August 2015

William W. Abbott has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 22nd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice areas of Land Use & Zoning Law and Litigation-Land Use & Zoning Law.

Mr. Abbott has also been included in Sacramento Magazine’s Top Lawyers List in the practice area of Land Use/Zoning.

By Daniel S. Cucchi

Banning Ranch Conservancy v. City of Newport Beach
(2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 1341 (“Banning Ranch II”).

In the latest installment of the Banning Ranch saga, we are provided another great example of the importance of carefully chosen words and phrases in a jurisdiction’s general plan policies and action statements.  In Banning Ranch II (2015), the City of Newport Beach approved a residential and commercial project located on one quarter of the 400-acre, largely undeveloped coastal property known as Banning Ranch. As the city processed the application, staff engaged with the Coastal Commission (“Commission”) through: (1) notification that the city was processing the project; (2) meetings to discuss Commission staff’s concerns; and (3) responding to the Commission’s submitted comments on the DEIR. Not satisfied with the project as proposed, the Commission commented that the city was required to work with the Commission to decide the appropriate use of habitats prior to project approval. The city responded by simply making it clear in the EIR that the project would not go forward without a coastal development permit from the Commission. The City then proceeded to approve the project, as is. Banning Ranch Conservancy (“Petitioners”) filed suit, arguing that: (1) the City violated its own general plan by failing to adequately coordinate with the Commission; and (2) the city’s EIR failed to identify potential impacts to “environmentally sensitive habitat areas” (“ESHA”), defined by the California Coastal Act, as a result of the project. The trial court found the city violated its general plan, but upheld the adequacy of its EIR. Both parties appealed.

Continue Reading Return of Banning Ranch: The Spurned Responsible Agency

Diane G. Kindermann was selected in the practice areas of Environmental, Land Use/Zoning and Real Estate and William W. Abbott in the practice areas of Land Use/Zoning and Real Estate. More information is available at http://www.superlawyers.com/california-northern/. The firm is pleased to continue to serve private and public clients in Northern California on land use, environmental and real estate matters for more than 19 years.