The court of appeal found that the California Coastal Commission erred by approving a coastal development permit for a residential development before environmental review for the project had been completed. Friends, Artists and Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough v. California Coastal Commission, 2021 WL 5905714 (No. H048088, 6th Dist., December 14, 2021).

The Commission’s staff

The Court of Appeal held that a CEQA challenge to a decision approving removal of trees adjacent to PG&E gas pipelines was time-barred because an agreement to toll the statute of limitations did not include PG&E, which was an indispensable party in the proceedings, and the suit was filed after the applicable 180-day limitations period

Plaintiff’s Brown Act claims were barred because unreasonable delay in prosecuting the lawsuit substantially prejudiced parties and the general public. Julian Volunteer Fire Company Association v. Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District, No. D076639 (4th Dist., March 30, 2021).

The Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District requested the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission to dissolve the District and

The State Lands Commission was not required to assume the role of lead agency and prepare a subsequent EIR for changes to a desalinization plant for which an EIR had already been certified by the City of Huntington Beach as lead agency.  California Coastkeeper Alliance v State Lands Commission, 64 Cal. App. 5th 36

Multiple applications for a development project are not required where the first permit denial makes clear that no development of the property would be allowed under any circumstance. Felkay v. City of Santa Barbara, No. B304964 (2nd Dist., March 18, 2021).

Felkay purchased an ocean-front lot with the intention of building a residence. The

Where a county ordinance allowed for exercise of discretion in some circumstances regarding issuance of well construction permits, such permits could not categorically be classified as ministerial and hence exempt from CEQA review. Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources v County of Stanislaus, 10 Cal.5th 470 (2020).

Stanislaus County adopted an ordinance which categorically

The court of appeal held that plaintiffs’ inverse condemnation and damages claims based on dredging in the bay adjacent to their properties was barred under the doctrine of res judicata based on a 1931 judgment conclusively establishing that the property alleged to have been taken or damaged was not owned by plaintiffs. SLPR, LLC v.

The City of Lafayette violated the Brown Act by not including a litigation threat discussed in closed session in the agenda packet made publicly available before the meeting, but plaintiffs failed to show any prejudice resulting from the violation. Fowler v. City of Lafayette, 46 Cal. App. 5th 360 (2020).

Homeowners sought approval from the City build a cabaña near a tennis court on their property. Plaintiff neighbors appealed the Planning Commission’s approval to the City Council. During consideration of the appeal, the homeowner’s attorney threatened to sue the City if it denied the project. The City Attorney notified the City Council of the litigation threat orally in a closed session. The threat was not noted in the agenda for any of the public meetings, and there was no mention of it in the information packets made available to the public before the meetings. At its final public meeting, the City Council denied the appeal and upheld the Planning Commission’s approval of the application.

Plaintiffs sued, contending that the City violated the Brown Act by discussing the application in closed hearings, and that plaintiffs were deprived of their right to a fair hearing.

Brown Act Violation

Plaintiffs claimed the City violated the Brown Act by failing to announce or make available for public inspection the litigation threat that served as the basis for closed session discussions. The City argued it was not required to include the litigation threat in the pre-meeting agenda packet because the threat was not distributed in written form to the City Council. The court of appeal rejected this argument, stating that under the Act, the record of a litigation threat to be discussed in closed session must be reduced to writing and included in the agenda packet made available upon request before a meeting. Therefore, the City violated the Brown Act.
Continue Reading Brown Act Violation Did Not Require Nullification of Project Approval Where No Prejudice Was Shown