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.

Continue Reading Development Agreement Allowed City to Impose New Fees on Housing Project Despite Previously Approved Vesting Tentative Map

Senate Bill 330, referred to as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, contains two major parts intended to accelerate housing production over the next five years by streamlining permitting and ensuring no net loss in housing capacity.  Governor Newsom signed SB 330 into law on October 9, 2019, and it will be in effect from January 1, 2020 until January 1, 2025 unless extended via additional legislation.

The first major part of SB 330 establishes various “good government” requirements that affect the processing of housing development projects in every California city and county.  The second part of the law limits the ability of “affected” cities and counties—a smaller but substantial subset of agencies that are designated by the U.S. Census Bureau as “urbanized areas or urban clusters”—to downzone property and regulates the ability of developers to replace existing housing with new housing.

The focus of this blog post is the powerful new, and applicant-friendly, statutory form of vested rights referred to as a “preliminary application,” contained in the first part of SB 330, over which cities and counties have no discretion.


Continue Reading Establishing Vested Rights Through SB 330’s Preliminary Application: Understanding the Key Differences Between “Deemed Complete” and “Determined to be Complete” in the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019”

On April 3, 2019, in a case originally filed March 6, 2019, the First District Court of Appeal certified for publication Point San Pedro Road Coalition v. County of Marin, __ Cal.App.5th __ (Case No. A150002) (2019), an interesting opinion addressing the limits of the power local agencies have to approve changes to non-conforming land uses.

Continue Reading Court Rules That Extending Permit for Quarry Operation Was an Impermissible Extension, Enlargement, or Intensification of a Non-Conforming Use in Violation of County Zoning Ordinance

California’s cities and counties have a long and growing track record of successfully defending challenges to their land use authority filed on behalf of medical marijuana dispensaries.  These successes are largely a product of the broad and deep police power conferred to cities and counties under the California Constitution and the federal government’s inclusion of (and ongoing refusal to remove) marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.  Schedule I drugs (including heroin and ecstasy) are defined as drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”  The federal government considers them “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Continue Reading Enacting and Enforcing Local Ordinances to Prohibit Medical Marijuana Dispensaries – Up in Smoke?

On June 23, 2016, in Stewart Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Oakland, __ Cal.App.4th __ (2016) (Case No. A143417), the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District issued an important decision dealing with whether a new legislative enactment may constitutionally deprive a landowner of a vested right conferred by local ordinance. The case arose out of a May 2012 building permit the City of Oakland issued for the construction of a controversial crematorium and the City’s later enactment of an emergency ordinance purporting to require a conditional use permit on new crematoria, including any crematoria that have obtained building permit for which rights to proceed have not yet vested under state law.

Continue Reading Vested Rights Conferred Under Local Ordinance Trump Conditional Use Permit Requirement Later Imposed by Emergency Ordinance