Category: Environmental and Land Use Litigation

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Applicant Challenging Denial of Use Permit Must Prove It Is Legally Entitled to Permit

In an unsurprising decision, the Second District Court of Appeal upheld Ventura County’s decision to a deny a use permit that would allow tigers to be kept on property located within a half-mile of a residential area. Hauser v. Ventura County Board of Supervisors, 20 Cal.App.5th 572 (2018). Background. Plaintiff Irena Hauser applied for a … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Decision on Power Plant Licensing May Open Door to Expanded Judicial Review of Licensing Decisions

In Communities for a Better Environment v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, 19 Cal. App. 5th 725 (2017), the First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s conclusion that a challenge to the constitutionality of California’s process for judicial review of decisions of the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy … Continue Reading

Homeowners Association Land Use Approval Process Is Protected Activity Under Anti-SLAPP Statute

The California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District has determined that the actions of a homeowners association undertaken in accordance with its land use approval process are protected activities in furtherance of free speech under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. Golden Eagle Land Investment, L.P. v. Rancho Santa Fe Association, 19 Cal. App. 5th 399 (2018) … Continue Reading

Attorneys’ Fees Can Be Awarded to CEQA Litigants Hoping to Preserve Their Home Values

Successful petitioners under CEQA who are motivated to file suit, in part, by their private financial interests are not necessarily ineligible for an award of attorneys’ fees under the public interest fee statute. Heron Bay Homeowners Association v. City of San Leandro, 19 Cal. App. 5th 376 (2018). Halus Power Systems sought approval from the … Continue Reading

Court May Order Partial Decertification and Leave Approvals in Place After Finding EIR Legally Inadequate

In Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 17 Cal. App.5th 1245 (2017) the court of appeal held a court order that requires partial decertification of an Environmental Impact Report and leaves some project approvals in place is a legally permissible remedy when an EIR has been found legally … Continue Reading

Petitioner’s Failure to Comply With Discovery Regarding its Standing to Sue Results in Dismissal of CEQA Case

A CEQA case challenging the City of Wildomar’s approval of a Wal-Mart retail complex has been dismissed because the petitioner refused to comply with discovery requests regarding its standing to sue.  Creed-21 v. City of Wildomar, 4th Dist. Court of Appeal Case No.E066367 (pub. order 12/19/2017). CEQA cases generally are decided on the administrative record … Continue Reading

Court May Seek Clarification from Agency Regarding Issue in Pending Litigation

The Sixth District Court of Appeal held that a trial court in a mandamus action had the inherent power to remand to the Board of Supervisors for clarification regarding an ambiguous general plan consistency finding. The Highway 68 Coalition v. Co. of Monterey, No. H042891 (6th Dist., Aug. 24, 2017) The case involved a petition … Continue Reading

Property Owner Who Proceeds With Development Under a Permit Cannot Challenge Land-Use Conditions Attached to the Permit

The California Supreme Court has ruled that a landowner who accepts the benefits of a permit by constructing the project forfeits the right to challenge land-use conditions imposed on the project. Lynch v. California Coastal Commission (Calif. Supreme Court, No. S221980, July 6, 2017). Factual Background After storms damaged a seawall and stairway structure beneath … Continue Reading

Action to Invalidate Building Permit Barred by Failure to File Timely Challenge to Underlying Site Development Permit

In Citizens for Beach Rights v. City of San Diego, 10 Cal.App.5th 1301 (2017), the court of appeal held that a challenge to issuance of a building permit necessarily included a challenge to the validity of the underlying site development permit, which was barred by the 90-day statute of limitations in Government Code section 65009. … Continue Reading

Attorney Neglect Not Grounds For Relief From Summary Judgment For Failure to Lodge Administrative Record

A party against whom summary judgment is entered as a result of attorney neglect may not seek relief under a statute that provides relief from a default judgment or dismissal resulting from attorney neglect. The Urban Wildlands Group, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 10 Cal. App. 5th 993 (2017). The plaintiff challenged the City … Continue Reading

An Attorney Fee Award Is Not Available To A Project Proponent That Successfully Defends A Challenge To Project Approvals Unless The Lawsuit Was Detrimental To The Public Interest.

A project sponsor can successfully defend an action brought to challenge a permit for its project, and satisfy the standards in Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 for an award of attorneys’ fees, but still have its fee claim rejected, if the court concludes the aim of the lawsuit was to protect, rather than curtail, … Continue Reading
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