Category: Planning and Zoning

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Award of Attorney’s Fees Warranted Where Plaintiff Lost on Most Claims But Achieved Primary Litigation Objective

A plaintiff challenging a city council’s interpretation of a local ballot measure was entitled to recover costs and attorney fees when successful on only one cause of action because the primary relief sought was granted. Friends of Spring Street v. Nevada City, 33 Cal.App.5th 1092 (2019). In 1991, the Kendalls received a Conditional Use Permit … Continue Reading

Possibility of Further Applications for New Charter Schools Did Not Constitute “Current and Immediate Threat” Warranting Adoption of Urgency Ordinance Imposing Moratorium on Processing Such Applications.

The court of appeal held that an urgency ordinance enacted to impose a temporary moratorium on the establishment and operation of new charter schools in Huntington Park was invalid. California Charter Schools Association v. City of Huntington Park, et al., 35 Cal. App. 5th 362 (2019). The court reasoned that “numerous inquiries and requests for … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Upholds Validity of Local Aesthetic Regulation of Telecommunications Infrastructure

Local governments may require a permit conditioned on compatibility with aesthetic standards to install and maintain wireless communications infrastructure in the public right-of-way, the California Supreme Court held in T-Mobile West LLC v. City and County of San Francisco, No. S238001 (April 4, 2019). The court rejected a facial challenge brought by telecommunications companies to … Continue Reading

A Resolution to Dissolve a Fire District is Not Subject to Referendum

The court of appeal held that a fire district’s resolution to dissolve the district was not a legislative act subject to voter referendum. Southcott v. Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District, No. D074324 (4th Dist., Mar. 7, 2019). The Fire Protection District Law, which authorizes the formation of fire districts, mandates compliance with the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government … Continue Reading

Ordinance Prohibiting Short-Term Rentals Did Not Conflict with Federal Policies Promoting Development of the Internet

The Ninth Circuit held that a local ordinance prohibiting short-term vacation rentals (such as those available on Airbnb and other websites) did not conflict with Congressional policies fostering development of the Internet or violate the First Amendment. Homeaway.com v. City of Santa Monica, No. 18-55367 (9th Cir., March 13, 2019). Finding that short-term rentals had … Continue Reading

Court Upholds Los Angeles’s Venice Sign-Off Procedure Against Due Process and Coastal Act Challenges

An appellate court held that the City of Los Angeles’s procedure for approval or denial of development projects in Venice did not violate residents’ due process rights because the procedure was ministerial. Venice Coalition to Preserve Unique Community Character v. City of Los Angeles, No. B285295 (2nd Dist., Jan. 9, 2019). The City uses two … Continue Reading

Court Upholds the City of Los Angeles’s General Plan Amendment for Mixed Use Development Project

The Second District Court of Appeal upheld the City of Los Angeles’s General Plan amendment, which changed the land use designation of a proposed project site for a mixed-use development against challenges the decision was prohibited by the City Charter. Westsiders Opposed v. City of Los Angeles, 27 Cal. App. 5th 1079 (2018). The developers … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Holds that Petition Challenging Wal-Mart Project is Barred by Earlier Lawsuit Raising the Same Issues

The court of appeal held that the plaintiff’s challenge to the City of Rohnert Park’s reapproval of a Wal-Mart grocery store was barred by the doctrine of res judicata because a prior proceeding had raised the same issues.  Atwell v. City of Rohnert Park (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.), 27 Cal. App. 5th 692 (2018). In 2010, … Continue Reading

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 is … Continue Reading

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 requires … Continue Reading

City’s Agreement to Extend Life of Billboards Violated Initiative Measure Prohibiting New Billboards

The Second District Court of Appeal held that the purported amendment of an agreement to extend the period in which billboards were permitted within the City constituted a new agreement and hence violated the terms of a ballot initiative prohibiting new billboards. Citizens for Amending Proposition L v. City of Pomona, No. (2nd Dist., Nov. … Continue Reading

City Approval of Agreement for Tree Removal Triggered 90-Day Statute of Limitations Under Planning and Zoning Law

Broadly construing Government Code § 65009, which establishes a 90-day limitations period for claims under the Planning and Zoning Law, an appellate court held that approval of an agreement allowing removal of trees constituted a “decision regarding a permit,” triggering the 90-day filing deadline. Save Lafayette Trees v. City of Lafayette, No. A154168 (1st Dist., … Continue Reading

Possibility that Zoning Standards Might Be Violated in Final Design Did Not Mandate EIR at Tentative Map Stage

A project opponent’s argument that the project might violate zoning laws in the future is not sufficient to require a city to prepare an EIR under CEQA. Friends of Riverside’s Hills v. City of Riverside, 26 Cal.App.5th 1137 (2018). The Lofgrens requested a residential development permit to build six single-family homes on an 11-acre parcel … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

Court Rejects Interpretation of Medical Marijuana Collective as a “Medical Office” under City’s Zoning Code

The Sixth District Court of Appeal has held that a medical marijuana collective is not a “medical office” as defined in San Jose’s Municipal Code. J. Arthur Properties, II, LLC v. City of San Jose, 21 Cal. App. 5th 480 (2018) Plaintiffs opened a medical marijuana collective in 2010 at a site zoned Commercial Office. … Continue Reading

Court Gives Green Light to Referendum of Ordinance Adopted to Conform Zoning With General Plan

A referendum requiring either the rejection of an enacted zoning ordinance or submission to the voters that would leave in place zoning inconsistent with a general plan does not violate Gov’t Code Section 65860, according to the court’s decision in Save Lafayette v. City of Lafayette, 20 Cal. App. 5th 657 (2018). The City of … Continue Reading

Voter-Approved Initiative to Limit Large Developments and Chain Stores Exceeded Initiative Power

In a case that illustrates the limits of use of voter-approved initiatives to limit development, the court of appeal invalidated an initiative passed by voters in the City of Malibu that sought to limit large developments and chain stores. The Park at Cross Creek v. City of Malibu, 12 Cal.App.5th 1196 (2017). The initiative at … Continue Reading

Charter City Exempt from General Plan Consistency Requirement

A charter city is exempt from the statutory requirement that its specific plans and zoning ordinances be consistent with its general plan absent an express, unequivocal statement of intent in the city charter to adopt the consistency requirement. Kennedy Commission v. City of Huntington Beach, No.    (4th Dist., Nov. 20, 2017). In 2010, the City … Continue Reading

State Authorizes Rental Inclusionary Housing Requirements

One of the 15 housing-related bills signed recently by Governor Brown could have especially significant implications for market-rate, residential rental projects in many jurisdictions, as the new legislation, AB 1505, will authorize cities and counties to adopt inclusionary housing requirements for rental units.  AB 1505 takes effect January 1, 2018. Nearly a decade ago, the … Continue Reading

Governor Signs Housing Legislation, Including Streamlining Bill

Governor Brown has signed 15 bills designed to address the State’s severe shortage of affordable housing.  Among its other effects, the legislation will (1) generate funds for affordable housing developments; (2) require cities and counties, as they approve new development, to maintain a supply of adequate housing sites for all levels of income; (3) tighten several provisions in … Continue Reading
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