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

The Court of Appeal held that where a city councilmember’s actions evinced bias toward the project, the applicant did not receive a fair hearing and the City Council’s denial of a conditional use permit would be set aside. Petrovich Development Co. v. City of Sacramento, No. C087283 (3rd Dist., May 8, 2020).

Petrovich applied

A court of appeal upheld the City of Madera’s interpretation of a municipal code provision requiring “a five-sevenths vote of the whole of the [City] Council” as mandating the approval of five councilmembers, rather than a five-sevenths vote of the councilmembers voting on the matter. Lateef v. City of Madera, No. F076227 (5th Dist., Feb. 14, 2020).

Plaintiff appealed to the City Council after his application for a conditional use permit to sell alcohol at a convenience store was denied by the Planning Commission. The City has a seven-member City Council. At the time of the hearing on plaintiff’s application, one council seat was vacant, and one councilmember recused himself from voting.  Thus, only five councilmembers were present and eligible to vote. The City Council voted four to one to overturn the Planning Commission’s decision. The City Clerk initially announced that the motion had passed, but the City ultimately determined that the motion failed to meet the requirement in Municipal Code that “four-fifths vote of the whole of the Council shall be required to grant, in whole or in part, any appealed application denied by the Commission.”

Plaintiff filed suit, arguing (1) the City was required to grant his appeal because the Municipal Code requires a five-sevenths vote of the councilmembers present and voting, and (2) he was denied a fair trial because the recused councilmember and vacant seat were improperly included in counting the number of votes needed to grant his appeal.
Continue Reading “Whole of the Council” Meant All City Councilmembers, Not Just Those Present and Voting

San Francisco voters have approved a Vacancy Tax Ordinance, which imposes a tax assessment on vacant commercial space beginning January 1, 2021. The tax applies to any commercial space that is “unoccupied, uninhabited, or unused for more than 182 days whether consecutive or non-consecutive in a tax year.” The tax is intended to help reinvigorate

A Riverside County zoning ordinance that removed religious assemblies as a permissible use in a particular zone did not violate the equal terms provision of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person’s Act (RLUIPA) because it prohibited both religious and secular institutions alike from staging events without charging a fee. Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v.

Effective January 20, 2020, eviction controls under the San Francisco Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance (Administrative Code Chapter 37) (the “Rent Ordinance”) apply to any residential units constructed after June 13, 1979, and any residential units that have undergone substantial rehabilitation.

The rent limitations and the eviction controls enumerated in the Rent Ordinance previously applied only to apartment buildings with a certificate of occupancy issued before June 13, 1979.  Under San Francisco Ordinance No. 296-19 (the “Haney Amendment”), the “just cause” eviction provisions in the Rent Ordinance now apply to all apartment buildings.

Part of the rationale for the Haney Amendment is to reconcile the eviction controls in the Rent Ordinance with the California Tenant Protection Act, which established statewide rent caps and eviction controls for most residential properties built before 2005. The Tenant Protection Act does not supersede local rent control or eviction protections, so long as the local ordinance is more protective. (For more information about the details of the intricacies of the Tenant Protection Act, see our previous update.)

The Haney Amendment found that the Rent Ordinance is more protective than the Tenant Protection Act because it provides more limited reasons for evicting tenants as well as higher relocation assistance and other tenant protections.  Under the Haney Amendment, landlords will now be required to pay relocation fees due under the Rent Ordinance, follow the buyout procedures specified under the Rent Ordinance, and comply with the Rent Ordinance regulations on capital improvements. Except for the rent limitations prescribed under the Rent Ordinance, all provisions of the Rent Ordinance now apply to apartment buildings built after 1979.
Continue Reading San Francisco Expands Just Cause Eviction Protections

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.)
Continue Reading Automobile Delay May Not Be Treated As a Significant Environmental Impact

A court could properly direct a city council to correct internal inconsistencies in its general plan resulting from adoption of an initiative.  Denham, LLC v. City of Richmond, 41 Cal. App. 5th 340 (2019).

The Richmond City Council adopted an initiative, approved by 10 % of the City’s voters, without alteration in accordance with Elections

The City of Sacramento did not violate constitutional law or implied-in-law zoning contract when it approved a project with characteristics that deviated from the City’s zoning ordinance. Sacramentans for Fair Planning v. City of Sacramento, 37 Cal. App. 5th 698 (2019)

A developer sought approval to build a high-rise tower in Midtown Sacramento. The City’s

The statewide concerns underlying the affordable housing provisions of the Surplus Lands Act superseded municipal home rule authority on the same subject and hence required charter cities to comply with the affordable housing provisions of the Act. Anderson v. City of San José, 42 Cal.App.5th 683 (2019).

This case addressed whether state constitutional authority