After 12 arduous years, the 315-unit Terraces of Lafayette apartment project is finally clear to be constructed now that the California Supreme Court rejected Save Lafayette’s request for review. The Court also rejected Save Lafayette’s request that the California Supreme Court depublish the Court of Appeal’s unanimous opinion affirming the Contra Costa Superior Court’s ruling that the City of Lafayette validly complied with both the Housing Accountability Act and the California Environmental Quality Act in finally approving the project.Continue Reading Epic Battle over Lafayette Housing Project Finally Ends as California Supreme Court Refuses to Review Unanimous Court of Appeal Opinion Upholding Project Approvals
On January 26, 2023, in Save Livermore Downtown v. City of Livermore, __Cal.App.5th __ (2021) (Case No. A164987), the First District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court decision rejecting a local NIMBY group’s challenge to an affordable housing project in downtown Livermore on the grounds that the project is inconsistent with state and local planning and zoning laws and that the project was not exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act. The Court also affirmed the trial court’s decision to require the NIMBY group to post a bond as security for costs and damages the developer would incur as a result of litigation-related project delays.Continue Reading Court Rejects Meritless Challenge to Livermore Affordable Housing Project
The Terraces of Lafayette is a 315-unit housing development project in Lafayette, California that is perhaps the poster child project under the state’s most important housing production law, known as the Housing Accountability Act (Gov. Code 65589.5’ “HAA”). The project gave rise to the YIMBY movement and the notion of “suing the suburbs.” Intensely opposed for years by an uncompromising local NIMBY group known as Save Lafayette, as well as by a longtime member of Save Lafayette who ran for office to oppose the project and became a councilmember in 2018, the project has been referred to in the press as many things, including “the project that started a housing war.” The project has also twice been a direct catalyst for additional legislative strengthening of the HAA (see Senate Bills 167 and 330). Miller Starr Regalia represented the developer, O’Brien Land Company, in the entitlement and litigation process and on November 30, 2022, two weeks after oral argument, prevailed in a landmark decision, Save Lafayette v. City of Lafayette, __Cal.App.5th __ (2021) (Case No. A164394), rejecting all of Save Lafayette’s claims attempting to thwart the project.
Continue Reading Miller Starr Regalia Prevails in Landmark Housing Accountability Act Case
California is in the midst of the 6th Regional Housing Needs Allocation cycle known as RHNA, a state-mandated process that requires all cities and counties to timely update the housing elements of their general plans to plan for their fair share of California’s housing needs to people of all income levels. Many cities have failed to timely adopt an updated housing elements in substantial compliance with state housing element law and more are expected to follow, giving rise to the viable use of the colloquially-named “Builder’s Remedy” in the Housing Accountability Act.
Continue Reading “Builder’s Remedy” Provides Key Housing Production Opportunities in California
In late 2020, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the creation of a “Housing Strike Force” within the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to enforce state housing laws by beginning to put teeth into often-ignored laws that restrict local authority over new housing development.
Continue Reading California Attorney General Continues to Enforce State Housing Laws
On February 2, 2022, in Bankers Hill 150 v. City of San Diego, __ Cal.App.5th __ (Case No. D077963), the Fourth District Court of Appeal relied on fundamental provisions of California’s Density Bonus Law in rejecting a challenge by local NIMBY’s to a 20-story mixed-use project in San Diego on the grounds that the project is inconsistent with the neighborhood because it is too dense, too tall, and too close to the street. The Court recognized that the NIMBY group sidestepped the implications of the Density Bonus Law, which shapes and limits a city’s discretion in reviewing a project.
Continue Reading State Housing Law Again Preempts Subjective Local Development Standards
On January 12, 2022, in Old East Davis Neighborhood Association v. City of Davis, __ Cal.App.5th __ (Case No. C090117), the Third District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court decision that granted a writ petition in favor of project opponents on the basis that the record did not support the City’s decision. In so doing, the Court applied a deferential standard of review and affirmed the City’s general plan consistency determination, holding that the decision was not unreasonable and that substantial evidence supported approval of a mixed-use project.
Continue Reading Court Affirms City’s Determination That Substantial Evidence Supports Approval of Mixed-Use Development Project
In a recent opinion certified for publication on December 18, 2019, Citizens for Positive Growth & Preservation v. City of Sacramento, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2019), the Third District Court of Appeal rejected a citizens group’s challenge under California’s Planning and Zoning Law and CEQA to the City of Sacramento’s recently updated 2035 General Plan. The group contended that a single sentence in the introductory paragraph of the City’s updated General Plan allegedly violates and conflicts with state planning laws and that the EIR for the project contained substantial supplemental changes that required recirculation.
Continue Reading Court Rejects Facial General Plan Consistency Challenge Based on Single Sentence in Sacramento’s 2035 General Plan
In a case of first impression published on October 25, 2019, Denham, LLC v. City of Richmond, Cal.App.5th __ (2019) (Case No. A154759), the First District Court of Appeal agreed with a trial court that a ballot initiative to preclude development on 430 acres in Richmond’s El Sobrante Valley caused the Richmond General Plan to become impermissibly inconsistent. But the Court reversed as to the appropriate remedy, and it ordered the trial court to issue a writ of mandate directing the City to cure the inconsistency.
Continue Reading Court Orders City to Cure Internal Inconsistency in Richmond General Plan Created by Citizen-Sponsored Ballot Initiative
Senate Bill 330, known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 and authored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), passed the California legislature on Friday, September 6, 2019, with strong support from numerous organizations supportive of the production of new housing. For a five-year period ending January 1, 2025, SB 330 would require local governments to process housing permits faster, prevent local governments from “changing the rules in the middle of the game,” and suspend certain housing limits. Although various local agencies and groups that favor strong local land use control opposed SB 330, Governor Gavin Newsom has publicly championed substantial housing production goals and is certain to sign the bill.
Continue Reading Housing Crisis Act Passes in California Legislature, Will be Signed by Governor Newsom