Welcome to Abbott & Kindermann’s 2022 1st Bi-Monthly cumulative Land Use and Local Government Review. This summary provides brief updates on recent land use and local government caselaw in 2022. The case names of the newest decisions start with Section 2 and are denoted by bold italic fonts.
CASES PENDING AT THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT
There is 1 case pending at the California Supreme Court. The case and the Court’s summary is as follows:
Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. County of Monterey, S271869. (H045791; 70 Cal.App.5th 153; Monterey County Superior Court; 16CV003978.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in a civil action. The court limited review to the following issue: Does Public Resources Code section 3106 impliedly preempt provisions LU-1.22 and LU-1.23 of Monterey County’s initiative “Measure Z”?
Planning, Development, and the Subdivision Map Act
Tran v. County of Los Angeles, (January 21, 2022) 2022 Cal.App. LEXIS 53.
Henry Tran (“Petitioner”), the owner of a liquor store in an unincorporated area south Los Angeles, applied for a renewal of the store’s conditional use permit (“CUP”) for the sale of alcohol. The County Department of Regional Planning (“Department”) processed the request and recommended certain limitations on the minimum size of liquor bottles, and limited the hours when alcohol sales could occur to 10:00 pm. The Regional Planning Commission (“Commission”) approved the CUP, but modified it to increase the hours of alcohol sales back to 2:00 am. Utilizing the County’s “call for review” procedures by one of the board members, the Board of Supervisors (“Board”) voted to hear the Commission’s decision and set the item for a public hearing. At the August 1, 2017, hearing, the Board heard testimony from the public and the Department and voted to approve a motion of intent to approve the CUP that added the time for alcohol sales limitation the Department recommended of 10:00 pm. On March 20, 2018, nearly eight months later, the Board formally adopted findings and conditions of approval consistent with the August 1, 2017 decision. Petitioner filed suit, arguing the delayed final decision violated County Code section 22.240.060, subdivision E.4, which requires the Board to act within 30 days of the close of the public hearing. (County Code §22.240.060(E)(4) [“Decisions on appeals or reviews shall be rendered within 30 days of the close of the public hearing” (emphasis added).].) The trial court rejected the claim, holding that the Board had rendered its decision on August 1, 2017, when it approved the motion of intent to approve the CUP with the modified hours requirements, and Petitioner appealed.
The Second District Court of Appeal reversed. The Court first focused on whether the Code’s apparent requirement was directive or mandatory—essentially determining whether the statutory provisions include a consequence for the failure to comply—the latter being required for the court to have the authority to invalidate the governmental action. Relying on the inclusion of an additional subdivision that mandates the affirmation of the lower body’s decision for the failure to timely act on the appeal, the Court held that the 30-day deadline to act was mandatory. Next, the Court considered whether the Board’s “decision” was “rendered” on August 1, 2017, with the motion of intent to approve and ultimately concluded it was not. It reasoned that because the right of judicial review and statute of limitations only flowed from the formality of adopting findings and the CUP with its final modifications of the Board’s final action on March 20, 2018, the August 1, 2017 decision did not “render” the Board’s “decision” as required by County Code section 22.240.060(E)(4). Thus, the Court ordered the trial court to issue a writ of mandate vacating the Board’s decision and deeming the Commission’s decision affirmed.
Protect Our Neighborhoods v. City of Palm Springs (2022) 73 Cal.App.5th 667.
Protect Our Neighborhoods (“Petitioners”), challenged the City of Palm Springs’ (“City”) adoption of an amended short-term rental ordinance in 2017. Specifically, petitioners challenged the City’s finding that the amended ordinance was consistent with the City’s zoning code, arguing that short-term rentals are commercial in nature and not residential. Petitioners also argued that because the ordinance defines short-term rentals as an “ancillary and secondary use,” single family homes cannot be used exclusively as short-term rentals. The trial court ruled in favor of the City, and Petitioners appealed.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed. The Court reasoned that though the language in the zoning code created a potential conflict, the City’s longstanding interpretation that “Vacation Rentals” are allowed in residential zones, and the later in time adoption of the amended ordinance reaffirming that interpretation to be applicable to short-term rentals warrants deference to the City’s interpretation of its own zoning code and held in favor of the City. The Court also rejected the claim that a single-family home could not be exclusively used for short-term rentals. It reasoned that even a “vacant” home retains its residential character, pointing to the zoning code’s definition of “dwelling” as “‘designed exclusively for residential occupancy’ [citations], not whether anyone actually resides there.”
William Abbott, Diane Kindermann, Glen Hansen, and Daniel Cucchi are attorneys at Abbott & Kindermann, Inc. For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, Inc. at (916) 456-9595.
The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, Inc., or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.