The Third District Court of Appeal published an important new case on September 16, 2020—Parkford Owners for a Better Community v. County of Placer, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. C087824)—holding that a project opponent’s challenge to the expansion of a development project was moot given that construction was nearly complete. The case distinguishes other leading cases addressing “mootness” in the land use and CEQA context and provides important insights for those involved in the development process.
On August 17, 2020, in Martis Camp Community Association v. County of Placer, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case Nos. C087759 and C087778), the Third District Court of Appeal addressed several novel legal claims arising from the County of Placer’s partial abandonment of public easement rights in a road connecting two adjacent residential subdivisions near Lake Tahoe.
On August 5, 2020, in Granny Purps, Inc. v. County of Santa Cruz, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. H045387), the Sixth District Court of Appeal addressed several novel property rights issues related to a law enforcement action in the County of Santa Cruz in which officers seized more than 2,000 marijuana plants from a medical marijuana dispensary for violating a local ordinance restricting marijuana cultivation to no more than 99 plants.
California’s statues of limitations in land use cases are notoriously short and harsh and don’t often result in outcomes favorable to aggrieved applicants. Exceptions such as Honchariw v. County of Stanislaus, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. F077815) (i.e., Honchariw IV), are thus notable and worth remembering.
Every once in a while a case comes along that calls to mind the adage that “just because you can think it doesn’t mean you should say it.” The Second District Court of Appeal’s July 30, 2020 eminent domain decision in Rutgard v. City of Los Angeles, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. B297655) is one of those cases.
In a new case published on June 8, 2020, North Murrieta Community, LLC v. City of Murrieta, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. E072663), the Fourth District Court of Appeal addressed novel vested rights issues arising under both the Subdivision Map Act (Gov. Code § 66410 et seq.) and the density bonus law (Gov. Code § 65864 et seq.). Both statutes essentially establish that when a local agency approves a vesting tentative map or enters a development agreement the developer is entitled to proceed on the project under the local laws in effect the time of the approval.
In an important new case certified for publication on May 8, 2020, Petrovich Development Company, LLC v. City of Sacramento, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. C087283), the Third District Court of Appeal addressed the constitutional due process restraints imposed on city council members, who are normally policymakers and voices of their constituents except when they act in a quasi-judicial capacity as adjudicators of matters on appeal from an administrative body.
Construction projects of every type in six Bay area counties—Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara—may resume operations on Monday, May 4, after health officers in six counties issued new shelter-in-place orders on April 29. While the new orders ease the rules in numerous ways, including certain outdoor businesses and recreation such as golf and tennis, Governor Newsom is poised to shut down California’s beaches effective Friday, May 1 after crowds defied orders in the face of a brief heat wave last weekend.
On April 14, 2020, the Alameda County Public Health Department issued a letter to the Oakland Planning & Building Department criticizing the City’s interpretation of the County’s March 31 “shelter-in-place” order. Like the orders in the other Bay area counties, the stated intent of Alameda’s shelter-in-place order is to have people shelter in their residences to slow the spread of COVID-19. To that end, the order allows people to leave their residences only for specified Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, Essential Travel, to work for Essential Businesses, or to perform Minimum Basic Operations for non-essential businesses. The order identifies eight types of construction as “Essential Businesses,” including “affordable housing” that contains at least 10% income-restricted units.
Without a single mention of the U.S. or California constitutions, the San Francisco city attorney’s office issued an April 13, 2020 memo declaring that the City may “take any measure necessary to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.”