Court Affirms Inadequacy Of Programmatic EIR for SANDAG's Sustainable Communities Plan, rejecting Alternatives and Lack Of Meaningful Mitigation Measures

Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments (November 24, 2014, D063288) ___ Cal.App.4th ___.

By William W. Abbott

In the first published decision to review a metropolitan planning organization’s Sustainable Communities Strategy, the Fourth Appellate District invalidated the EIR. This is a decision with potentially significant ramifications for many other EIRs as well. 

Continue Reading...
Tags:

SAVE THE DATE! Abbott & Kindermann's 14th Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of four seminars taking place in early 2015.

In January and February 2015 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its 14th annual educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, agriculture, real estate transactions, easements, mining and the construction materials production industry.  

A summary of 2014 case law and legislative updates includes the following hot topics for 2015:

  • Air Quality and Climate Change: including CEQA Guidelines and Mandatory Reporting
  • Mining
  • Updating Land Use Entitlements
  • Endangered Species
  • Water Quality and Wetlands
  • Water Rights and Supply
  • Cultural Resources
  • Renewable Energy
  • Environmental Enforcement
  • Hazardous Substance Control and Cleanup
  • Timber Resources
  • CEQA: Exemptions, Baseline, Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change
  • CEQA Litigation
  • Real Estate Acquisition and Development
Continue Reading...

SAVE THE DATE! Abbott & Kindermann's 14th Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of four seminars taking place in early 2015.

In January and February 2015 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its 14th annual educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, agriculture, real estate transactions, easements, mining and the construction materials production industry.  

A summary of 2014 case law and legislative updates includes the following hot topics for 2015:

  • Air Quality and Climate Change: including CEQA Guidelines and Mandatory Reporting
  • Mining
  • Updating Land Use Entitlements
  • Endangered Species
  • Water Quality and Wetlands
  • Water Rights and Supply
  • Cultural Resources
  • Renewable Energy
  • Environmental Enforcement
  • Hazardous Substance Control and Cleanup
  • Timber Resources
  • CEQA: Exemptions, Baseline, Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change
  • CEQA Litigation
  • Real Estate Acquisition and Development

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual program at four locations: Redding, Modesto, Sacramento and Napa. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and we look forward to seeing you there.

Redding Conference (To Register for the Redding Location Click Here)

Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding, 5050 Bechelli Lane

Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Modesto Conference (To Register for the Modesto Location Click Here)

Date: Thursday, January 15, 2015

Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street

Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference (To Register for the Sacramento Location Click Here)

Date: Friday, January 23, 2015

Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street

Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast

Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Napa Conference (To Register for the Napa Location Click Here)

Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Location: Napa Valley Marriott Hotel and Spa, 3425 Solano Avenue

Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The registration fee for the program is $80.00. Please register early to reserve your seat. Select the links above to see registration details for each location, as they differ. MCLE and AICP CM credits are available (pending approval).

Please call (916) 456-9595 with any questions.

 

Court Of Appeal Applies Traditional Deferential Standard Of Review To Questions Of General Plan And Consistency Determinations Including Requirements Enacted By The Local Voters

By William W. Abbott

San Francisco Tomorrow v. City and County of San Francisco (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 498

Are general plan policies adopted by the citizens through an initiative, entitled to special consideration for purposes of determining consistency of projects with the general plan? Faced with that question in the context of planning policies adopted nearly 30 years ago in San Francisco, the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, declined to elevate the legal significance of citizen crafted measures as compared to other regulatory requirements adopted through traditional means. Approximately 30 years ago, the voters in San Francisco adopted new land use requirements. Jumping ahead three decades, the court of appeal had to resolve whether a major private redevelopment undertaking was consistent with the relevant city regulations and policies, including those adopted by the voters.

Continue Reading...

NEW CLASS - Napa Wine Law Class - Analyzing The Potential Of Winery And Vineyard Property

Join Diane G. Kindermann and Brian Russell of Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, in a new class which will provide the attendee with current issues and solutions to consider when analyzing the feasibility of a winery or vineyard property. This half day program will cover how local, state and federal laws could restrict or enhance your intended uses. For example, the class will provide an overview on how the California Environmental Quality Act, the Napa County General Plan, and the Napa County Winery Definition Ordinance govern the permitting process. Insight into California water law, the Endangered Species Acts, and how cultural resources could impact your plans for your land will also be included. Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will provide strategies and recommendations for achieving your desired entitlements, working with local planning staff and managing potential opponents to your project. Finally, this class will identify shifting patterns of regulations applicable to vineyards and winery approvals to anticipate in the upcoming years.

Cost $85.00

Location and Time

November 18, 2014, 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (To Register Click Here)

Villagio Inn & Spa, 6481 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

Sign in:           8:30 a.m.

Class:              9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

MCLE and American Planning Association continuing education credits offered, pending approval.

MCLE 2.25     CM 2.25

 

Local Land Use Permitting and Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act

By William W. Abbott

El Dorado Estates v. City of Fillmore,765 F.3d 1118(9th Cir. Cal.2014)

The Ninth Circuit has concluded that the improper handling of a subdivision application by a city can give rise to a claim of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. The claim stems from city responses to an application to subdivide an existing mobilehome park. El Dorado Estates (“El Dorado”) is the owner of a mobilehome park for residents 55 and older, located in the City of Fillmore. In 2008, the city considered adopting a park rent control ordinance, and El Dorado publically discussed the opening of the park to families. El Dorado elected to pursue a different path, that being to exit as a park operator and to subdivide and sell the tenant spaces. The existing tenants were opposed, and El Dorado encountered obstacles in processing its subdivision application through the city. El Dorado sued the city twice in state court. El Dorado then filed in federal court, alleging that the city’s land use practices were discriminatory based upon family status (families with minor children). El Dorado alleged that it faced unreasonable delays and expenses as a result of the city’s allegedly discriminatory practices. The city successfully filed a motion to dismiss based upon El Dorado’s lack of standing. The district court agreed, dismissing the case, and El Dorado appealed.

The Ninth Circuit disagreed, finding that El Dorado met the minimum three elements to satisfy standing: injury in fact, causation and redressibility. The Ninth held that that El Dorado alleged sufficient injury: unreasonable delays and extralegal conditions imposed upon its land use requests. Satisfied with the allegations of injury, the court of appeals found the remaining two elements: causation could be linked back to the allegations pertaining to the city’s actions while processing the applications and redressibility in that the district could award monetary damages based upon the injuries suffered by El Dorado. Whether El Dorado can prove its claims at trial remains to be determined. More on the federal Fair Housing Act can be found here http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/hce/title8.php. Information concerning California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act can be viewed here http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Publications_FEHADescr.htm.

Continue Reading...

State Water Resources Control Board Issues Notice Of Plan To Temporarily Lift Curtailments During Future Rainfall Events

By Glen C. Hansen

On May 27, 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board (“Board”) issued curtailment notices to all post-1914 appropriative water right holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin, Russian, and Eel River watersheds. On October 3, 2014, the Executive Director of the Board issued a letter to appropriate water rights holders that discussed the Board’s plan to temporarily lift such curtailments during future rainfall events. (The letter is found at http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/docs/curtail_lift.pdf.) Because the conditions in many of the State’s watersheds “continue to demonstrate that there is insufficient water available to meet reported demand,” the Board intends to “temporarily lift curtailments during significant storm events to capture new precipitation.” The Executive Director explained that policy as follows: 

Due to the possibility for prolonged dry conditions, the State Water Board does not want to limit the potential for water right holders in the curtailed watersheds to collect water to storage during near-term substantial precipitation events. If dry conditions persist, then it is in the public interest to maximize the amount of water diverted to storage for later beneficial use, particularly given the low storage levels at the outset of the water year. Until the time when curtailments are permanently lifted based on the water availability/demand analysis, the State Water Board plans to provide notice of periodic opportunities during storm events to divert water. Since such notices will be reactive to precipitation events, the State Water Board’s notices will be distributed on a real-time basis solely via email through the Drought email subscription available at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/swrcb_subscribe.shtml (select Water Rights and then Drought Updates). Notices will not be mailed out. Should the State Water Board temporarily lift curtailments, you will be authorized to immediately divert water under your post-1914 right, provided your right authorizes diversion at that time and you comply with all other terms and conditions of your right. You are responsible for monitoring your email account and taking immediate action to cease diversion of water under your post-1914 rights should the State Water Board send a follow-up curtailment notice. Failure to cease diversions after that notice will be subject to enforcement.

The State Water Board considers implementation of this real-time early precipitation plan in the public interest because it increases water storage supplies at every opportunity. The State Water Board also considers the potential for injury to most senior water right holders to be minimal. The lifting of curtailment, however, does not release junior water right holders from the standard obligation to allow water to pass for senior diverters when they must do so to satisfy senior water rights. For this reason, water right holders should maintain a record of daily diversions in case a complaint by a senior right holder alleges injury resulting from the diversions. The State Water Board will request such records if complaints are received. Water right holders should monitor the State Water Board’s email notices and/or website to take advantage of these temporary actions. [Bold and italics added.]

Appropriative water rights holders are therefore urged to make sure the Board has their accurate email addresses, and to monitor all correspondence from the Board (or frequently check the Board’s website when there is the possibly of rain in the forecast).

Glen C. Hansen is senior counsel at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

 

 

 

Continue Reading...

NEW CLASS - Napa Wine Law Class - Analyzing The Potential Of Winery And Vineyard Property

Join Diane G. Kindermann and Brian Russell of Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, in a new class which will provide the attendee with current issues and solutions to consider when analyzing the feasibility of a winery or vineyard property. This half day program will cover how local, state and federal laws could restrict or enhance your intended uses. For example, the class will provide an overview on how the California Environmental Quality Act, the Napa County General Plan, and the Napa County Winery Definition Ordinance govern the permitting process. Insight into California water law, the Endangered Species Acts, and how cultural resources could impact your plans for your land will also be included. Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will provide strategies and recommendations for achieving your desired entitlements, working with local planning staff and managing potential opponents to your project. Finally, this class will identify shifting patterns of regulations applicable to vineyards and winery approvals to anticipate in the upcoming years.

Cost $85.00

Location and Time

November 18, 2014, 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (To Register Click Here)

Villagio Inn & Spa, 6481 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

Sign in:           8:30 a.m.

Class:              9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

MCLE and American Planning Association continuing education credits offered, pending approval.

MCLE 2.25     CM 2.25

 

Tags:

DWR to Host Informational Webinar Sessions for Incorporating Flood Risk into Local General Plans

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will host two informational webinar sessions on the recently released Guidance on General Plan Amendments for Addressing Flood Risk (September 2014). The Guidance document was developed to assist cities and counties within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley amend their general plans to address flood risk (Senate Bill 5 (2007) as amended in 2012). The Guidance includes a comprehensive reference with more than 50 sources of flood management data and information from government agencies about projects, programs, and databases that can benefit planners, floodplain managers, and public works professionals.

Continue Reading...
Tags:

When It Comes To CEQA, It's Good To Be The King er, I Mean The Governor

By William W. Abbott

Picayune Rancheria v. Brown (September 24, 2014, C074506) ___ Cal.App.4th ___.

Practitioners are familiar with the incredible breadth in the applicability of CEQA to numerous governmental agency actions. Agencies have been admonished by the California Supreme Court against early commitments to projects in advance of environmental review (Save Tara v. City of West Hollywood (2008) 45 Cal.4th 116) although non-binding commitments are not “projects’ necessitating CEQA review. (Cedar Fair, Inc. v City of Santa Clara (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 1150) [link 2]  Apparently, if you are the Governor you have even less to worry about. 

This issue of the Governor’s obligation to follow CEQA was brought to a head when a tribe operating an existing casino sued the Governor on CEQA grounds when the Governor concurred in a determination by the United States Department of the Interior that a new casino would be in the best interest of the Indian tribes and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community. Immediately following the concurrence determination, the Governor entered into a gaming compact with the interested tribe sans CEQA review, resulting in the CEQA challenge by the tribal gaming competitor. No CEQA worries here according to the trial and appellate court, as the Governor is not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act. The appellate court reached this conclusion based in part on the omission of the Governor from the definition of public agency in CEQA, along with the CEQA carve out created by the Legislature for tribal gaming compacts.

Label me a cynic perhaps, but this decision invites a minor digression about the illusive Holy Grail of CEQA reform. In recent years, the Legislature has responded to the desperate cries for help for a very vulnerable group; the owners of professional sports organizations. Apparently the Legislature is convinced that these downtrodden entrepreneurs are clearly entitled to preferential treatment, but that this treatment should not be shared with the public at large. Now that it is clear that the Governor is exempt from CEQA, what motivates reform? As the saying goes, ah it’s good to be the king.

William Abbott is a partner at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

Tags: