September 2010

By Leslie Z. Walker

The alliances between homebuilders and conservation groups forged during the drafting of Senate Bill 375 unraveled around the Regional Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets for Automobiles and Light Trucks (“Targets”) adopted today by the California Air Resources Board ("CARB"). Despite the suffering building industry’s claims that the Targets are too ambitious, CARB unanimously voted to adopt the Targets. The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, Senate Bill 375, requires CARB to set targets for GHG reduction for 2020 and 2035 and further requires the 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (“MPOs”) include Sustainable Communities Strategies (“SCS”) to achieve these Targets in their Regional Transportation Plans.

Continue Reading CARB Adopts SB 375 Targets for GHG Reductions Despite Economic Concerns

By William W. Abbott

Whether you attribute the expression “the best defense is a good offense” to Vince Lombardi, Bear Bryant, General Carl Von Clausewitz (On War, 1873) or Sun Tzu (Art of War, 6th Century, B.C.), the same holds true in CEQA. The Cal Bears scored a well deserved win in a recent legal challenge to a Regent approved expansion of the school’s athletic facilities, to be located near the historic Berkeley football stadium. (California Oak Foundation v. The Regents of the University of California (September 3, 2010, Case No. A122511____ Cal.App.4th ____.) Appellants’ playbook included a near endless list of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) offenses (e.g. project description, project objectives, impact analysis, mitigation measures, alternatives and findings) against which the blue and gold defense successfully held the line. Along the way, there were some noteworthy plays, discussed below.

Continue Reading Go Bears! Court Approves Cal Bears Athletic Facility Expansion

By Leslie Z. Walker

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“USFWS”) designation of 850,000 acres as critical habitat for fifteen endangered or threatened vernal pool species, against procedural attacks by the Homebuilders Association of Northern California (“Homebuilders”). In Homebuilders et al. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (9th Cir. Aug. 9, 2010, No. 07-16732) ____ F.3d____ 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 16439, Homebuilders claimed USFWS violated the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) (16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.) in issuing its final rule designating the critical habitat by: 1) improperly identifying primary constituent elements on the property; 2) failing to identify the habitat as either occupied or unoccupied habitat; 3) failure to predict when the species will be conserved; 4) improper textual exclusion of development areas from critical habitat designation; and 5) failure to conduct a cumulative economic impacts analysis. Giving deference to USFWS’s determination, the appellate court, like the trial court, upheld the habitat designations, rejecting the Homebuilders arguments for the reasons described below.

Continue Reading U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not Required to Predict the Point of Return for Critical Habitat under the Endangered Species Act

By Emilio Camacho & Leslie Walker

The County of Sacramento kicked off Phase 2 of the Climate Action Plan development at a workshop on Wednesday, August 25, 2010. Phase 2 will develop strategies to implement the Climate Action Plan (CAP), a comprehensive plan for becoming more resource efficient and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, originally released in May 2009. 

Continue Reading Sacramento County Climate Action Plan – Part Two