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
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is an extremely well-funded Los Angeles-based non-profit that now engages in some of the most pernicious anti-housing activities in California. The organization recently challenged the approval by the City of Los Angeles of a 26-story mixed-use building within the area covered by the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan. The project includes 200 dwelling units, of which 5% would be reserved for very-low income households, and 7,000 square feet of commercial space.
Continue Reading Court Holds that the Legislature Really Did Dissolve Redevelopment Agencies and Rendered the 15% Affordable Housing Requirement Inoperative
On May 4, 2021, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court decision, in Kracke v. City of Santa Barbara, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2021) (Case No. B300528), enjoining the City of Santa Barbara’s enforcement of a short-term vacation rental ban in the coastal zone, through proactive enforcement of existing zoning regulations, unless it obtains Coastal Commission approval or a waiver of such requirement.
Continue Reading Landowner Prevails in Short-Term Vacation Rental Lawsuit Against Santa Barbara
On July 18, 2019, in Sacramentans for Fair Planning v. City of Sacramento, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2019), the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court decision denying a “vertical” consistency challenge filed by “Sacramentans for Fair Planning” after the City of Sacramento approved a15-story “high-rise” condominium building—known as the “Yamanee” project—in the City’s Midtown area. The plaintiff group also challenged the City’s streamlined CEQA review of the project under a sustainable communities environmental assessment (“SCEA”). My partner, Art Coon, analyzed those issues in the CEQA Developments blog.
Continue Reading Court Rejects Land Use Consistency Challenge to Sacramento Mixed-Use Project Providing “Significant Community Benefits”
California’s ongoing housing crisis has many causes, including, as prominently noted in the Housing Accountability Act, the “activities and policies of many local governments that limit the approval of housing, increase the cost of land for housing, and require that high fees and exactions be paid by producers of housing.” See, e.g, Cal. Gov’t Code § 65589.5(a)(1)(B). Fortunately, however, these abuses of the police power are driving the legislature to act. For example, in explaining the purpose of Senate Bill 50, which we wrote about here, California State Senator Scott Wiener explained that “absent state intervention, communities will continue to effectively prohibit people from living near transit and jobs by making it illegal to build small apartment buildings around transit and jobs, while fueling sprawl and inhumane supercommutes.”
Continue Reading Attorney General Opines that Cities May Not Condition the Grant of a Density Bonus on the Payment of a “Public Benefit Fee”
On December 6, 2018, the California Attorney General issued an opinion (No. 14-403) in response to a request from Mendocino County Counsel Katherine L. Elliott to address three questions regarding the balance of land use regulatory authority between cities and counties. According to the request, in 1993 an incorporated city acquired real property, outside the city limits, in an unincorporated area of the County. When it acquired the property, the city assumed an existing lease that covered a portion of the property, becoming a lessor to the private business that was operating and continues to operate there. The Attorney General was thus asked, in this context, to determine whether and under what circumstances a city and its private lessee may be exempt from the county’s building and zoning ordinances.
Continue Reading Attorney General Confirms Cities’ Freedom from County Zoning Regulations
On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 2923, which gives the Bay Area Rapid Transit District land use authority for transit-oriented development on the land it already owns near existing and planned stations. The District intends to use the law to fully build out BART-owned land around its stations by 2040.
Continue Reading New Law Provides Land Use Authority to BART to Create Transit-Oriented Development Near Stations
On June 12, 2018, in County of Ventura v. City of Moorpark and Broad Beach Geologic Hazard Abatement District, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2018) (Case No. B282466), the Second District Court of Appeal published a decision addressing whether the California Environmental Quality Act’s broad definition of “project also applies to statutory exemptions, questions of state law preemption, the limits of a city’s contractual authority, and the abdication of a government entity’s police power. My partner, Art Coon, wrote about the CEQA issues here.
Continue Reading California Appellate Court Upholds Settlement Agreement for $100M Malibu Beach Restoration Project