November 2013

By William W. Abbott

If you were hoping for an insightful article on human relationships, you are out of luck and clearly, you are reading the wrong blog. But if you are interested in bonding as it relates to subdivisions and improvement agreements, read on. With a frequency slightly ahead of locusts appearing every seventeen years, cases involving subdivision improvement bonds are cyclical, trailing serious downturns in the real estate development market. Two cases this year illustrate interesting features of this practice area.

Continue Reading BONDING IS NOT ALWAYS A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE

By William W. Abbott

South County Citizens for Smart Growth v. County of Nevada (October 8, 2013, C067764) ___ Cal.App.4th ___.

Starting in 2005, KKP submitted an application for a mixed use commercial center to be located in Nevada County on a 20 acre site. The proposal included a 60,000 square foot grocery store anchor, two retail buildings, two drive through restaurants and nearly 500 parking stalls. Four parcels would be retained by the property owner, and the proposal accommodated roughly 42,000 square feet of light industrial and office uses on the owner’s retained land. The last parcel was restricted to wetland/open space uses. The County released the DEIR in November 2007, disclosing three significant unmitigated impacts; two traffic impacts and one cumulative air impact. After an extended public review process, including additional analysis submitted by the applicant, the Planning Commission conducted a hearing on the FEIR in January 2009. The staff report for this hearing included a staff recommendation for an approval, with a variation on alternative 4 in the DEIR. The commission voted to recommend certification of the EIR and the various approvals associated with the project to the Board of Supervisors, including the staff recommended plan (which capped the amount of commercial footage and increased the open space area.) KKP then developed two alternatives responsive to the Planning Commission recommendation of the staff’s alternative. Staff evaluated KKP’s two additional alternatives, and recommended that the Planning Commission formally recommend KPP’s second alternative to the Board of Supervisors.

Continue Reading ADDITIONAL STAFF GENERATED PROJECT ALTERNATIVE DID NOT COMPEL RECIRCULATION OF THE DRAFT EIR NOR WERE ADDITIONAL FINDINGS OF INFEASIBILITY REQUIRED

By Glen Hansen

In Garcia v. Governing Board of Bellflower Unified School District (October 24, 2013, B247320) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ a former employee of the Bellflower Unified School District (“District”) filed an extraordinary writ petition against the District relating to her alleged exposure to mold. Her counsel later served on the District’s counsel in that proceeding a request for records from the District pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Gov. Code, § 6250 et seq.) (“PRA”). The letter listed eight (8) categories of records that were requested pursuant to the PRA. During the next month, the former employee’s counsel sent several additional letters and an email to the District’s counsel because the District did not respond to the original letter request. The District’s general counsel finally responded with a letter stating that there were no documents responsive to four of the requests, that two of the requests were overly broad and vague, and that documents responsive to two of the requests were exempt from disclosure. The former employee’s counsel then sent a ‘meet and confer’ letter to the District’s general counsel disputing the District’s objections and responses. But when the District did not respond to that letter, the former employee commenced mandamus proceeding seeking to compel the District to comply with the PRA. 

Continue Reading A Petitioner Is Entitled To Attorneys’ Fees Under The Public Records Act If The Petitioner Succeeds On Any Significant Issue And Achieves Some Of The Benefit Sought In The Litigation