February 2010

By Kate Hart

In a decision filed on February 11, 2009, Committee for Green Foothills v. Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, et al. (2010) __ Cal.2d ___, the California Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Appellate District Court of Appeal holding that the filing of a notice of determination (NOD) triggers a 30-day statute of limitations for all California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) challenges to the decision announced in the notice regardless of the nature of the CEQA violation.

Continue Reading NODs Provide Bullet-Proof Protection 30 Days After Posting

By Leslie Z. Walker

Today, February 16, 2010, the Office of Administrative Law filed the Amendments to the CEQA Guidelines addressing greenhouse gas emissions (“Amendments”) with the Secretary of State. The Amendments require the quantification and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. (For more information about the Amendments, see OPR Finalizes Proposed CEQA Guidelines and Transmits Them to Resources Agency and CEQA Guidelines on Greenhouse Gases One Step Closer to Law.) The Amendments will become effective on March 18, 2010. Lead agencies should consult Guidelines section 15007 to determine when the Amendments apply to the agency’s actions.


Continue Reading 30 Days Left: CEQA Guideline Amendments for Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Become Law on March 18, 2010

By Katherine J. Hart

In the last quarter of 2009, three new California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) cases were issued – two by the First Appellate District and one by the Second Appellate District – wherein developers claimed relief from agency inaction pursuant to Sunset Drive Corp. v. City of Redlands (1999) 73 Cal.App.4th 215 (“Sunset”). In sum, both the First and Second Appellate District Courts noted that Sunset does not stand for the proposition that an agency has a mandatory duty to complete and consider an EIR: 1) at all, and 2) not necessarily within the one year time frame provided by CEQA. A brief synopsis of each of the cases follows.

Continue Reading Application Processing: The Sun Has Set on Sunset

By Leslie Z. Walker

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (“BAAQMD”) was scheduled to be the first air district in the state to adopt quantitative as well as qualitative thresholds of significance for greenhouse gas emissions in January of 2010, but instead has delayed the decision until April of 2010. According to BAAQMD, the delay is to “provide more time for staff to meet with local governments, further develop analysis tools, and conduct trainings on applying the CEQA Guidelines.”

Continue Reading Bay Area Air Quality Management District Defers Adoption of Greenhouse Gas Thresholds

By Leslie Z. Walker

The Court of Appeals for the Second Appellate District demonstrated in January, that substantial evidence of a fair argument includes any evidence in the record, even a report from the Scottish Government evaluating a plastic bag tax. In Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach (January 21, 2010, B215788) ___ Cal.App.4th___,the appellate court found that substantial evidence supported a fair argument that an ordinance prohibiting the use of plastic bags in the city may require the preparation of an environmental impact report (“EIR”).

Continue Reading Paper or Plastic? Public Right Exception Allows Plastic Bag Producers to Challenge Negative Declaration for Environmental Ordinance

By Cori Badgley

Los Angeles Unified School District v. County of Los Angeles (2010) __ Cal.App.4th __ involved a tug-of-war between a county and a school district over a share of the property tax increment distributed by redevelopment agencies. In the wake of Proposition 13, property tax revenues are limited and their allocation is coveted by local government, special districts and school districts. Under redevelopment law, redevelopment agencies must give a portion of the incremental increase in property tax revenues to local entities, including schools, based on the percentage of property tax revenue received by the entity in that fiscal year. In this case, the Los Angeles Unified School District argued that it was entitled to a larger share of the property tax increment than it had been allocated because defendants, which included multiple redevelopment agencies, the County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles (collectively “county”), failed to take certain property taxes received by the school district into account. The trial court disagreed with the school district, and the appellate court reversed.

Continue Reading The Fight Over Property Taxes Continues: School District Entitled to Larger Share of Property Tax Increment