment Clean-Up Bill?

As the behemoth redevelopment dissolution bill, ABx1-26, lurched toward final passage last June, legislator after legislator reassured local governments that the bill’s rough edges would be planed in no time with clean-up legislation. Almost a year later, municipalities are still waiting. The leading bill, AB 1585 (Perez) – which would preserve affordable housing funds and … Continue Reading

State University’s Duty to Mitigate Transportation Impacts to be Considered by Supreme Court

In City of San Diego v  Board of Trustees of the California State University, the court of appeal overturned the EIR for the San Diego State University campus expansion plan, ruling that it did not adequately address transportation impacts and mitigation measures for those impacts.  In a decision issued on December 13, the court rejected the … Continue Reading

Sequential Lot Line Adjustments Get The Green Light.

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

Appendix G of CEQA Guidelines Cannot Require Analysis of Effects of Environment on Project

Provisions of Appendix G of the CEQA Guidelines that purport to require analysis of the effects of environmental hazards on a proposed project have been declared invalid by California’s Second District Court of Appeal.  The court held that such impacts are not encompassed by CEQA, rejecting a claim that an Environmental Impact Report was required to evaluate the impacts of potential … Continue Reading

Redevelopment Assets Ordered Returned by State Controller

Last year’s bill eliminating redevelopment agencies, AB x1-26,  has created massive headaches for successor agencies as they attempt to unwind years of complex financial transactions. For many of them, the headache just got worse.  On April 20, the State Controller issued an unconditional order that all assets transferred from a redevelopment agency to any other … Continue Reading