Christian L. Marsh

Christian L. Marsh

Christian Marsh advises clients on regulatory and land use entitlement issues governing real estate developments, ground and surface water supply projects, renewable and non-renewable energy facilities, and port and waterfront developments.

Regardless of the project’s size or scope, Christian provides effective and practical advice on matters related to endangered species, water rights, water quality, wetlands, environmental review, and the public trust doctrine. With a particular emphasis on matters pertaining to NEPA and CEQA review, Christian represents clients in state and federal court, and represented the prevailing parties in two appeals before the California Supreme Court. (Read more…)

Subscribe to all posts by Christian L. Marsh

Agency Email Correspondence Must be Retained Under CEQA, Appeals Court Holds

In a ruling that should send shivers up the spine of any public agency in California needing to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), the Fourth District Court of Appeal on July 30 held that any email correspondence related to a project and its compliance with CEQA must be retained as part of … Continue Reading

Sixth District Holds CEQA Does Not Require Supplemental Review for a Streambed Alteration Permit

The Sixth Appellate District, in Willow Glen Trestle Conservancy v. San Jose (2020) 49 Cal.App.5th 127, held that seeking a new Streambed Alteration Agreement (“SAA”) from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW”) for a previously approved project does not constitute a “further discretionary approval” within the meaning of CEQA Guidelines section 15162 and … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Alert: Judicial Council Amends Emergency Rule 9 for CEQA and Planning Cases

On May 29, 2020, the Judicial Council of California issued a Circulating Order to amend its earlier-issued Emergency Rule 9 in order to shorten the time for tolling statutes of limitations for all civil causes and provide a fixed date, including for causes of action arising under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and State … Continue Reading

Third Appellate District Voids City Council Vote Based on Legislative Member’s Bias

On May 8, 2020, the Third Appellate District, certified for publication its earlier decision in Petrovich Development Co. LLC v. City of Sacramento (C087283), where the Court, in a rare decision, voided a city council’s denial of a  conditional use permit (CUP) upon finding that one of the councilmembers was impermissibly biased against the project; … Continue Reading

Governor Newsom Issues Order Requiring Electronic Posting of CEQA Notices and Suspending CEQA Filing, Posting, Notice, and Tribal Consultation Requirements for 60 Days

On April 23, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-54-20 (the “Order”) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which eased procedural legal requirements as to a variety of types of civil actions, including CEQA cases.  In order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor has proclaimed a State of Emergency, and shelter in place orders … Continue Reading

Fifth Appellate District Invalidates Kern County Oil and Gas Ordinance

On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, the Fifth Appellate District invalidated Kern County’s 2015 Oil and Gas Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), which was intended to streamline the permitting process for a variety of oil and gas activities within unincorporated portions of the County, including for oil and gas production wells and related infrastructure such as well pads … Continue Reading

Trump Administration Announces Three Rules Making Sweeping Changes to Federal Endangered Species Act Regulations

On August 12, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) (collectively “Services”) jointly announced three rules that significantly revamp regulations implementing the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).  With the last comprehensive revisions to ESA regulations occurring in 1986, the Trump Administration’s trio … Continue Reading

After Years of Handwringing and Lengthy Stakeholder Negotiations, California Water Board Adopts State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredge or Fill Material to Waters of the State

On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) adopted its proposed State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredge or Fill Material to Waters of the State (“Procedures”). The Procedures were adopted after a lengthy stakeholder process and represent an attempt by the State to compromise among … Continue Reading

First District Rejects “Location Exception” for Project in Earthquake Fault and Landslide Areas and Affirms Class 3 Exemption for Small Residential Projects in the Berkeley Hills

In Berkeley Hills Watershed Coalition v. City of Berkeley (2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 880 [certified for partial publication], the Court of the Appeal for the First District affirmed that the construction of three new single-family homes on adjacent parcels in the Berkeley Hills was exempt under CEQA’s Class 3 exemption for single-family residences in urbanized areas.  … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Set to Review Companion Groundwater Cases and Resolve When County-Issued Well Permits May Be Treated As Ministerial and Not Subject to CEQA

After a long drought, the California Supreme Court at its November 14, 2018 conference voted unanimously to grant review of three decisions involving the question of whether well permits issued pursuant to county ordinances and incorporating state groundwater well-drilling standards are ministerial and thus not subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). … Continue Reading

Bay Planning Coalition Workshop: 2018 CEQA Update and Federal Regulatory Developments

We’re pleased to share that Downey Brand partners Kathryn Oehlschlager and Christian Marsh will be speaking at the Bay Planning Commission’s 6th Annual CEQA and Federal Regulatory Update on Thursday, October 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP.  Kathryn and Christian join other leading experts in land use … Continue Reading

Administration Continues its Roll on Regulatory Changes, Proposing Numerous Changes in Rules Governing Federal Endangered Species Act

On the heels of its notice of federal rulemaking under the National Environmental Policy Act (see our July 2 blog post) and other more modest efforts at reform on the administrative level, the Administration on July 19 announced a series of proposed changes to the regulations governing administration of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Among … Continue Reading

For the First Time in Forty Years, White House Council on Environmental Quality Poised to Propose Major Overhaul of its Implementing Regulations Under NEPA

On June 20, 2018, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued an advanced notice of proposed federal rulemaking, soliciting public comments on whether and how CEQ should update its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations. Comments on the proposed rulemaking are due July 20, 2018.… Continue Reading

Downey Brand’s Fall 2016 CEQA and Land Use Litigation Update

On October 7, I had the privilege of presenting the annual CEQA and Land Use Litigation Update at the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference & Expo in Long Beach. The Annual Conference is the state’s largest gathering of city officials from throughout California, and addresses a host of cutting-edge legal issues in the field … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Rejects “New Project Test” and Defers to Agencies on Whether Project Modifications Require Subsequent Environmental Review

On September 19, in a long-awaited and unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens v. San Mateo County Community College District.  The opinion, authored by the Court’s newest justice, Leondra Kruger, resolves a split among the Courts of Appeal regarding the proper procedures for … Continue Reading

Air District CEQA Guidelines Partially Invalidated For Mandating “CEQA-In-Reverse” Analysis, Following Remand From California Supreme Court

On remand from the California Supreme Court, the First Appellate District has issued its second ruling in California Building Industry Assn. v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District. In this case, CBIA challenged BAAQMD’s 2010 “CEQA Air Quality Guidelines”—specifically, the Guidelines’ thresholds and methods for assessing the effects of siting new sensitive receptors (residences) near … Continue Reading

Appellate District Rejects ‘Discovery Rule’ in CEQA Cases and Holds Challenge to Richmond Crude-By-Rail Facility Untimely Under 180-day Statute of Limitations

On July 19, the First District Court of Appeal published its opinion in Communities for a Better Environment v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District. In this case, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and a host of other environmental groups sought to challenge a rail-to-truck facility for the transloading of crude oil permitted by … Continue Reading

Appellate District in Newhall Ranch Case Limits its Jurisdiction to Supervise Agency Compliance with Rulings in CEQA Cases

As we reported last year, the California Supreme Court in Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife invalidated the greenhouse gas analysis and mitigation for the fully-protected unarmored stickleback on review of an environmental impact report (“EIR”) prepared for the Newhall Ranch development in northern Los Angeles County. In its ruling, the … Continue Reading

Downey Brand’s Spring 2016 CEQA and Land Use Litigation Update

I recently had the privilege of presenting the annual CEQA and Land Use Litigation Update at this year’s League of California Cities City Attorneys’ Spring Conference in Newport Beach. The annual conference is attended by more than 450 city attorneys and other legal professionals from across California, and addresses a host of cutting-edge legal issues … Continue Reading

Appeals Court Affirms Cadiz Valley Groundwater Project

In a series of sweeping opinions, the Fourth Appellate District on Tuesday, May 10, upheld the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project against six separate challenges brought by a host of environmental organizations and a salt mining operation. The Cadiz Project, initiated by the Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) and Cadiz, Inc. in … Continue Reading

Another Busy Year for CEQA in the California Supreme Court: Arguments Set for May 4 in San Mateo Gardens Case; Four Other Cases Pending

2015 was a banner year for CEQA rulings by the California Supreme Court, with four decisions handed down, each of which addressed key issues in the application of the statute and its governing regulations: Berkeley Hillside clarified the application of the “unusual circumstances” exception to categorical exemptions; City of San Diego addressed the feasibility of … Continue Reading
LexBlog