Category: Procedural Issues

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Exhausting Administrative Remedies Does Not Toll the Statute of Limitations When the CEQA Determination Is Not at Issue

Effective January 1, 2023, Thomas Law Group (TLG) will merge with Downey Brand. We are thrilled to welcome the TLG team to CEQA Chronicles and look forward to sharing their updates on important CEQA developments, new case law, legislation, and guidance. In American Chemistry Council v. Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (Nov. 18, 2022, F082604) __Cal.App.4th__ [2022 … 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

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

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

Approval of Initial Entitlement Triggers CEQA Statute of Limitations, Even Where Project Requires Additional Entitlements for Implementation

In the partially published Crenshaw Subway Coalition v. City of Los Angeles (2022) 75 Cal.App.5th 917, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment dismissing the claims of Crenshaw Subway Coalition (Coalition) alleging that the City of Los Angeles and the City Council (collectively, City), represented by the Thomas Law Group on the … 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 of Mixed-Use Development Found Consistent with General Plan, Other Planning Documents – Court Upholds Project’s Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment

In Old E. Davis Neighborhood Assn v. City of Davis (Dec. 20, 2021, C090117) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2021 Cal. App. LEXIS 1114], the Third District Court of Appeal upheld the City of Davis’s (City) determination that a proposed mixed-use development project (Project) was consistent with the City’s General Plan (GP). The Court held that the City’s approval … Continue Reading

Strawberry Fields Forever – Coastal Commission Failed to Complete Environmental Review Before Project’s Approval Under Certified Regulatory Program and Engaged in Post Hoc Analysis

In Friends v. Cal. Coastal Commission (Nov. 15, 2021, H048088, H04809) __ Cal.App.5th __ [2021 Cal.App. LEXIS 1038], the Sixth District Court of Appeal found that the California Coastal Commission (Coastal Commission) violated CEQA by approving a coastal development permit without making specific findings about project alternatives and mitigation measures pursuant to the Coastal Commission’s … Continue Reading

Fourth District Finds City of San Diego Properly Summarized Revisions Made to Previous EIR in Recirculated EIR – City’s Decision to Build Road, Amend Planning Documents Were Quasi-Legislative Acts That Did Not Violate Any Procedural Rights to Due Process

In Save Civita Because Sudberry Won’t v. City of San Diego (Dec. 16, 2021, D077591) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2021 Cal.App. LEXIS 1055], the Fourth District Court of Appeal addressed CEQA and Constitutional claims related to a proposed roadway in the City of San Diego (City). In the published portion of the opinion, the Court held that the City … 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

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

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

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

Fourth District Finds Failure to Evaluate Consistency with CAP Rendered MND Incomplete Despite no Fair Argument of Inconsistency; Rejects Piecemealing, Project Description, and Aesthetic Impacts Claims, and Others as Barred by a Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

In McCann v. City of San Diego (2021) 70 Cal.App.5th 51, the Fourth District Court of Appeal found that the Plaintiff, Margaret McCann (McCann), was barred from bringing a judicial action challenging the City’s approval of projects for undergrounding utility lines because she failed to exhaust the City of San Diego’s (City’s) administrative appeal process.  … 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

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

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

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

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

Petition by Collective Citizens Groups Barred by Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel Where Individual Group Received Previous Final Judgement on Same Project Issues

In The Inland Oversight Committee v. City of San Bernardino (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 771, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgement entered by the trial court sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend, holding that a mandate action brought by The Inland Oversight Committee (IOC), CREED-21, and the Highland Hills Homeowners Association (HOA) alleging CEQA … Continue Reading

SIXTH APPELLATE DISTRICT REJECTS CEQA AND PARK ACT CHALLENGES TO SALE OF PUBLIC ACTIVITY CENTER

In an unpublished opinion, Save Sunnyvale Parks & Schools v. City of Sunnyvale, 2016 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1146, the Sixth Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s ruling and rejected challenges to the City’s approval of the sale of the Raynor Activity Center (“RAC”) to Stratford Schools, a private school. The City had previously declared … Continue Reading

“No one ever said it was easy to build a project in San Francisco”

On September 17, 2015, the California First District Court of Appeal struck another blow to the beleaguered 8 Washington Street Project in Defend Our Waterfront v. California State Lands Commission, 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 817, when it upheld the trial court’s ruling that a necessary land transfer between the State Lands Commission and the City … Continue Reading

Supplement to 16 year old EIR is Acceptable, Project Proponents Need Not Address Every Comment Following Public Review.

In City of Irvine v. County of Orange, (July 6, 2015, G049527)__Cal.App.4th__, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the adequacy of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) prepared approximately 16 years after the original EIR was adopted. The court granted publication on July 7, 2015. The dispute began in 1996 when the City of … Continue Reading
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