In a major decision, the California Court of Appeal rejected a city’s interpretation of what constitutes an “objective” standard under the Housing Accountability Act and upheld the constitutionality of the law and amendments that strengthened it. The decision represents the second time this year that the Court of Appeal has both rejected a charter city’s
Planning and Zoning
Public Notice Need Not State That Permit Will Be Deemed Approved in Order for Permit Streamlining Act to Apply
A California Court of Appeal held that the Coastal Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development have concurrent jurisdiction over mobilehomes located in the coastal zone and that proper notice of a public hearing is sufficient to meet notice requirements for approval due to agency inaction under the Permit Streamlining Act. Linovitz Capo …
Judicial Streamlining Renewed for Expanded Set of “Environmental Leadership” Projects
California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation, Senate Bill No. 7, that reenacts a streamlined litigation process for certain “environmental leadership development projects” and extends eligibility to additional housing projects. Previous legislation offering similar benefits to a narrower range of developments expired on January 1.
To qualify for judicial streamlining under SB 7, a project…
SB 35 Streamlining Upheld Against “Home Rule” Challenge
Senate Bill 35 (Government Code section 65913.4) was enacted in 2017 as part of an effort by the State Legislature to increase housing production. The law compels local agencies, including charter cities, to issue streamlined approvals for qualifying multifamily residential projects, even, at times, where a project conflicts with a local ordinance. In Ruegg & …
Court In CEQA Case Applies the Deferential Standard in the Planning and Zoning Law When Determining Whether the Project Is Inconsistent with the Applicable General Plan
Petitioner could not avoid the deferential standard of review under the Planning and Zoning Law regarding an agency’s interpretation of its own general plan by framing the challenge as an “inconsistency” between the project and the general plan that required further analysis in the EIR pursuant to the CEQA Guidelines. Stop Syar Expansion v County…
Maximum State Density Bonus Increases for Primarily Market-Rate Housing Projects under AB 2345
The State Density Bonus Law, Government Code section 65915, provides the opportunity to develop additional market-rate housing and receive other benefits in exchange for including affordable units in a project. Governor Newsom recently signed legislation, Assembly Bill 2345, that makes several amendments to the Density Bonus Law, the most significant of which will increase how…
Violation of Zoning Ordinance Limiting Medical Marijuana Cultivation Did Not Justify Seizure of Dispensary’s Medical Marijuana
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,…
Disparate-Impact Claims Under FHA and FEHA Must Demonstrate Causal Connection Between a City’s Approval of Development Projects and Racial Disparity in Housing
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…
Project Denial Invalidated Where Councilmember’s Actions Crossed the Line Into Advocacy Against the Project
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).
“Whole of the Council” Meant All City Councilmembers, Not Just Those Present and Voting
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 “five-sevenths 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.
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