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Megan Unger is dedicated to helping public and private sector clients navigate complex environmental, land use, and regulatory issues. Megan’s enthusiasm and passion for environmental law aid her in assisting clients with a wide range of legal issues, including compliance with various environmental regulations. (Read more...)

In California Construction and Industrial Materials Association v. County of Ventura (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 1, the California Construction and Industrial Materials Association and the Ventura County Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business separately and unsuccessfully petitioned for writs of mandate to require the County of Ventura to vacate an ordinance creating a wildlife migration corridor. The

In McCann v. City of San Diego (2023) 94 Cal.App.5th 284 (McCann II), the Fourth District Court of Appeal held the trial court exceeded its jurisdiction by failing to discharge a writ of mandate.  The writ was issued for the failure to analyze whether a set of projects approved through a mitigated negative

In Claremont Canyon Conservancy v. Regents of the University of California (2023) 92 Cal.App.5th 474, two organizations, the Claremont Canyon Conservancy and the Hills Conservation Network, filed petitions for writ of mandate challenging the adequacy of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) for a plan to conduct a Wildland Vegetative Fuel Management Plan to decrease wildfire risk at the University of California, Berkeley’s Hill Campus. Consolidated in the trial court, the petitions asserted that the EIR’s project description and discussion of environmental impacts were inadequate, arguing that the EIR lacked important details about the precise number of trees to be removed under the Plan. The trial court agreed, and halted the Plan. In a dramatic turn, the Court of Appeal reversed, finding that “the EIR include[d] sufficient detail to enable the public to understand the environmental impacts associated with the Regents’ plan to remove vegetation in specific locations on the Hill Campus to reduce wildlife risk.” The case helps settle the level of detail required in an EIR’s project description, particularly where some details may be subject to refinement when implementing the project.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced proposed major new infrastructure permitting reforms on May 19, 2023 in an effort to create thousands of jobs and build California’s clean energy future. The eleven-bill package seeks to expedite certain water, transportation, clean energy, semiconductor, and microelectronics projects, including water recycling and desalination plants, solar fields, offshore wind farms, the Sites Reservoir Project in the Sacramento Valley, and the plan to build a tunnel to transport water to Southern California beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (the Delta Conveyance Project). A Senate budget committee found the package was too complex for last-minute consideration before the June 2 cutoff for bills to pass out of their house, but there is still some hope that the plan could move forward.

In Pacific Palisades Residents Association, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles et al. (2023) 88 Cal.App.5th 1338, the Second District issued a strong opinion affirming the trial court’s ruling that a proposed eldercare facility in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood was consistent with the Los Angeles Zoning Code and exempt from CEQA review under the Class 32 exemption for infill development projects, and that substantial evidence supported the California Coastal Commission’s (CCC) decision that the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) appeal presented no substantial issue under the Coastal Act. Downey Brand attorneys Kathryn Oehlschlager and Hina Gupta represented the City of Los Angeles in this case.

In Save Livermore Downtown v. City of Livermore (2022) 87 Cal.App.5th 1116, the First District Court of Appeal held that the City of Livermore (City) did not violate planning and zoning laws when it approved a 130-unit affordable housing project (Project) in the downtown area. The Project was found to be exempt under CEQA

In Citizens’ Committee to Complete the Refuge v. City of Newark (2021) 74 Cal.App.5th 460, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling that a residential project in a specific plan area in the city of Newark fell within Government Code section 65457, a statutory exemption under CEQA for residential development

On April 19, 2022, the Biden administration finalized a new rule (“Final Rule”) rolling back the Trump administration’s 2020 changes limiting the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Final Rule re-establishes the prior broader scope of NEPA review, restores key provisions of NEPA that existed prior to 2020, and requires

On April 20, 2022, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) adopted changes to its thresholds for evaluating the significance of climate impacts from land use projects and plans under CEQA.  These thresholds of significance changes are important because they can be used by agencies as guidelines for determining climate impacts from projects subject

This legislative year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law thirty-one pieces of legislation designed to combat California’s ongoing housing crisis by providing tools to expand housing production, streamline housing permitting, and increase allowable density across the state.  Key housing-related bills, which take effect on January 1, 2022, unless otherwise noted, are discussed below.

  • SB 7