The Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) has developed a new CEQA reference website designed to provide detailed, authoritative, and easy to understand information on CEQA and CEQA compliance.  While the site went live in April 2016, it is still in the process of development; it can be accessed by going to www.califaep.org and clicking on the CEQA Portal logo.

Continue Reading

Almost five years ago, in September 2011, Miller Starr Regalia launched its first blog, CEQA Developments (www.ceqadevelopments.com), to highlight the firm’s experience and provide an up-to-date resource in the area of CEQA law.  As readers and CEQA practitioners can attest, there has been no shortage of “CEQA developments” to analyze and report on over the years, and I fully expect that trend to continue.

At the same time, and while CEQA and land use law go together like “hand and glove,” there have always been and continue to be a great many interesting and important non-CEQA land use developments under distinct laws and legal schemes – including, but not limited to, the Planning and Zoning Law, the Subdivision Map Act, the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, the Elections Code, the Mitigation Fee Act, and the Eminent Domain Law, as well as the Federal and State constitutional provisions prohibiting the taking or damaging of property without payment of just compensation. The firm’s Land Use Practice Group has deep experience and expertise entitling and defending a wide range of development projects, implicating numerous areas of land use law, throughout the state.


Continue Reading

In the second of two published opinions filed May 10, 2016, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment upholding the lead agency designation and EIR for a controversial project proposing to pump 50,000 acre-feet annually for a 50-year period from an aquifer underlying Cadiz, Inc.’s Mojave Desert property in San Bernardino County.  Center For Biological Diversity, et al. v. County of San Bernardino, et al., (4th Dist., Div. 3, 2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 326, Case No. G051058.  (For my post covering the Court’s related published opinion, see “Fourth District Rejects CEQA Challenges To Large Mojave Desert Groundwater Pumping Project In Separate Published Opinions,” by Arthur F. Coon, posted May 11, 2016.)
Continue Reading

In two opinions filed May 10, 2016 (one partially and the other fully published), the Fourth District Court of Appeal rejected a number of CEQA and other challenges to a project proposing to pump 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year for a 50-year period from a Mojave Desert aquifer in the County of San Bernardino (“Project”).  The Project – proposed by a “public-private partnership” between lead agency Santa Margarita Water District (“SMWG”) and the overlying landowner, Cadiz, Inc. (“Cadiz”) – seeks to beneficially use and prevent the loss of groundwater, some portion of which would otherwise drain to two dry lakes where it would evaporate or become unpotable brine.  The fresh water pumped from the aquifer would be conveyed through 43 miles of underground pipeline to the Colorado River Aqueduct, which would then transport it to supply a number of Southern California Water agencies and users.

Continue Reading

The State Bar is holding its 35th Annual Real Property Law Section Retreat on May 20-22, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa, and registration is now open on the Bar’s website. My partner Matt Henderson, a member of the Section’s Executive Committee, will be moderating what promises to be the lively discussion of a panel entitled “The California Supreme Court: Reforming CEQA From The Bench,” at 8 a.m. on May 21. The attorney panelists include Andrew Sabey of Cox Castle & Nicholson, Thomas Henry of Stoel Rives, and myself.
Continue Reading

In a published opinion filed March 25, 2016, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment denying a writ petition that challenged a 2013 ordinance of the City of Upland which expressly prohibited mobile marijuana dispensaries within the City. Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of Upland (4th Dist., Div. 1, 2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 1265, 2016 WL 1169302, Case No. D069293.  Because the ordinance merely restated a ban already in effect under an existing 2007 ordinance that was never challenged under CEQA, it lacked the potential to cause direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical changes in the environment and was therefore not a “project” subject to CEQA.

Continue Reading

In a March 4, 2016 published opinion, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment requiring an EIR for a small 12-home rural subdivision project based on the “psychological and social” impacts of the proponent’s related closure of a public horse boarding facility (the “Stock Farm”) which he had operated pursuant to a CUP for 20 years on the 11.6-acre property.  Preserve Poway v. City of Poway (Harry A. Rogers, et al., Real Parties in Interest) (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 560, 2016 WL 891405.  In addition to its primary holding that psychological, social and economic impacts are not cognizable under CEQA, the Court rendered a few other interesting rulings, including its application of the Supreme Court’s recent “CEQA-in-reverse” decision (California Building Industry Ass. v. Bay Area Air Quality Management Dist. (2015) 62 Cal.4th 369 (“CBIA”)) in holding that asserted impacts of an existing equestrian events facility (located across the street from the project) on future project residents were also beyond CEQA’s scope.

Continue Reading

With the February 13 passing of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, American jurisprudence lost an intellectual giant. But Justice Scalia will not be forgotten; the legacy of his life’s work lives on.

While much has been and will be written about his landmark opinions and the originalist and textualist methods of constitutional and statutory interpretation he brought to bear in them, Justice Scalia’s significant legal contributions to CEQA, land use and environmental law merit special recognition.


Continue Reading

CEQA and land use law in California go together like a hand in a glove. Due to CEQA’s broad scope and exacting substantive and procedural requirements, it is relatively easy to plead a cause of action for CEQA violations in most instances where land use approvals or entitlements for a development project are challenged.  CEQA claims thus play a prominent, and often leading, role as petitioners’ litigation “weapon of choice” in most such land use disputes.
Continue Reading

On October 2, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (“CDFW”) entered into a 12-page “agree[ment] to work with each other to conserve biological and natural resources on federal public lands administered by the BLM within California.” (10/2/15 Agreement By And Between The United States Bureau Of Land Management And The California Department Of Fish And Wildlife (“Agreement”), at p. 1.)  The Agreement states it was developed “for the purpose of memorializing and making specific [the agencies’] cooperation and coordination to protect and conserve fish, wildlife, plants and their habitat within California” and that it “supplements” an earlier, November 27, 2012 MOU between BLM and CDFW.  (Ibid.)
Continue Reading