Published Opinion: Sign Ordinances for On- and Off-Site Commercial Advertising

In a published opinion which will elicit sighs of relief from municipal governments around the state, the Second Appellate District upheld municipalities’ ability to differentiate between offsite and onsite commercial advertising under the California liberty of speech clause. In Lamar Central Outdoor, LLC. v. City of Los Angeles,  (Mar. 10, 2016), __ Cal.App.2d __, a billboard agency challenged whether the City of Los Angeles could regulate signs differently based on their commercial nature and their location. The City’s regulations banned new offsite signs (with exceptions including an exception for noncommercial signage) and also banned offsite signs with digital displays. Because of the state-wide importance of the Lamar case, the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the American Planning Association California Chapter submitted an amicus brief. Deborah Fox and Meg Rosequist authored the brief. Read More.

Published Opinion: “Unusual Circumstances” Required for Subjecting Exempt Projects to CEQA

In a highly anticipated decision (Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, S201116, 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. Amrit Kulkarni and Julia Bond represented the real parties in interest in this case, Mitchell D. Kapor and Freada Kapor-Klein. Read More.

Published Opinion: Annexation – CEQA and the Reorganization Act

Protect Agricultural Land v. Stanislaus County Local Agency Commission; City of Ceres
1/28/14 – 5th District Court of Appeal

In a citizens group’s challenge to the Stanislaus County LAFCO’s approval of a 960-acre annexation into the City of Ceres, Meyers Nave won a published decision by the 5th District Court of Appeal in favor of the City and LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission). The matter involved a challenge to LAFCO’s approvals under both CEQA and the Reorganization Act. The 5th District’s opinion, upholding an earlier court decision, affirms the annexation of this large new area into the City. See the 5th District’s January 28, 2014, opinion here. Please contact Ed Grutzmacher, who represented the City of Ceres in the trial court and on appeal in this matter, with any questions about this decision.

Published Opinion: Coastal Development Permitting

Hagopian v. State of California et al.
1/24/14 – 2nd District Court of Appeal

In a permitting dispute with a Southern California landowner, Meyers Nave obtained a published decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in favor of the County of Los Angeles, affirming an earlier trial court victory and securing recovery of costs. The underlying case involved a large property in the Santa Monica Mountains segment of the State’s Coastal Zone. The landowners, who built eight structures, other facilities, and a commercial vineyard without Coastal Development Permits (CDPs), sued the County, the State, and the California Coastal Commission in 2010, after the Commission cited the owners for violating the California Coastal Act. See the 2nd District’s January 24, 2014, opinion here. Please contact Meyers Nave attorneys Deborah Fox or Peter Hayes, who represented the County of L.A. in this matter, with any questions about this decision.

Opinion in International Church of Foursquare Gospel v. City of San Leandro

Reversal of the district court’s judgement in International Church of Foursquare Gospel v. City of San Leandro, 632 F.Supp.2d 925 (N.D. Cal. 2008). District Judge finds a triable issue regarding whether the City imposed a substantial burden on the Church’s religious Exercise under RLUIPA and that the City failed to prove a compelling interest for its actions. 

Please click here to read the full opinion.

Superior Court’s Final Decision in Concerned Citizens of Santa Rosa v. City of Santa Rosa and the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Rosa

Honorable Elaine Rushing of the Sonoma County Superior Court issues a final decision upholding the Tentative Decision of February 26, 2008 in re: Concerned Citizens of Santa Rosa Against Redevelopment Law Abuse, Inc., a California Non-Profit Corporation v. City of Santa Rosa and the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Rosa.

Please click here to read the full final decision in Concerned Citizens of Santa Rosa v. City of Santa Rosa.

Opinion in Redwood Christian Schools v. County of Alameda

Order granting defendants’ motion for judgement as a matter of law: Unreasonable limitation and First Amendment claims.  Attorneys Peter Hayes, Steven Mattas, David Skinner, et al represented the County of Alameda in this complex case involving the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”).

Please click here to read the full opinion in Redwood Christian Schools v. County of Alameda