April 2010

By William W. Abbott

The facts in Watsonville Pilots Association v. City of Watsonville (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 1059 involve the City of Watsonville and its airport, located on the edge of the City. The airport’s main runway accounted for a majority (82%) of airport operations, and its crosswind runway, accounted for the balance. In 2005, the City amended its airport master plan (“WAMP”), redesignating downward the crosswind, and modifying or eliminating existing land use restrictions. In October 2005, the City circulated a DEIR for its new general plan, and later in May 2006, certified the EIR, adopted a statement of overriding considerations, and adopted the new 2030 General Plan. The new general plan called for significant new growth around the airport, in an area called Buena Vista. As part of the general plan approval, the City identified three significant unmitigated impacts: increased population and housing, loss of prime farmland and the potential to impact groundwater supply.

Continue Reading City’s New General Plan is not Cleared for Take-off, Returns to Base and is Grounded: Court Sets Aside Watsonville General Plan for Non Compliance with State Aeronautical Act and CEQA Requirements

One Day Seminar – Register Now! ~ Only $35

Featured Speaker: PAUL DOLAN, world-renowned winemaker, biodynamic grape grower, author, consultant and businessman is coming to the Motherlode Region on April 28, 2010, with a team of engineers and attorneys to strategize and help you balance economic and related business issues with environmentaland land use goals and obligations.

More information, agenda and registration click here.

One Day Seminar – Register Now! ~ Only $35

Featured Speaker: PAUL DOLAN, world-renowned winemaker, biodynamic grape grower, author, consultant and businessman is coming to the Motherlode Region on April 28, 2010, with a team of engineers and attorneys to strategize and help you balance economic and related business issues with environmentaland land use goals and obligations.

More information, agenda and registration click here.

By William W. Abbott 

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (“LBNL”) is a federal facility, operated by the University of California Berkeley. Its primary facility is located in the hills above Berkeley, although it shares onsite campus facilities and leases offsite facilities in Berkeley, Oakland and Walnut Creek. In January, 2007, the Regents published a DEIR for a Long Range Development Plan (“LRDP”). The EIR was prepared as a program-level document, describing the likely improvements to the site through the year 2025. The LRDP called for an increase of roughly 600,000 square feet of new space, additional employees, parking, and development of a campus-like setting, “fostering interaction and informal encounters among lab staff…” The EIR addressed 5 alternatives: no project, reduced growth alternative 1, reduced growth alternative 2, preservation alternative with Non-LBNL use of Historical Resources and a partial offsite alternative. Petitioners filed a CEQA challenge, and after trial, the court ruled for the petitioners with respect an argument that the FEIR should have been recirculated due to new information raised for the first time in responses to comments, but otherwise ruled for the Regents. Both sides appealed.

Continue Reading Regents’ CEQA Document Receives a Passing Grade; Opponent Marked Down for Inadequate Participation

By Katherine J. Hart and Leslie Z. Walker

In the second time in two months, the California Supreme Court announced that once a Notice of Exemption (“NOE”) for a project is filed, the applicable statute of limitations is 35 days – regardless of the circumstances surrounding the NOE. On April 1, 2010, the Court held that a citizens’ suit challenging a project under the California Environmental Quality Act was barred by the 35-day statute of limitations contained in Public Resources Code section 21167 subdivision (d) because the City of Stockton had filed a facially valid NOE. In Stockton Citizens for Sensible Planning v. City of Stockton (2010) _____ Cal.3d___ a citizens’ group challenged the approval of a Wal-Mart Supercenter (“Project”) found to be consistent with an approved master development plan (“MDP”) and thus exempt from further review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). The citizens’ group claimed that because the Community Development Director (“Director”) erred in approving the project, the statute of limitations for a challenge to the Notice of Exemption (“NOE”) was the 180-day period applicable when no NOE has been filed, not the shorter 35-day period applicable when public notice has been provided by means of an NOE. (Public Resources Code, § 21167, subd. (d); CEQA Guidelines, § 15112, subdivision (d)(2). ) Reversing the decisions of both the superior and appellate courts, the Supreme Court found that flaws in the decision-making process underlying a facially valid and properly filed NOE do not prevent the NOE from triggering the 35-day period to file a lawsuit challenging the agency’s approval of a CEQA-exempt project.

Continue Reading No Fooling: A Facially Valid NOE Triggers a 35-Day Statute of Limitations

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP launches California Settlements & Colonies, a blog chronicling California historic settlement stories, starting with San Bernardino, California 1851 – 1857 the Largest Latter-day Saint Colony Outside of Utah and the Largest Anglo-American Settlement in Southern California. Visit the California Settlements & Colonies by going directly to http://californialandsettlements.com/ or clicking on the Colonies and Settlements link at http://blog.aklandlaw.com/. Share your settlement story by clicking “submit your own story.”