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Posts Tagged ‘CEQA exemption’

New CEQA Cases

In Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court, (2014) 59 Cal.4th 1029, the California Supreme Court held that CEQA review is not required when a local government entity adopts a voter submitted land use initiative directly (and without the need for a public vote), just as CEQA review is not required before voters adopt an initiative at an election.

In Rominger v. County of Colusa, (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 690, the court held that the approval of a tentative subdivision map was subject to CEQA review categorically – even if a specific development project was yet to be planned. The court further held that CEQA procedural errors (in this case, failure to post public notice of the County’s intent to adopt a mitigated negative declaration (MND) for the full 30 days) constituted abuse of discretions, but such errors are not grounds for reversal unless they are shown to be prejudicial. The court held that the 27-day notice period in this case was not prejudicial. Also, the court rejected arguments that an EIR (as opposed to an MND) was required to address potential agricultural, odor, noise, air quality, greenhouse gas and water supply impacts, but the court agreed that an EIR was required to address potential traffic issues.

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CASE UPDATE: California Supreme Court Clarifies “Unusual Circumstances” Exception To CEQA Exemptions In Case Involving Huge House Constructed On Steep Slope In Berkeley.

In Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (2015) 60 Cal.4th 1086, California Supreme Court held that the “unusual circumstances” exception to CEQA’s categorical exemptions literally requires unusual circumstances, and that agency decisions as to whether or not unusual circumstances exist are reviewed under the deferential substantial evidence standard.

In this case, the City of Berkeley approved a project to construct a 6,458 square foot house with an attached 3,394 square foot, 10-car garage on a wooded, steep slope in a residential neighborhood without an environmental impact report or negative declaration.  In so doing, the City found that the project was categorically exempt from CEQA under the “new, small structures” exemption and the “in-fill development” exemption.  The trial court affirmed the City’s approval.  The court of appeal then reversed the trial court and invalidated the City’s approval, relying on the “usual circumstances” exception, which provides:

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Miles J. Dolinger
Attorney at Law

314 Capitola Avenue Capitola, CA 95010
Phone: (831) 477-9193
FAX: (831) 477-9196
miles@dolingerlaw.com

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