Client Alerts

The California state legislature and courts as well as local governments are continuously changing the legal landscape.  Staying abreast of new laws, regulations and other legal developments, and analyzing their impact on local governments is what makes our attorneys some of the best in the state. In addition, we write timely alerts to keep our clients informed of developing legal news and analysis.

Client e-Alerts are emailed to our clients, and they can also be viewed on our website.  If you are interested in receiving our Client Alerts via email, please complete the subscription information in the left column.
Some of our most recent alerts are presented below grouped by their practice area. Older alerts are available in the Archives, which can be accessed via the links in the left column.

California Public Records Act

Public Agencies Not Required to Disclose Records of Automatic License Plate Readers

May 8, 2015, Alex J. Mog, Ruthann G. Ziegler

The California Court of Appeal recently held that records generated by high speed cameras that automatically scan and compile license plate images to assist law enforcement in identifying vehicles involved with suspected crimes are not required to be disclosed under the California Public Records Act ("CPRA," Government Code §§6250 et seq.).  (American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California v. Superior Court, No. B259396 (Cal. Ct. App. May 6, 2015).)

Public Agencies Not Required to Disclose Attorney Billing Invoices Under CPRA; Attorney-Client Privilege Applies to Entire Invoice

April 16, 2015, Nicholaus W. Norvell, Ruthann G. Ziegler

The California Court of Appeal recently held that billing invoices sent by an attorney to a public agency client are protected by the attorney-client privilege and are not required to be disclosed by the  public agency, even in redacted form, under the California Public Records Act ("CPRA," Government Code §§ 6250 et seq.).  (County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors v. Superior Court, No. B257230 (Cal. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2015).) 

Supreme Court to Review Decision on Accidental Disclosure of Privileged Documents Under CPRA

March 17, 2015, Nicholaus W. Norvell, Ruthann G. Ziegler

The California Supreme Court will review a lower court’s decision that disclosure of a document under the California Public Records Act (“CPRA,” Government Code §§ 6250 et seq.) waives any privileges attached to the document, even if the disclosure was accidental or by a “low-level” employee not authorized to waive the privilege.  Last week, the Court decided it would review the California Court of Appeal’s decision in Ardon v. City of Los Angeles (Dec. 10, 2014, B252476).

Environmental Law

State Board Releases Draft Water Conservation Regulations to Achieve Statewide 25% Reduction in Urban Usage; Comments Sought by April 22

April 19, 2015, John D. Bakker, Gregory J. Newmark

Today, the State Water Resources Control Board issued draft emergency regulationsto implement the Governor’s April 1, 2015 Drought Emergency Executive Order and requested comments on them by this Wednesday, April 22. The Water Board intends to consider the adoption of final regulations on May 5 or 6, with the regulations becoming effective before June 1.

The Governor’s Order had directed the State Water Resources Control Board to issue emergency regulations to implement various water conservation strategies.  Key among these directives is the “mandatory 25% reduction in potable urban water use with recognition of past conservation achievements.”  The Water Board’s initial framework (released on April 7) would have assigned each water supplier to one of four reduction tiers (10%, 20%, 25%, and 35%), depending on the supplier's residential gallons-per-capita (R-GPCD) water usage during September 2014.  That date was chosen because it reflected a period when water usage would be at its highest due to outdoor irrigation.  The Water Board received over 250 commentson the initial framework. 

CEQA: New Player in Sports Stadium Wars

March 19, 2015, Timothy D. Cremin, Amrit S. Kulkarni

The professional sports landscape has long been colored by cities trying to convince a team to stay or lure a team to move. Recent activity in the cities of Sacramento, Inglewood and Carson reveals that the most influential factor is providing a new state-of-the-art stadium. The California Environmental Quality Act is proving to be an increasingly important player as project opponents use CEQA compliance and litigation to undermine the planning, financing and construction of new stadiums.

Governor’s Drought Executive Order Will Impact Local Agency Water Suppliers and Water Users (and Lawns)

April 6, 2015, John D. Bakker, Gregory J. Newmark

On April 2, Governor Brown issued the third and most significant in a series of Executive Orders addressing the ongoing drought. They followed his 2014 proclamation of a State of Emergency resulting from drought conditions. The Executive Orders direct various state agencies to implement various actions. They also suspend laws and regulations, using the Governor’s statutory authority to do so where the law or regulation will hinder the State’s ability to cope with the emergency.

Contaminated Sediment: Appellate Court Muddies the Water for TMDLs

April 3, 2015, Gregory J. Newmark, Sarah N. Quiter

On March 30, a short opinion from California's Second Appellate District raised a long list of unanswered questions in a case concerning a Regional Water Quality Control Board's authority to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load ("TMDL") for contaminated sediment.

First Amendment

California Supreme Court Rules on Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

March 4, 2015, Meyers Nave, Deborah J. Fox, Jenny L. Riggs

On March 2, the California Supreme Court issued two much-anticipated decisions relating to sex offender residency restrictions: People v. Mosley, a facial challenge, and In re Taylor, an as-applied challenge. The decisions are helpful to jurisdictions navigating the constitutional minefields of regulating sex offenders.

Land Use

Attorney's Fee Award Reduced Based on Limited CEQA Victory

April 14, 2015, Timothy D. Cremin, Edward Grutzmacher

In Save Our Uniquely Rural Community Environment v. County of San Bernardino (SOURCE), the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's award of only $19,176 in attorney's fees on petitioner's motion for an award of over $231,000.  The court ruled that a greatly reduced fee award was justified because the plaintiff prevailed on limited grounds on an uncomplicated CEQA issue. 

CA Supreme Court Requires “Unusual Circumstances” for Otherwise Categorically Exempt Projects to be Subject to CEQA

March 2, 2015, Meyers Nave, Julia Bond, Amrit S. Kulkarni

In a highly anticipated decision, Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (S201116, filed March 2, 2015), the California Supreme Court resolved years of uncertainty by holding that a project’s purported environmental effects must be “due to unusual circumstances” before an environmental impact report can be required under Guidelines section 15300.2(c). The Court also resolved another long-standing divide among Courts of Appeal, holding that an agency’s findings as to unusual circumstances are subject to the substantial evidence standard.

Municipal and Special District Law

Drone Regulation Update: California Legislature Proposes Four Bills; FAA Issues Proposed Rules; White House Issues Presidential Memo

March 11, 2015, Kristopher Kokotaylo

The commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicle ("UAVs"), also known as "drones," is not presently allowed under federal law, while public agency and hobbyist use of UAVs is allowed. Congress has tasked the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") with opening up the federal airspace to commercial UAVs. As a result, a flurry of regulatory and state legislative activity has occurred related to UAVs.

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