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Court Finds Bumble Bees Fit within Statutory Definition of a “Fish;” All Invertebrates Eligible for Listing under California Endangered Species Act

In Almond Alliance of California v. Fish & Game Com. (2022) 79 Cal.App.5th 337, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) did not exceed its statutory authority under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) when the Commission designated four bumble bee species as candidate species for consideration under … Continue Reading

Fourth District Court of Appeal finds Class 32 Exemption’s Massing Criterion Based on Project Size, not Site Size; Rejects Applicability of the Unusual Circumstances Exception

In Protect Tustin Ranch v. City of Tustin (2021) 70 Cal.App.5th 951, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s determination that the Class 32 infill categorical exemption was properly applied to a project which would redevelop a portion of a shopping center in the City of Tustin (City) and rejected the application … Continue Reading

Fifth District Court of Appeal Finds Petitioner Failed to Exhaust Remedies in CUP Approval Challenge, Despite Ambiguous Administrative Appeal Procedures

In Muskan Foods & Fuel v. City of Fresno (2021) (Sep. 27, 2021, No. F079342) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2021 Cal. App. LEXIS 793], the Fifth District Court of Appeal held that Muskan Foods (Petitioner) failed to exhaust their available administrative appeals to challenge the approval of a competing development, despite an acknowledged ambiguity in the City of … Continue Reading

Fourth District Court of Appeal Rejects Mahon Interpretation of the Streamlining Act Notice Requirements

In Linovitz Capo Shores LLC v. California Coastal Commission (2021) 65 Cal. App. 5th 1106, the Fourth District Court of Appeal found that the California Coastal Commission’s (Commission) failure to act on a series of mobilehome renovation permits constituted an approval under the Permit Streamlining Act, despite the fact the Commission’s notice did not specify … Continue Reading

Sixth District Court of Appeal Upholds Adoption of Environmentally Superior Alternative Project Including Reduced Percentage of Affordable Housing

In Carmel Valley Ass’n v. County of Monterey (2021) 2021 Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 3286, the Sixth District Court of Appeal reversed a decision granting a petition of mandate against the County of Monterey’s (County) approval of an environmentally superior alternative to a proposed mixed-use residential subdivision project (Project). The decision was issued on May 19, 2021, … Continue Reading

Second District Court of Appeal Upholds $750,000 in Attorney Fees and Costs Following Partial CEQA Victory

In Bldg. A Better Redondo v. City of Redondo Beach (2021) 2021 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1038, the Second District Court of Appeal upheld an $80,000 costs and $683,000 attorney fee award, following a partially successful CEQA challenge. The Court rejected ten challenges to the award (bulleted below) including challenges to the $650/hour rate, fees … Continue Reading

First District Court of Appeal Finds University of California’s Decision to Increase Enrollment Is Not Exempt from CEQA Review

In Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods v. Regents of the University of California (2020) 51 Cal. App. 5th 226, the First District Court of Appeal overruled a demurrer rejecting community members’ allegations that the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) violated CEQA by failing to analyze enrollment increases beyond the development envelope considered in the campus … Continue Reading

Second District Court of Appeal Upholds Challenge to an MND for a Mixed-Use Project on Environmentally Sensitive Hillside and Award of Attorney Fees

In Save the Agoura Cornell Knoll v. City of Agoura Hills (February 24, 2020) 2020 Cal. App. LEXIS 222, in a detailed decision, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgement and concluded that a proposed mixed-use development project in Los Angeles County presented potentially significant impacts requiring the preparation of an … Continue Reading

Sacramentans for Fair Planning v. City of Sacramento (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 698, 704.

Sacramentans for Fair Planning v. City of Sacramento (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 698, 704. The Yamanee project, a 10-story mixed-use condominium development in Midtown Sacramento, (Project) exceeded both the density and height limits of its parcel’s zone. A Sacramento General Plan provision allows the City Council to authorize projects at densities higher than the applicable zoning if … Continue Reading

Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Conservation, etc. (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 210

Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Conservation, etc. (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 210 The Legislature passed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) in 2013, requiring the Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (Department) to study the environmental effects of fracking and other types of oil and gas well stimulation in California. Specifically, the … Continue Reading

Hollywoodians Encouraging Rental Opportunities v. City of Los Angeles (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 768, 772-773.

Hollywoodians Encouraging Rental Opportunities v. City of Los Angeles (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 768, 772-773. The owner of an occupied, 18-unit rent-stabilized apartment building sought to demolish and replace the structure with a condominium project. After the City adopted a mitigated negative declaration finding that the project would not have a significant effect on the environment, the … Continue Reading

Stopthemillenniumhollywood.com v. City of Los Angeles (2019) 39 Cal. App. 5th 1

Stopthemillenniumhollywood.com v. City of Los Angeles (2019) 39 Cal. App. 5th 1 Millennium Hollywood LLC, the City of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles City Council (Appellants) challenged a trial court holding that a proposed four-and-a-half-acre mixed-use development failed to comply with the requirements of CEQA. Millennium filed a master land use permit with the City’s … Continue Reading

South of Market Community Action Network v. City and County of San Francisco (2019) 33 Cal. App. 5th 321

South of Market Community Action Network v. City and County of San Francisco (2019) 33 Cal. App. 5th 321 In 2014, Forest City California Residential Development, Inc. proposed a mixed-use business and residential project known as “5M” in the area bounded by Mission, Fifth, Howard, and Sixth Streets in San Francisco. The 5M site included … Continue Reading

Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma (2019) Cal.App.5th 1007

Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma (2019) Cal.App.5th 1007 In 2015, Knight Bridge Vineyards LLC sought approval from the County of Sonoma to develop a two-story, 5,500 square foot winery, a 17,500 square foot wine cave, tasting room, wastewater treatment and water storage facility, fire protection facility, and mechanical area on an 86-acre parcel … Continue Reading

Third District Holds City’s Explanation and Substantial Evidence Supported Traffic Impact Conclusion, Discharge of Writ of Mandate Proper

In reviewing whether the City of Sacramento complied with a peremptory writ of mandate issued by the Sacramento Superior Court (East Sacramento Partnership for a Livable City v. City of Sacramento (2016) 5Cal.App.5th 281 (ESPLC I)), the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the City had explained and provided substantial evidence supporting both its … Continue Reading

SB 50 “Equitable Communities Incentive” Would Exempt Affordable Housing Developments in “Job-Rich” and “Transit-Rich” Areas from Certain Zoning Standards

California State Senator Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco) has introduced Senate Bill 50, the More Housing Opportunity, Mobility, Equity, and Stability (“HOMES”) Act, which establishes the “equitable communities incentive.” This incentive would allow developers to bypass certain local zoning restrictions when building multi-family units that are near transit or employment opportunities in exchange for allocating a … Continue Reading

County General Plan EIR Need Only Address “Reasonably Foreseeable Development” Outside the Planning Area, Population Reports in the Record Showed Possible Subdivision Unlikely

In High Sierra Rural Alliance v. County of Plumas (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 102, the Third District Court of Appeal held a general plan update and EIR were valid where evidence in the record supported the County of Plumas’ (County) determination that there was no “reasonably foreseeable development” outside the planning area. The Court also held … Continue Reading

Third District Echoes Pocket Protectors, Holds “Large Number” of Public Comments on Nontechnical Aesthetic Impacts Support Fair Argument

In Georgetown Preservation Society v. County of El Dorado (2018) 2018 Cal.App.LEXIS 1167, the Third District Court of Appeal held that conformity with the general plan does not insulate a project from CEQA review. Where a“large number” of public comments objected to the project for “nontechnical” aesthetic issues, there was a fair argument that the … Continue Reading

Sixth District Finds “Substance and Effect” of “Preemptory Writ of Mandate” Decision A Final Judgment for Purposes of CEQA Appeal

In Alliance of Concerned Citizens Organized for Responsible Development v. City of San Juan Bautista, (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 424, the Sixth District Court of Appeal held that the “substance and effect” of a decision labeled by the trial court as a preemptory writ of mandate nonetheless constituted a final judgment. The City of San Juan … Continue Reading

OPR Accepts Comments on General Plan Guidelines Environmental Justice Chapter

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research is accepting comments on a revised Environmental Justice Chapter in the General Plan Guidelines until Thursday, December 20. Senate Bill 1000, proposed by California State Senator Connie Leyva (D –Chino), requires that local jurisdictions with disadvantaged communities incorporate an environmental justice element into their General Plan or, in … Continue Reading

Thomas Law Group Receives “High 5 Award” at First 5 Sacramento 20th Anniversary Event

Thomas Law Group is honored to accept the High 5 Award at the Rise Up Sacramento event on January 8, 2019 at the Golden 1 Center’s Assembly Lounge. This award, granted on behalf of First 5 Sacramento and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, recognizes a business that incorporates family-friendly policies into the workplace. Hope to see … Continue Reading

Tina Thomas Hosts CEQA 2018: A Year In Review Panel at 33rd Annual Land Use Law and Planning Conference

On Friday, January 18, 2019 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Thomas Law Group founder Tina Thomas will host the panel CEQA 2018: A Year in Review as part of UCLA Extension’s 33rd Annual Land Use Law and Planning Conference.  The conference it presented by UCLA Extension’s Public Policy Program. It focuses on providing … Continue Reading

Public Interest Standing Not Automatically Precluded by Commercial Interest, Private Attorney General Doctrine Fee Award Upheld

In Citizens for Amending Proposition L. v. City of Pomona, (2018) Cal.App.LEXIS 1014, the Second District Court of Appeal held an attorneys’ fees award, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, was appropriate where a residents’ group’s action to enforce a voter-approved proposition prohibiting additional billboards in the City of Pomona (City) had standing … Continue Reading

City Charter Must Explicitly Limit Municipal Power to Approve General Plan Amendment of Single Parcel Initiated with Project Proposal, Los Angeles Auto Mall Conversion Project Valid

In Westsiders Opposed to Overdevelopment v. City of Los Angeles (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 1079, the Second District Court of Appeal held that a charter city may approve a general plan amendment for a single project site, even if initially requested by a project applicant, so long as the city’s charter did not “clearly and explicitly” … Continue Reading
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