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In a land use and municipal law related case (not involving a CEQA challenge), Petitioner challenged the City of Los Angeles’s (City) decision to grant a synagogue a conditional use permit and parking variance. Petitioner petitioned for a writ of administrative mandamus, which was denied by the Superior Court. Petitioner appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal, which overturned the lower court’s decision finding that the City failed to comply with City Charter and Municipal Code provisions. The Court explained that under Municipal Code, the City must make its decision based on findings from the Zoning Administrator. It can, however, modify the Zoning Administrator’s decision, but in doing so the City must explain why it is modifying the decision and how the Zoning Administrator erred. In this case, the City stated that it would overturn the Zoning Administrator’s decision, but made no effort to explain why or present evidence showing how the Zoning Administrator erred. The Court explained that the City was also required to show the “analytical route” it took from evidence to action. The City failed to present this information as well. The Appellate Court thus remanded the case with instructions that the City Council must comply with the Municipal Code in reviewing the Zoning Administrator’s decision.

Key Point:

Where a Board of Supervisors or City Council reviews a planning determination in an administrative appeal, reversal of the original determination must be supported by evidence.

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