Environmental and Land Use Litigation

A City municipal transit agency did not violate equal protection, substantive due process or state anti-age discrimination laws when it disfavored some taxi cab medallion holders from accessing lucrative airport pickups because, among other things, the law was rationally related to legitimate government interests. San Francisco Taxi Coal. v. City & Cty. of San Francisco

The Court of Appeal held that an agreement obligating a developer and city to indemnify LAFCO against claims arising from its annexation decision lacked consideration because the agreement simply required LAFCO to do what it was already obligated to do by statute. San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission v. City of Pismo Beach,

The Court of Appeal held that a landowner’s petition for “exclusion” under the Subdivision Map Act seeking orders declaring a parcel map void and restoring the historical lot lines was barred under the doctrine of laches. Decea v. City. of Ventura, 59 Cal. App. 5th 1097 (2021).

Decea bought a house in the Lake

An agency must prepare an environmental impact statement when it fails to address expert scientific evidence that undermines its conclusions about a project’s environmental effects. An agency also must prepare an EIS when there are substantial questions about whether a project will have a cumulatively significant impact. Bark v. U.S. Forest Service, 958 F.3d

A private landowner prevailed over a community association’s efforts to obtain a public recreational easement over trails because substantial evidence showed the landowner took bona fide steps to deter unauthorized users on the trails. Tiburon-Belvedere Residents United to Support the Trails v. Martha Company, No. A157073 (1st Dist., Oct. 23, 2020).

Before 1972, when

The Sixth District Court of Appeal held that a medical marijuana dispensary could recover its marijuana plants seized by law enforcement, finding that violation of the ordinance did not render medical marijuana plants “contraband” per se and subject to seizure.  Granny Purps, Inc. v County of Santa Cruz, 53 Cal.App.5th 1 (2020).

Under established caselaw,

The Third Appellate District held that the State Water Resources Control Board has the authority to issue temporary emergency regulations and curtailment orders which establish minimum flow requirements, regulate unreasonable use of water, and protect threatened fish species during drought conditions. Stanford Vina Ranch Irrigation Co. v. State of California, No. C085762 (3rd Dist., June 18, 2020)

During California’s severe drought period in 2014 and 2015, the State Water Board adopted emergency regulations and curtailment orders on three tributaries of the Sacramento River, including Deer Creek in Tehama County. The regulations were established pursuant to urgency legislation authorizing the State Water Board “to prevent the waste, unreasonable use, unreasonable method of use, or unreasonable method of diversion of water,” or “to require curtailment of diversions. . . .” Wat. Code, §1058.5. The regulations issued by the Water Board limited the diversion of water from Deer Creek for certain periods in order to maintain the required flow of water and protect Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, two threatened species affected by the drought during their migratory cycles.

Petitioner, a non-profit irrigation company that operates diversion dams and ditches for agricultural use in Deer Creek, filed suit challenging the regulations. Petitioner noted that it was entitled by a 1923 judicial decree to use roughly 66 percent of the flow of Deer Creek and argued that the Water Board was required to hold an evidentiary hearing before issuing and implementing the regulations. It further argued that the regulations resulted in a taking of its vested water rights and that the Water Board did not comply with due process under the federal and California constitutions.

The appellate court first found that the Water Board’s statutory authority under the urgency legislation was constitutionally valid and that the temporary emergency regulations were consistent with article X, section 2 of the California Constitution, which ordains conservation of water resources. The court also concluded that adoption of the regulations was not arbitrary, capricious, or lacking in evidentiary support.
Continue Reading State Water Board Has Authority to Implement Temporary Emergency Regulations Curtailing Water Diversions Without Prior Evidentiary Hearing

The court of appeal held that the City’s approval of mixed-used development projects was not an “artificial, arbitrary, or unnecessary barrier[]” to fair housing necessary to support disparate-impact claims under the FHA and FEHA.  AIDS Healthcare Foundation v. City of Los Angeles, No. B303308 (2nd Dist., June 15, 2020).

The City of Los Angeles

Nicholas Honchariw’s battles with the County of Stanislaus over his 9-lot subdivision have now resulted in a fourth published appellate decision. (See our prior reports, County Violates California’s Anti-NIMBY Law by Rejecting Housing Project With No Affordable Units; No Affordable Housing, No Attorney’s Fees Under Housing Accountability Act; and If At First You