Samuel D. Bacal-Graves

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Sam Bacal-Graves helps public and private clients navigate complex land use and environmental issues. He aids developers and agencies with a wide range of legal issues, utilizing his knowledge of CEQA, California’s housing laws, and other planning and environmental laws. (Read more…)

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Approval Upheld for Lafayette Affordable Housing Project Delayed for a Decade

In a partially published opinion in Save Lafayette v. City of Lafayette (2022) 85 Cal.App.5th 842, the First District Court of Appeal upheld approval of an affordable housing project in the face of the third in a series of lawsuits filed by a citizens group against it. The Court held that the applicant could resume processing … Continue Reading

Discretionary Reductions in Water Deliveries Allowed Under Terms of Existing Leases are not a New CEQA Project

In County of Mono v. City of Los Angeles (2022) 81 Cal.App.5th 657, the First District Court of Appeal held that a reduction in water deliveries by the City of Los Angeles (City) to lessees in Mono County (County) was not a new CEQA project, but was within the scope of existing leases. In 2010, the … Continue Reading

Trial Court Decision Indicates that Housing Must be Permitted at General Plan Density, Regardless of More Restrictive Zoning

In YIMBY v. City of Los Angeles (Super. Ct. L.A. County, 2022, No. 21STCP03883), a Los Angeles County trial court decided a number of issues under California housing laws. Though the trial court decision carries neither precedential nor persuasive value, it may portend the direction in which courts will interpret these relatively new laws. In … Continue Reading

Housing Accountability Act Only Applies to Multi-Unit Residential Projects

In Reznitskiy v. County of Marin (2022) 79 Cal.App.5th 1016, the First District held that the Housing Accountability Act, Government Code Section 65589.5 (HAA), does not apply to a project consisting of one individual residential unit. In unpublished portions of the opinion not further discussed in this summary the Court also held that equitable estoppel did … Continue Reading

CEQA Lawsuit, Latest in Decades of Local Opposition Delaying Marin County Housing Development, Met with Judicial Rebuke: “Something is very wrong with this picture”

In Tiburon Open Space Committee v. County of Marin (2022) 78 Cal.App.5th 700, the First District Court of Appeal considered the adequacy of an EIR certified by Marin County (County) for a residential development. The Court rejected a number of arguments raised by opponents, most prominently the argument that the EIR erred in recognizing limits on … Continue Reading

Trial Court Failed to Take Catalytic Effect of CEQA Lawsuit into Account When Denying Petitioners Attorney’s Fees Following Voluntary Dismissal

In Department of Water Resources Environmental Impact Cases (2022) 79 Cal.App.5th 556, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying motions for attorney’s fees arising out of the voluntary dismissal of coordinated petitions following project changes and decertification of the challenged EIR under pressure from Governor Newsom. … Continue Reading

Emergency Pandemic Tolling no Excuse for Untimely CEQA Suit; Petitioner’s Attempts to Evade Procedural Dismissal Unsuccessful

In Committee for Sound Water & Land Development v. City of Seaside (2022) 79 Cal.App.5th 389, the Sixth District Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s finding that a CEQA challenge to a proposal to develop a large “Mixed-Use Urban Village” on the former Fort Ord military base (Project) was time-barred. The Court also found … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Declines to Stay Court-Imposed Enrollment Cap at UC Berkeley

On March 3, 2022 the California Supreme Court denied UC Berkeley’s (UC’s) request to stay enforcement of a trial court order capping its enrollment for the upcoming year. The denial is the latest development in ongoing CEQA litigation filed by Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods (SBN) over the UC’s enrollment levels (see TLG’s coverage of related cases … Continue Reading

Approval with Density Bonus Concession Upheld for Residential Tower Adjacent to Balboa Park; Housing Accountability Act Renders Subjective Development Standards Inapplicable

In Bankers Hill 150 v. City of San Diego (2022) 74 Cal.App.5th 755, the Fourth District Court of Appeal considered arguments that a residential development including affordable housing in San Diego (City) was inconsistent with a number of land use plan policies. The Court held that the Density Bonus Law (Gov. Code, § 65915 et seq.) … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds That a Project’s NEPA Analysis Need Not Explain Why Its Impact Significance Conclusions Differ from CEQA Analysis of the Same Project; Dissent Perceives Environmental Racism at Work

In Ctr. for Cmty. Action & Envtl. Justice v. FAA (9th Cir. Nov. 18, 2021, Nos. 20-70272, 20-70464) ___F.3d___ [2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 34541], the 9th Circuit held that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) does not require an agency to explain why its impact conclusions differed from CEQA analysis of the same project, nor is … Continue Reading

Union was Properly Denied Permissive Intervention in Litigation over Environmental Review of Port of Los Angeles Terminal

In South Coast Air Quality Management Dist. v. City of Los Angeles (2021) 71 Cal.App.5th 314, the Second District Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision denying the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Locals 13, 63, and 94 (Union) permissive intervention in CEQA litigation. While the Union alleged that the joined parties would not sufficiently … Continue Reading

AB 819 Expands Requirements for Electronic Filing and Posting of CEQA Notices and Environmental Documents

Effective January 1, 2022, Assembly Bill 819 (AB 819), signed by Governor Newsom earlier this year, imposes expanded requirements on lead agencies when posting CEQA notices and documents. Under the bill, lead agencies must post the following documents and notices to their websites, if they have one: DEIRs, negative declarations, mitigated negative declarations, notices of … Continue Reading

First District Upholds the Constitutionality of the Housing Accountability Act and Overturns City’s Denial of Housing Development

In Cal. Renters Legal Advocacy & Educ. Fund v. City of San Mateo (2021) 68 Cal.App.5th 820, the First District considered an appeal from the denial of a petition that alleged the City of San Mateo (City) improperly denied a housing development under the Housing Accountability Act (HAA). The Court agreed that the denial had violated … Continue Reading

Fifth District Upholds Grant of Petition Challenging Inyo County’s Use of Eminent Domain to Acquire Ownership of Landfill Sites it Leases and Operates Under a Categorical Exemption

In Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power v. County of Inyo (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 1018, the Fifth District considered a challenge to a decision by Inyo County (County) to acquire landfill sites owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) through eminent domain. In the published portion of the opinion, the Court … Continue Reading

In Unpublished Opinion, the Third District Upholds Denial of Attorney Fees in a Matter also Prosecuted by the Attorney General

In the unpublished opinion N. Coast Rivers Alliance v. Westlands Water Dist. (June 28, 2021, No. C092233) [2021 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4220], the Third District Court of Appeal held that a CEQA petitioner had not sufficiently established a nonduplicative, significant contribution to litigation warranting the award of attorney fees in light of the Attorney … Continue Reading

Ione Valley Land, Air, & Water Defense Alliance, LLC v. County of Amador (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 165

Ione Valley Land, Air, & Water Defense Alliance, LLC v. County of Amador (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 165 In 2012, the County of Amador (County) certified a final EIR and approved the Newman Ridge Project, a quarry and related facilities near Ione (Project). The Ione Valley Land, Air, and Water Defense Alliance (LAWDA) filed a petition for … Continue Reading

Lake Norconian Club Foundation v. Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 39 Cal. App. 5th 1044

Lake Norconian Club Foundation v. Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 39 Cal. App. 5th 1044 The California Department of Corrections (Department) operates a prison next to the historic Lake Norconian Club, a former resort and hotel constructed in the 1920’s. The Department used the building as a drug rehabilitation facility, and later, as prison administrative … Continue Reading