February 2011

By William W. Abbott

The right of California voters to control their own legislative fate derives from the national political reform movements at the beginning of the 20th Century, and in fact, Hiram Johnson was elected governor in 1910 in part due to his support for initiatives and political reform. In the following 100 years, this populist element of democracy has become part of local land use planning and development legal framework as local voters have used California’s constitutional initiative and referendum powers to shape growth. A recent case from the City of Santa Barbara illustrates a variation on the intersection of planning and voter control. Citizens Planning Association v. City of Santa Barbara (2011) ____ Cal.App.4th ____.

Continue Reading Having the Last Say: Use of Parkland for Road and Bridge Requires Local Voter Approval

By Glen C. Hansen

In 2008, the California Legislature enacted Civil Code section 2923.5. That statute requires, before a notice of default may be filed, that a lender contact the borrower in person or by telephone to “assess” the borrower’s financial situation and to “explore” options for the borrower to prevent foreclosure.  In Mabry v. Superior Court (June 2, 2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 208, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District addressed a case where plaintiff borrowers brought an action that requested a restraining order to prevent a foreclosure sale based on the lender’s alleged failure to comply with section 2923.5. The trial court denied plaintiffs’ request on the grounds of no private right of enforcement and federal preemption. The Court of Appeal reversed, and disagreeing with the trial court on both grounds.

Continue Reading Borrowers May Sue to Postpone a Foreclosure if the Lender Does Not First Discuss Options with the Borrower to Prevent Foreclosure

By Glen Hansen

In Hashalom v. City of Santa Monica (No. B212733, November 22, 2010) 2010 Cal.App. LEXIS 1990, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that an apartment complex did not fall within a statutory exemption from historic preservation provided by Government Code section 37361, subdivision (c), because the property had always been a commercial enterprise, both when the current owner purchased it and when the same owner later sought the exemption.

Continue Reading To be Exempt from Landmark Designation, a Property Must be Related to the Owner’s Religious Mission Before Application for the Exemption

By Cori Badgley

Regardless of the substantive merits of a case, the procedural requirements of the statute of limitations first must be met. In County of Sonoma v. Superior Court (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 1312, the owners of a medical marijuana dispensary (“plaintiff”) attempted to cast their lawsuit as an as-applied challenge to the county’s local ordinance regulating dispensaries. However, the appellate court held that the challenge was actually a facial challenge, and plaintiff failed to bring the challenge within 90 days of the effective date of the ordinance. Therefore, plaintiff was barred from bringing its lawsuit.

Continue Reading A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is Still a Wolf: Court Denies Medical Marijuana Case on Statute of Limitations Grounds