Assembly Bill 52 to expand CEQA’s scope and impose new consultation requirements
by Hunton & Williams LLP : lexology – excerpt
Opponents of arena project foul out
By Liz Klebaner and Benjamin Z. Rubin : lexology – excerpt
On November 20, 2014, the Third District Court of Appeal (Court) handed a partial victory to the City of Sacramento (City), rejecting petitioners’ appeal and thereby authorizing the continued construction of the Sacramento Kings arena in downtown Sacramento… In Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento, petitioners challenged the City’s certification of the arena project Environmental Impact Report (EIR), alleging the approval violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Constitution, and sought a preliminary injunction to halt the ongoing construction of the arena project. The trial court denied the preliminary injunction motion and petitioners appealed. The Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, rejecting petitioners’ constitutional claims.
The crux of the legal dispute is the validity of Senate Bill 743 (SB 743), signed into law by Governor Brown on September 27, 2013. SB 743, among other things, accelerated the timeline for preparing an EIR for the arena project, required project opponents to proceed to mediation with the City, specified the only basis on which a court could grant an injunction to stop the project, and imposed a non-binding limit on the time in which a court could resolve subsequent litigation against the City. With respect to the standard that has to be met to halt the arena project, Public Resources Code section 21168.6.6 provides that a court may grant an injunction only upon an opponent’s showing of imminent threat to public health and safety or unforeseen important historical, archaeological, or ecological values. Public Resources Code section 21168.6.6 directs the Judicial Council to promulgate a rule requiring the courts, “to the extent feasible,” resolve any action to set aside the project EIR within 270 days after the City certifies the administrative record for the action.
Petitioners argued that the above statutory limitations on judicial review intrude upon the core function of the courts and violate the separation of powers clause of the California Constitution. The Court rejected petitioners’ constitutional arguments. The Court also affirmed the trial court’s denial of petitioners’ motion for preliminary injunction, finding that petitioners failed to meet the Public Resources Code section 21168.6.6 standard for imminent threat or unforeseen circumstances.
The Right to CEQA Review Is Not a Constitutional Right…
SB 743 Is Constitutional Because It Does Not Invade Upon the Court’s Core Function to Say What the Law Is…
SB 743 Is Constitutional Because It Does Not Divest the Courts of their Jurisdiction For Failing to Adhere to the Time Frame For Resolving Litigation… (more)
High-Speed Rail Takes Two More Swipes at CEQA
By Kathy Hamilton : pulbicceo – excerpt
This is the second in a series of articles updating the status of the California high-speed rail project in the wake of the California Supreme Court green-lighting bond funding. The first article covered two earlier attempts by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to get around the California Environmental Quality Act. This article covers two more attempts…
In his 2013 State of the State address, Gov. Jerry Brown quoted “The Little Engine That Could”: “I think I can. I think I can.”
One thing the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which runs the project, thinks it can do is get around the California Environmental Quality Act. As noted in the first article in this series, it started with two attempts:
- Attempt 1: During the California Legislature’s closing days in August 2012, the CHSRA tried to pass more lenient measures to comply with CEQA. The Legislature didn’t cooperate.
- Attempt 2: In June 2013, the CHSRA filed a request with the 3rd District Court of Appeal in the city of Atherton’s suit against the project. The CHSRA wanted the court to recognize the federal pre-emption of jurisdiction, getting around state laws, such as CEQA. The court refused.
Attempt 3: De-publication…
Attempt 4: the Surface Transportation Board…
Originally posted at CalWatchdog... (more)
Replacing LOS: Experts Debate How CA Should Measure Transpo Impacts
by Melanie Curry : la.streetsblog – excerpt
California planning experts continue to debate how to most effectively measure transportation impacts in a way that will foster smarter growth, after the state abandoned the car-centric metric known as Level of Service (LOS).
The acronym-laden process of measuring transportation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) may be complex and wonky, but it’s certainly important. In creating a replacement for LOS, the CA Office and Planning and Research (OPR) will shape the future of development in California for many years to come.
SB 743, passed last year, mandated that the state create a replacement metric for LOS to measure the transportation impacts of developments under CEQA. The Office of Planning and Research has proposed a metric called Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), which would measure the amount of driving developments would generate, instead of focusing solely on minimizing delays for drivers.
OPR has made several other suggestions in their proposed guidelines, and are seeking public input to help them refine the changes. Specifically, they are asking for help on the following questions:
- Under the proposed guidelines, any project built within a half mile of transit with frequent service (running at least every 15 minutes) would be deemed to have no significant impact on travel, and wouldn’t have to undergo a VMT review. Is this an appropriate rule? Are there other factors that should be considered?
- What amount of vehicle miles generated by a development should be considered significant, and thus require an environmental impact report (EIR)? Who should decide what those levels are?
- What kinds of strategies should be used to mitigate increases in vehicle miles generated by a project?… (more)