California sues Huntington Beach to force it to plan low-income housing

: sfchronicle – excerpt

SACRAMENTO — The state sued the Orange County city of Huntington Beach on Friday to force it to plan for more affordable housing, part of a campaign by Gov. Gavin Newsom to boost construction in California as residents grapple with soaring housing costs.

Newsom said Huntington Beach has refused to meet a state mandate to provide new housing for low-income people. He promised that cities that do not do their part will be “held to account.”… (more)

Huntington Beach is not alone. Newsom sued San Francisco over the state’s right to control development on the city shoreline.

California Supreme Court Finds Fresno County EIR Deficient

A recent California Supreme Court decision reminds project proponents and lead agencies of the need for substantive analysis in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). On Christmas Eve 2018, the California Supreme Court published its opinion in Sierra Club et al. v. County of Fresno et al. (Dec. 24, 2018) __Cal.5th__ (Case No. S219783). The Sierra Club challenged the adequacy of Fresno County’s EIR for failing to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)…

In taking up the case, the High Court answered four important questions:

  1. How should courts determine the adequacy of an EIR’s analysis; what standard of review should the court apply?
  2. Does CEQA require an EIR to connect a project’s air quality impacts to specific health consequences?
  3. Did the County incorrectly defer mitigation when it kept the discretion to substitute later measures that may be technically superior?
  4. May a lead agency adopt mitigation measures that do not reduce the significant and unavoidable impacts to a less than significant level?

Implications: The court clearly lays out the fundamental review criteria: the “ultimate inquiry, as case law and the CEQA guidelines make clear, is whether the EIR includes enough detail to enable those who did not participate in its preparation to understand and to consider meaningfully the issues raised by the proposed project.”… (more)

Delineating CEQA’s Scope: First District Holds CEQA Does Not Apply To Ministerial Approval Of Multifamily Housing Project Allowed By Right Under Zoning Where City’s Discretion Was Limited To Design Review

by Miller Starr Regalia : jusuupra – excerpt

In an opinion filed December 18, 2018, and later ordered published on January 10, 2019, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment denying appellant citizen groups’ writ petition challenging the City of St. Helena’s approval of an 8-unit, multifamily housing project and related demolition and design review…

The Court of Appeal’s Opinion

In affirming the judgment, the Court of Appeal’s opinion set forth a number of significant points and holdings, including the following:… (more)

When CEQA Gets Ugly: Third District Holds Lay Public Opinion Supports Fair Argument That Project May Have Significant Aesthetic Effect Requiring EIR

by Miller Starr Regalia : jdsupra – excerpt

In a published opinion filed December 17, 2018, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment granting a writ setting aside El Dorado County’s approval of, and related Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for, construction of a Dollar General Store in the “quaint” downtown area of unincorporated Georgetown, a Gold Rush-era “hamlet” designated as a State Historical Landmark…

The Court held lay public commentary on nontechnical issues concerning the project’s size and general appearance constituted substantial evidence supporting a fair argument that the project may have significant aesthetic impacts, and thus required an EIR, notwithstanding County’s findings that the project complied with its Historic Design Guide… (more)

California Court of Appeal Upholds Ruling on Area Plan Modifications

By Latham & Watkins LLP : lexology – excerpt

CEQA Case Report: Understanding the Judicial Landscape for Development

In an unpublished opinion issued June 19, 2018, Center for Biological Diversity v. County of Los Angeles, Case No. B284427, the California Court of Appeal rejected the Center for Biological Diversity’s (Petitioner) appeal and affirmed the trial court’s denial of a petition for writ of mandate to require the County of Los Angeles (County) to set aside its approval of the modified Antelope Valley Area Plan (Plan) and certification of a program environmental impact report (EIR).

In summary, the court determined:

  • When modifications to an area plan do not constitute “significant new information” or “substantial changes” as compared to the original area plan, an agency need not revise the EIR before certification, recirculate the EIR, prepare a subsequent or supplemental EIR, or prepare an addendum to the EIR.
  • When modifications to a plan do not require an agency to recirculate an EIR, or prepare a supplemental EIR or addendum, the agency is not required to make further CEQA findings or provide an updated statement of overriding considerations... (more)

Once more unto the breach: The fate of Prop. C is now wholly in the lawyers’ hands

By : missionlocal – excerpt

Mayor Breed’s gesture aiding Prop. C, the homeless measure she opposed means less than you think. But, also, more.

The election is over. The winners have won, the losers have receded, and, as is the tradition, the losers’ backers will now make donations to the winners. This is how politicos who bet on the wrong horse get their phone calls answered and winning candidates chip away at their debts.

There are, however, some debts that can’t be repaid with mere money…(more)

A dying mall near Apple’s headquarters is turning into a fight over Silicon Valley’s soul

By Roland Li : sfchronicle – excerpt

As Apple flourished in Cupertino, becoming the first American company worth $1 trillion, Vallco Shopping Mall rotted away in its shadow.

The 1976 mall was home to the retail giants of the 20th century: Macy’s, Sears and J.C. Penney, which all closed their stores in the last three years as foot traffic dwindled and shoppers shifted online. Today, Vallco is a cavernous, mostly empty space of 1.2 million square feet, with a handful of survivors such as Dynasty Seafood Restaurant and the Bay Club hanging on. On the other side of Interstate 280 is Apple’s new $5 billion headquarters, which includes a sleek visitor center and shop.

Since 2014, developer Sand Hill Property Co. has sought to transform the mall into nearly 2 million square feet of office space, more than 2,400 housing units and a 400,000-square-foot retail center.

Thousands of Cupertino residents have fought back. In 2016, Sand Hill Property submitted a ballot measure to win support for one version of the project, while opponents had a measure that banned office space and housing on the site and kept the retail size the same. Both measures were rejected by voters, throwing the project into limbo… (more)

A Judge Considers Stepping in After Encinitas Failed – Again – to Pass a Housing Plan

By Jesse Marx : voiceofsandiego – exerpt

Much of coastal California is opposed to dense development. But opposition in Encinitas has reached unprecedented heights, testing the limits of local control while a statewide housing crisis unfolds.

A San Diego County Superior judge sounded open Tuesday to suspending an Encinitas law giving locals final say over major land-use changes. That law is one reason the city has for years been unable to write a housing plan that satisfies state regulators.

Last week, Encinitas residents rejected Measure U, a ballot measure — the second in two years — that would have allowed officials to update their housing plan for the first time since 1992. California mandates that cities accommodate their fair share of regional housing needs, and that includes making way for more low-income options… (more)



New Decisions offer important Guidance on California Ballot Box Planning

By David L Preiss |Rachel Antoinette Boyce :  hklaw – excerpt

Rulings Help Reconcile Local Land Use Decisions with Powers of Referendum and Initiative


Two recent decisions by California courts offer important judicial guidance on the longstanding issue of reconciling local government land use decisions with the referendum and initiative powers reserved to the people by the state’s constitution.

In a case before the California Supreme Court, the power of referendum prevailed despite a resulting inconsistency with the local general plan. In the second case, the California Court of Appeal held that the express statutory power delegated to local legislative bodies prevailed over the power of initiative.

The rulings show that there remains a very high bar for land use legislation adopted by local governments to prevail over the competing presumption in favor of the electorate’s exercise of its reserved powers of initiative and referendum, commonly known as “ballot box planning.”…

City of Morgan Hill v. Bushey, et al., S243042

Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. City of Moreno Valley, et al., D073451… (more)


Letter from Senator Glazer to David Chiu opposing AB 2923

If you don’t like the news you know what to do.

In some cases a lot of public opposition is voiced to stop a bill from going through. It is always good when some of our elected officials are on our side and not too shy to write strong opinions expressing their opposition. In the of AB 2923 we have a number of state representatives and civic leaders who strongly oppose this bill in support of their constituents who have joined to form a Tri Valley Coalition in opposition to this bill. Here is the a letter from Senator Glazer, who’s district and constituents are at odds with the bill that purports to remove local jurisdiction over development of local communities” … (more)

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