Articles Posted in California Court of Appeal

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Plaintiff-appellant Residents Against Specific Plan 380 appealed the denial of its petition for a writ of mandate to challenge the County of Riverside’s (County) to approve development of a master-planned community put forward as Specific Plan 380 by real party in interest, Hanna Marital Trust. The County commissioned an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project, which determined all potentially significant environmental impacts except noise and air quality impacts would have been reduced below the level of significance after mitigation. The final EIR responded to public comments on a draft EIR requesting further mitigation before the County approved the project. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors requested modifications of the plan before approving it and determined the changes did not require revision and recirculation of the EIR. After the revisions were codified, the Board of Supervisors certified the final EIR and approved the plan. The County then posted a public notice of its determination which included a description of the project containing errors about certain project details. Appellant sought a writ of mandate asserting the County failed to comply with procedural, informational, and substantive provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The trial court denied the petition in its entirety and entered judgment in favor of the County and the Hanna Marital Trust. On appeal, appellant argued the County: (1) substantially modified the project after approving it; (2) approved the project without concurrently adopting findings, a statement of overriding consideration, and a mitigation plan; (3) failed to recirculate the final EIR after modifying the project; (4) certified the final EIR despite inadequately analyzing the impacts of the development of the mixed use planning area; (5) issued an erroneous and misleading notice of determination after approving the project; and (6) failed to adopt all feasible mitigation alternatives proposed in comments on the draft EIR. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Residents Against Specific Plan 380 v. Co. of Riverside" on Justia Law

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The Townhouse Motel in Crescent City first became a subject of code enforcement efforts in 2006. Until 2013, the city repeatedly ordered Reddy to abate dangerous conditions. In 2013, following an inspection, the city issued a Notice and Order to Repair or Abate listing 76 building code violations and other illegal conditions and ordering Reddy to rehabilitate the property within 30 days. A subsequent inspection found that Reddy had not made the required repairs. The city filed suit. The court entered a stipulated judgment requiring Reddy to upgrade the property within six months and to cease renting rooms to the same occupant for more than 30 days. Nearly a year later, the city inspected and found little or no improvement. The inspectors concluded that “conditions on the [property] pose a substantial danger to the life, limb, health, and safety of the occupants of the motel, the residents of the surrounding community, and the public in general.” In October 2014, the city successfully moved for the appointment of a receiver to oversee the property’s rehabilitation. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting arguments that the trial court erred in overruling Reddy’s objections to the city’s evidentiary submissions and in failing to take live testimony. View "City of Crescent City v. Reddy" on Justia Law

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Government Code section 53094(b) authorizes “the governing board of a school district” to “render a city or county zoning ordinance inapplicable to a proposed use of property by the school district,” under certain circumstances. The Santa Clara County Board of Education approved a resolution exempting from local zoning ordinances property to be used by Rocketship Education for a charter school. The San Jose Unified School District argued that county boards of education have no authority to issue section 53094 zoning exemptions and successfully sought a writ of mandate to set aside the resolution. The court of appeal affirmed, finding that section 53094 does not authorize county boards of education to issue zoning exemptions for charter schools. Empowering county boards to issue zoning exemptions for charter schools would not advance the purpose of section 53094—preventing local interference with the state’s sovereign activities. While county boards are authorized to issue charters and oversee charter schools, local school districts are obligated to provide facilities to charter schools. (Educ. Code, 47614(b).) The state has not tasked county boards with acquiring sites for charter schools; to the extent they do so, they are not carrying out a sovereign activity on behalf of the state. View "San Jose Unified School District v. Santa Clara County Office of Education" on Justia Law

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In "Property Reserve, Inc. v. Superior Court," (1 Cal.5th 151 (Property Reserve I- 2016)), the California Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeals decision and remanded the matter for the appellate court to consider issues not addressed. The Department of Water Resources petitioned the trial court for orders authorizing it to enter onto various properties to conduct precondemnation studies and surveys. Before the trial court convened a hearing on the matter, the landowners requested to conduct discovery. The trial court denied the request, ruling the proceeding was exempt from discovery. The landowners also objected to the Department not naming allegedly indispensable parties. The trial court held the rules governing indispensable parties did not apply to this matter, but it ordered the parties to notify all the persons and entities the landowners claimed were indispensable parties. The landowners both petitioned for writ relief against, and appealed the trial court’s award of an entry order, challenging the constitutionality of the precondemnation entry statutes and attacking the court’s decisions to deny discovery and not order the joinder of indispensable parties. "Property Reserve I" resolved the constitutional issues, but the high court directed the Court of Appeal to address the landowners’ claims against the trial court’s rulings on discovery and indispensable parties. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred in holding the proceeding was exempt from discovery, but the Court also found the landowners did not show prejudicial error. The Court also concluded the landowners’ contention regarding indispensable parties was moot, because the trial court gave the landowners all of the relief they sought and which the Court could have provided. View "Property Reserve, Inc. v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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At issue in this matter was a development by Sunroad Enterprises and Sunroad Centrum Partners L.P. (together, Sunroad) of an office, residential, and retail project in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Since 1997 the City of San Diego (the City) Council has approved the area for development under a master plan and over the ensuing years has thrice assessed the project for environmental impacts as required by CEQA. In 2012, Sunroad obtained a permit from the City to begin certain phases of residential development, including constructing several multilevel buildings over parking and ground level retail space. By the next year, Sunroad modified its design plans, ostensibly to meet real estate market demands, and sought the City's approval of the modified plans through a process known as substantial conformance review (SCR). The City's staff found that the modified plans substantially conformed with the conditions and requirements of the previously issued development permit and there was no need for further environmental impact documentation under CEQA. San Diegans for Open Government and CREED-21 (together, plaintiffs) appealed the staff's decision to the City Planning Commission. Following a public hearing, the Planning Commission voted to uphold the SCR decision. The City denied plaintiffs' appeal to the City Council. Plaintiffs argued they were entitled to appeal the SCR decision to the City Council under CEQA and the San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC). The Court of Appeal disagreed and affirmed the judgment. View "San Diegans for Open Govt. v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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The proposed construction includes a 488,000-square-foot arena for the Golden State Warriors basketball team and other events, plus two 11-story office and retail buildings, parking, and 3.2 acres of open space, on 11 acres in San Francisco’s Mission Bay South redevelopment plan area. The site is an underutilized industrial area. Planning for the area began decades ago. A 1998 environmental impact report (EIR) incorporated information from a 1990 EIR. In 2015, the Governor certified the current project as an “environmental leadership development project” under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code 21000), requiring expedited review. The 2015 EIR was tiered to the 1998 FSEIR. The lead agency found that the project would have significant, unavoidable effects on the environment, adopted a statement of overriding considerations, and authorized implementation of a “mitigation monitoring and reporting program.” The city rejected a challenge by citizens’ groups, approved certification of the EIR, adopted the CEQA findings, and approved the project. The court of appeal affirmed. Although some analysis of potential environmental impacts might have been expanded, the record generally reflects a thorough study of all environmental impacts to be anticipated that were not considered in the 1998 report and identifies mitigation measures to lessen adverse impacts to the extent feasible. View "Mission Bay Alliance v. Office of Community Investment & Infrastructure" on Justia Law

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Brookside filed suit against the City alleging that the City Council's actions in proposing and advocating repeal of a 1990 ordinance - that prohibited the El Monte City Council from passing any form of mobilehome park rent control - violated an express prohibition of such activity in that ordinance. The superior court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that the trial court properly granted summary judgment for the City. The court rejected Brookside's arguments concerning the scope of the prohibitory language in the 1990 ordinance and arguments that the City Council’s actions violated the California Constitution’s implicit withholding of authority for a local government to propose initiative measures that amend or repeal earlier voter-approved ordinances. View "Brookside Investments v. City of El Monte" on Justia Law

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Real-Party-in-Interest Encore McKinley Village, LLC (Encore) proposed to construct the McKinley Village Project (the Project). The City of Sacramento certified the Project’s environmental impact report (EIR) and approved the Project. East Sacramento Partnership for a Livable City (ESPLC), a neighborhood group, appeals from denial of its petition for a writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief to set aside the City’s approval of the Project. ESPLC contended the City violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved the Project because: (1) the Project description is defective; (2) there was illegal piecemealing; (3) the EIR failed to analyze significant health risks; (4) the EIR ignored significant traffic impacts; and (5) the EIR failed to disclose or mitigate methane migration. Further, ESPLC contends the Project was inconsistent with the City’s general plan. After review, the Court of Appeals found merit in only the fourth contention. ESPLC challenged the threshold of significance used in the EIR to determine whether traffic impacts were significant; the City relied on policies in its general plan that permitted congested traffic conditions within the core area of the City, thus finding no significant impact of congested traffic on neighborhood streets. The Court held that compliance with a general plan policy did not conclusively establish there was no significant environmental impact, and the City failed to explain why it found none in this circumstance. The Court reversed the judgment and remanded for the City to correct this deficiency in the EIR. View "East Sacramento Partnership v. City of Sacramento" on Justia Law

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The City proposed to finance road improvement projects through a public benefit corporation and pay the debt from revenues held in special funds, and filed an action seeking validation of this finance plan under Government Code section 53511 and Code of Civil Procedure section 860 et seq. West Park opposed the plan and challenged the trial court's judgment validating the City's proposed plan. The court concluded that the City’s finance plan does not violate the California Constitution’s debt limitation where a reasonable nexus exists between the revenues and the projects that will be financed by those revenues. The court concluded, however, that the City cannot pledge gas tax revenues to make the installment payments. In this case, the City's gas tax revenues will be used to pay non-voter approved bonds. This is an impermissible use of these funds. Accordingly, the court reversed as to the portion of the judgment validating the use of the state gas tax revenues and affirmed as to the remainder of the judgment. View "City of Bakersfield v. West Park Home Owners Ass'n & Friends" on Justia Law

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The Outdoor Advertising Act, Bus. & Prof. Code, 5200 et seq., regulates advertising displays adjacent to interstate or primary highways in California. Plaintiffs obtained an outdoor advertising permit from Caltrans and began leasing out a billboard for general commercial advertising. The primary issue on appeal is whether section 5270 precludes application of county or city billboard ordinances with respect to a billboard that was placed in an area that was unincorporated at the time of its placement. The court agreed with the trial court's conclusion that in light of the entire statutory scheme, section 5270 does not preempt county- or city-enacted limitations on billboards in unincorporated areas that are stricter than the limitations set forth in the Act. The court also concluded that the trial court correctly found the billboard at issue was illegal because it was not lawfully erected in 1987 under the Los Angeles County Code, and therefore is prohibited under the Santa Clarita Municipal Code; plaintiffs failed to raise a disputed issue of fact regarding estoppel or laches; and the award of attorney fees was allowed under the statutes. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment in favor of the City. View "D'Egidio v. City of Santa Clarita" on Justia Law