As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, rapidly evolving economic and social changes are presenting a host of legal issues for the real estate industry. Attorneys at Perkins Coie, LLP, have published guidance on some of the more pressing issues affecting developers, landlords, tenants, and lenders. The guidance, prepared by Cecily T. Barclay, Allan E.
Automobile Delay May Not Be Treated As a Significant Environmental Impact
Automobile delay (as measured solely by roadway capacity or traffic congestion) cannot constitute a significant environmental impact, even for projects that were approved before the new CEQA guidelines on transportation impacts were certified in December 2018. Citizens for Positive Growth & Preservation v. City of Sacramento, 2019 WL 6888482.
The case involved a challenge to the City of Sacramento’s 2035 General Plan, which it adopted in March 2015. The plaintiff alleged that the city violated CEQA and the Planning and Zoning Law.
CEQA: Transportation Impacts
Analyzing Transportation Impacts Under CEQA. Public Resources Code section 21099 (commonly known as SB 743) directed the Office of Planning and Research to develop guidelines for assessing transportation impacts based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT). SB 743 provides that upon certification of implementing guidelines by the Natural Resources Agency, “automobile delay, as described solely by level of service [LOS] or similar measures of vehicular capacity or traffic congestion shall not be considered a significant impact on the environment . . . except in locations specifically identified in the guidelines, if any.”
Section 15064.3 of the CEQA Guidelines, adopted in 2018 to implement SB 743, provides that, except for roadway capacity projects, “a project’s effect on automobile delay shall not constitute a significant environmental impact.” Further, the SB 743 guidelines specify that generally, VMT is “the most appropriate measure of transportation impacts.” The guidelines apply prospectively, and apply statewide beginning July 1, 2020, unless an agency elects to be governed by them sooner. (For a detailed analysis, see our report on the SB 743 Guidelines.)…
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Conditions for Coastal Development Approvals Must Be Reasonably Tailored to Accomplish Their Intended Purpose
The Fourth District Court of Appeal held that that while most of the California Coastal Commission’s conditions for construction of a home on an oceanfront lot were reasonable, a requirement that the home be removed from the parcel “if any government agency orders it not to be occupied due to a natural hazard” was “overbroad,…
New California Law Restricts Municipalities’ Ability to Limit Housing
California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a major set of restrictions on the actions California cities and counties may take to impede housing development. Senate Bill 330 broadly aims to prevent local agencies from putting up new barriers to housing production. The legislation declares a statewide housing emergency and, on that basis, amends
Permit Amendment Unlawfully Expanded Nonconforming Use
A municipality’s approval of a permit amendment allowing a quarry to import asphalt for recycling improperly expanded the quarry’s nonconforming use, the First District Court of Appeal ruled in Point San Pedro Road Coalition v. County of Marin, 33 Cal. App. 5th 1074 (2019).
San Rafael Rock Quarry, Inc., operates a quarry in the…
29th Annual Briefing on Land Use and Development Law — Materials Available
New State Density Bonus for Student Housing Takes Effect
As of January 1, State law offers a new density bonus to qualifying student housing developments. The legislation (Senate Bill 1227) is one of several bills the Legislature has passed over the last two years to address California’s unprecedented shortage of affordable housing.
As explained by Senator Skinner, the sponsor of SB 1227, the bill…
Zoning Ordinance Adopted To Make Zoning Consistent With General Plan May Be Rejected By Referendum
The California Supreme Court has resolved a split among the courts of appeal, concluding that citizens may bring a referendum to challenge a zoning ordinance even if the referendum would temporarily leave in place zoning inconsistent with the general plan. City of Morgan Hill v. Bushey, 5 Cal.5th 1068 (2018)
Government Code Section 65860…
Administrative Mandate is the Exclusive Method for Challenging an LCP under the Coastal Act
An appellate court has held that the sole means of challenging a certified local coastal program (LCP) based on violation of the California Coastal Act is a petition for writ of administrative mandate under Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5. Beach and Bluff Conservancy v. City of Solana Beach, 28 Cal. App. 5th 244…
Development Agreements Cannot Be Adopted By Initiative
A development agreement cannot be adopted by initiative, the California court of appeal ruled in Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. City of Moreno Valley, 26 Cal. App. 5th 689 (2018).
The Development Agreement Statute
The Development Agreement Statute (Government Code sections 65864–65869.5) allows a municipal government and a property owner to enter into a contract that vests development rights by freezing the land use regulations applicable to a property. The statute includes procedural and substantive requirements for development agreements, including that “[a] development agreement is a legislative act that shall be approved by ordinance and is subject to referendum.” (Government Code section 65867.5(a).)
The project at issue in this case was a proposed logistics center in Moreno Valley. In 2015, the Moreno Valley City Council approved project entitlements, including a development agreement. Opponents then filed a CEQA lawsuit to challenge the environmental impact report for the project. A group backed by the developer responded by filing a petition for an initiative that would repeal the development agreement ordinance and approve a new development agreement. The initiative development agreement was substantially the same as the agreement the City Council approved for the project. The City Council adopted the initiative, rather than submitting it to the voters. Because voter-sponsored initiatives are not subject to CEQA, no environmental review was completed before the City Council adopted the initiative. Opponents then filed this lawsuit, asserting that a development agreement cannot be adopted by initiative.
The Court’s Decision
Based on the statutory language, statutory scheme, and legislative history, the court determined that the Development Agreement Statute did not permit adoption of a development agreement by initiative.
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