On January 26, 2021, attorneys from Perkins Coie presented the 31st Annual Land Use and Development Law Briefing. Topics included:

    • Key Developments in Land Use Law
    • Legislative Changes Affecting Housing Development
    • CEQA: Key Cases and Trends
    • COVID 19 — Real Estate Impacts
    • Wetlands, Endangered Species and NEPA Update

A full set of the written materials,

The Court of Appeal upheld a Coastal Commission cease-and-desist order requiring demolition of a seawall and payment of a $1 million penalty by homeowners who performed major reconstruction on their coastal home without notifying the Coastal Commission. 11 Lagunita, LLC v. California Coastal Commission, No. G058436 (4th Dist., Dec. 18, 2020).

In 2015, the

A court of appeal held that a plaintiff did not have public interest standing to sue Coastal Commissioners for violating disclosure obligations concerning ex parte communications because the lawsuit was not brought as a mandamus action. Spotlight on Coastal Corruption v. Kinsey, No. D074673 (4th Dist., Nov. 24, 2020).

The California Coastal Act allows

The court of appeal held that a vesting tentative map covering property within the Coastal Zone gave the developer the vested right to proceed with the project notwithstanding subsequent changes in local laws. While the project’s location in the Coastal Zone rendered it subject to Coastal Commission jurisdiction, this did not impair the enforceability of

The Third Appellate District determined that Placer County met relevant statutory requirements when it partially abandoned public easement rights in a road originally intended to be used only for emergency access and public transit vehicles that residents of the area had been using as an unauthorized short cut between two neighboring residential subdivisions. Martis Camp Community Association v County of Placer, No. C087759 (Third. Dist., Aug 1, 2020).

Background.

The road at the center of the dispute connects Martis Camp, a private gated community adjacent to the Northstar ski resort development, and the Retreat at Northstar, a residential development next to Martis Camp located within the Northstar resort itself.

In 2003, Placer County adopted the Martis Valley Community Plan, which provided that a road connecting Martis Camp and the Retreat would be restricted to public transit and emergency access only. The EIRs for the Martis Camp and Retreat developments, approved two years later, also envisioned that the road would be restricted to these uses. Despite these restrictions, several years after the road was constructed, Martis Camp residents began using it as a short cut through the Retreat community to Northstar village.

By 2014, from 100 to 250 private vehicles were using the road on a daily basis, and it was estimated that once Martis Camp was built out, traffic could triple.  After various efforts to stop the unauthorized use of the road failed, Retreat property owners requested that the County abandon public road easement rights in the road.  Following a series of public hearings, the Board of Supervisors approved a partial abandonment, thereby restricting use of the road to Retreat property owners and emergency and public transit vehicles only, consistent with the uses described and analyzed in the Community Plan and the EIRs for the two developments.

The Martis Camp homeowners’ association and some individual property owners (the “Martis Camp homeowners”) filed suit to challenge the County’s action, claiming it violated the statutory requirements for abandonment of a public road; that it impaired their abutter’s rights to access the road giving rise to an inverse condemnation claim; and that the Board  had violated both the Brown Act and CEQA when it approved the abandonment.  The trial court ruled for the County on each of these claims and the Martis Camp homeowners appealed.

The Court of Appeal’s Decision

Abandonment of a Public Road.   The court of appeal rejected the Martis Camp homeowners’ claim that the County’s decision violated the statutory requirements for the abandonment of a public road, explaining that under the Streets and Highways Code, a county is authorized to vacate all or part of a street, highway, or public service easement where it makes two findings — first, that the road is unnecessary for present or prospective public use, and second, that the abandonment is in the public interest.
Continue Reading County May Abandon Public Easement Rights to Prevent Unauthorized Use of Road

The City of San Diego was not required to obtain a coastal development permit for a transitional housing project because the Coastal Commission had certified the City’s local coastal program, whose provisions therefore applied in lieu of the Commission’s regulations. Citizens for South Bay Coastal Access v. City of San Diego, 45 Cal. App.

The court of appeal rejected a claim that a Coastal Development Permit should be invalidated because it was based on intentional misrepresentations, finding that even if accurate and complete information had been submitted, this would not have caused the Coastal Commission to deny the application or require additional or different conditions. Hubbard v. California Coastal

A California Court of Appeal upheld denial of a petition by vintners challenging the prohibition on new vineyards within the Santa Monica Mountains Coastal Zone in deference to the California Coastal Commission’s finding that viticulture adversely impacts sensitive habitats, water quality, water supply, and scenic resources. Mountainlands Conservancy, LLC v. California Coastal Commission, No.