CEQA baseline can consider historic levels of use

Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP : lexology – excerpt

North County Advocates v. City of Carlsbad (2015)—Cal.App.4th—Case No. D066488

Why It Matters: This case addresses an important issue under CEQA relating to the development of the existing conditions baseline against which project impacts are measured. This decision holds that an EIR prepared for the renovation of a vacant department store could include the store’s historical operational information in establishing the environmental baseline for the project’s traffic impact analysis under CEQA.

Facts: In 1969 a Westfield shopping center was constructed in Carlsbad, California (City). It featured retail shops and five main anchor department store buildings, one of which was a Robinsons-May store. Under a “Precise Plan” approved by the City in 1977, Westfield was entitled to renovate the interior of the Robinsons-May store and fully occupy it without obtaining further approvals. In 2006 the Robinsons-May store became vacant, although smaller retailers such as Halloween stores occupied the space intermittently from time to time thereafter. In August 2012 the City released a draft EIR for a project to demolish and reconstruct the former Robinsons-May store, approximately six years after it had become vacant. The project would result in a net loss of 636 square feet of total gross leasable area… (more)

Atherton lawsuit against Caltrain over electrification project clears one

Atherton has won at least an incremental victory against Caltrain’s plans to electrify its tracks through the town, thanks to a federal agency’s determination that the commuter service doesn’t fall under its jurisdiction.

The town in February filed a lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court alleging that Caltrain’s environmental impact report for its electrification project does not comply with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines.

Caltrain asked the Surface Transportation Board to exempt it from the CEQA, but on July 2 the federal agency’s board ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over Caltrain… (more)

Court: Cities can force developers to include affordable housing

By Stephen Frank : capoliticalreview – excerpt

Central Valley Business Times

Supreme Court upholds San Jose ordinance
Could impact nearly 200 California cities immediately
Housing developers can be required by cities to include a percentage of their homes for low- or moderate-income buyers, the California Supreme Court says.
The ruling upholds a Court of Appeal decision that backed the city of San Jose, which had been challenged by the California Building Industry Association.
“The conditions that the San Jose ordinance imposes upon future developments do not impose exactions upon the developers‘ property so as to bring into play the unconstitutional conditions doctrine under the takings clause of the federal or state Constitution,” says the unanimous Supreme Court ruling Monday. “Furthermore … an in lieu monetary fee that is imposed to mitigate a particular adverse effect of the development proposal under consideration — the conditions imposed by the San Jose ordinance at issue here do not require a developer to pay a monetary fee but rather place a limit on the way a developer may use its property.”
Noting that the problem of finding affordable housing in California has become worse over the years, the state’s highest court says the city had a constitutionally legitimate reason to use the ordinance to increase “the number of affordable housing units in the city in recognition of the insufficient number of existing affordable housing units in relation to the city‘s current and future needs” and assure “that new affordable housing units that are constructed are distributed throughout the city as part of mixed-income developments in order to obtain the benefits that flow from economically diverse communities and avoid the problems that have historically been associated with isolated low income housing.”
The ruling is expected to have wide-ranging impact as nearly 200 California cities have adopted some form of the San Jose ordinance… (more)

The Supreme Court Eyes CEQA

The Supreme Court Eyes CEQA

 

The best prospect for reform of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is no longer with the Legislature or the Governor, but at the California Supreme Court.

Over the past several years, hopes were high that the political branches would dig in to drain the CEQA litigation swamp. Governor Brown famously called CEQA reform the “Lord’s work.” Outgoing Senate leader Darrell Steinberg made reform of this law an “agenda priority” in 2013.

But for all the sound and fury – not incidentally as California struggled to recover from a deep recession – the rhetoric signified nothing. The legislative reform efforts fizzled and even Governor Brown has expressed a diminished enthusiasm for reform. Indeed, one of the most significant CEQA bills over the past four years expanded its scope to include Native American religio-cultural beliefs.

Enter the high court… (more)

Is “parking” really a CEQA impact? Same as it ever was!

Is “parking” really a CEQA impact? Same as it ever was!

By Miller Starr Regalia Arthur F. Coon : lexology.com – excerpt… a projects’ parking deficits themselves are per se “impacts” requiring mitigation under CEQA – would be antithetical to many environmentally-beneficial “smart growth” policies which discourage on-site parking and automobile use and encourage mass transit and alternative forms of transportation….

Would this be real mass transit or imagined mass transit that is “planned” but does not actually exist?
We shall see how real the public transit system is when BART and AC transit strike.
NOTE: In this case, the court seems to be focused on the “lack of proof”, “inaccurate studies”, and concern over “temporary loss of parking in a residential area”.

Continue reading “Is “parking” really a CEQA impact? Same as it ever was!”

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