- Community Facilities District Financing Triggers Prevailing Wage Requirements For All Public Improvements of a ProjectDecember 28, 2010In Azusa Land Partners v. Department of Industrial Relations, the Second Appellate District Court of Appeal has upheld the California Director of Industrial Relations and the Superior Court of Los Angeles County in determining that use of Mello-Roos bonds to fund certain infrastructure required for a city’s approval of a mixed-use project requires payment of prevailing wages for the ... read more
- Increased Contractor Costs on Public Works Projects – Strategies For Reducing Owner RiskOctober 8, 2010General contractors on public works projects often submit claims for extra compensation to public entity project owners for increased costs during construction, and point to information they did not know when preparing their bids. In light of the recent California Supreme Court decision in Los Angeles Unified School District v. Great American Insurance Co. (2010) 49 Cal.4th 739, such ... read more
- Public Works Contractors Need Not Show Fraudulent Intent to Recover Damages Caused by Incorrect Plans and SpecificationsJuly 14, 2010In Los Angeles Unified School District v. Great American Insurance Co. S165113, a decision filed July 12, 2010, the California Supreme Court decided whether a contractor on a public works project may recover in a contract action for extra work or expenses necessitated by a public entity's ... read more
- Contractors Permitted to Use Modified Total Cost Method of Damages in Public Project ClaimsMarch 29, 2010General contractors on public works projects often assert close-out claims against the public entity at the end of projects. When this occurs, the method in which the general contractor can prove its damages on a claim is often the major issue.
On March 18, 2010 the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, confirmed that in California, general contractors are permitted to use the ... read more
- Court Invalidates EIR’s Use of Post-Approval “Future” Baseline For Analysis of Project ImpactsDecember 23, 2010The California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, requires agencies to compare the potentially significant impacts of proposed projects to an “environmental baseline” – which CEQA provides shall “normally” consist of environmental conditions as they exist when environmental review is commenced. The California Court of Appeal, Sixth District, has ruled that an Environmental Impact ... read more
- A Solid Administrative Record is the Key to Successfully Defending a Challenge to an EIRDecember 13, 2010In Cherry Valley Pass Acres v. City of Beaumont, 2010 WL 4705953 (2010), the plaintiffs challenged the adequacy of an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for a project to convert a large egg farm to suburban residential development under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).
The plaintiffs claimed the EIR relied on an improper baseline, failed to demonstrate ... read more
- New Construction General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Effective July 1, 2010July 1, 2010
The California State Water Resources Control Board substantially revised the statewide General Permit for Discharges of Storm Waters Associated with Construction Sites that regulates water quality at construction sites ("Construction General Permit"). (See Order No. 2009-009 DWQ.) The new requirements, which take effect July 1, 2010, will significantly impact the planning and management of ... read more
- No Subsequent CEQA Review Required By Agency Which Lacks Authority To Mitigate Environmental ImpactsJune 18, 2010In San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition v. City of San Diego, California Court of Appeal has ruled that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does not require a subsequent or supplemental Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for allegedly significant impacts which the reviewing ... read more
- Even Where No Environmental Review Was Undertaken, 30-Day Statute of Limitations for CEQA Challenge Applies Whenever NOD is FiledFebruary 12, 2010
Yesterday, in Committee for Green Foothills v. County of Santa Clara, the California Supreme Court considered the question, if a notice of determination ("NOD") has been filed, but an action alleges that no environmental review was undertaken, which statute of limitations applies: (1) the general 30-day limit on challenges following a notice, or (2) the longer 180-day period provided for a ... read more
- Mitigation Measures May Survive Expired ApprovalFebruary 9, 2010The First District Court of Appeal ruled that the California Department of Forestry (CDF) improperly approved an exemption for harvesting less than three acres of timber where previous timber harvesting plans included mitigation measures prohibiting tree-cutting in the proposed area.
Even though the previous approvals had expired, the court in Katzeff v. California Department of Forestry ... read more
- To Avoid Mandatory Dismissal, CEQA Petitioner Must File and Serve Written Request For Hearing Within 90 Days Of Filing PetitionJanuary 15, 2010It has long been established that a petitioner challenging a local agency’s compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) must “request” a court hearing within 90 days of filing the petition, or face mandatory dismissal. A new case, County of Sacramento v. Superior Court (Forster-Gill, Inc.) clarifies that the request for a hearing ... read more
- Supreme Court Rules CEQA Does Not Apply When Agency Declines to Renew Use Permit for Private ApplicantJanuary 13, 2010The California Supreme Court has clarified that a local agency’s decision to deny renewal of a private party’s existing, time-limited land use permit is not a “project” to which the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) applies.
This decision applies only to private facilities; agency decisions to close existing public facilities have been held previously by the Courts to ... read more
Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation
- Ninth Circuit En Banc Panel Finds Goleta’s Mobile Home Rent Control OrdinanceDecember 23, 2010An en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit, in a much anticipated decision, has found that the City of Goleta’s mobile home rent control ordinance did not cause a taking of the Guggenheim’s property because they received exactly what they bargained for. The court rejected the reasoning of the three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit that previously found a taking had occurred and affirmed the trial ... read more
Trial and Litigation
- Restraining Orders: Protecting Public Employees When Public Access Becomes ThreateningDecember 3, 2010Can a city restrict the conduct of a self-described civic-minded individual, with a history of flamboyant speech and dramatic behavior in his communications with the city, without running afoul of free speech rights?In City of San Jose v. William Garbett, filed on November 24, 2010, the Sixth Appellate District Court of Appeal says yes, when the conduct meets the conditions for an ... read more
- US Supreme Court Holds City’s Review of Employee Messages on City Pager Was Reasonable in Circumstances, But Avoids Clarifying General StandardsJune 17, 2010
In City of Ontario v. Quon, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrow ruling that the City's review of a SWAT officer's text messages sent over a City-issued pager was reasonable in the circumstances of that case, and thus did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. But the Court avoided answering two broader ... read more
- Pitchess Discovery Limited to Criminal Cases Involving Allegations That Officer Used Excessive ForceApril 26, 2010On Friday, April 23, 2010, a California appeals court ruled in Brown v. Valverde that motions filed pursuant to California Evidence Code section 1043 et seq. and Pitchess v. Superior Court (Pitchess motions) to request peace officer personnel records are not available in ... read more
- New decision affecting Miranda: Maryland v. ShatzerFebruary 25, 2010
On February 24, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court came to a decision that will have long-lasting implications on police policy with respect to Miranda warnings.
The case, Maryland v. Shatzer, 08-680, examined whether a police investigation in Maryland was performed illegally when they re-interrogated a man suspected of sexual assault over two years after the first interrogation. At issue ... read more
- No More Limits on “Permissible Quantity” of Medical MarijuanaJanuary 25, 2010
On January 21, 2010, the California Supreme Court issued its ruling in People v. Kelly (S164830), which essentially eliminates the limitations on the quantity of medical marijuana that a qualified patient or primary caregiver may legally possess or cultivate.
After the California voters adopted the Compassionate Use Act (“Act”), the California Legislature enacted Health ... read more
Municipal and Special District Law
- Proposition 26’s Immediate Impact on Local Governments Will Be LimitedNovember 8, 2010Voters approved Proposition 26 at the November 2, 2010 election, and, upon certification of the results, the measure will be effective as of November 3.
The main thrust of Proposition 26 was to require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature to approve “regulatory fees” that the measure indicates are unrelated to a regulatory program.
But it will also directly limit local ... read more
- City of Alhambra v. County of Los Angeles: Unlawful to Impose Property Tax Administration Fees on Triple Flip and VLF Swap RevenuesJuly 13, 2010
Under state law, counties are authorized to charge fees to cities and other local governments that receive property tax revenues for the costs of administering the property tax system in proportion to the amount of property tax received. These fees are referred to “property tax administration fees” or PTAF. State law does not authorize counties to charges the PTAF to school districts. ... read more
- Ordinance Prohibiting Day Laborers from Soliciting Employment from Motorists Does Not Violate Free Speech RightsJune 11, 2010In Comite De Jornaleros De Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, the Ninth Circuit has held that a Redondo Beach ordinance, which prohibits persons from standing on a street or highway and soliciting employment, business, or contributions from motorists, is a content-neutral, reasonable time place and ... read more
- California Supreme Court rejects use of maximum permitted operational levels as CEQA baseline for environmental review of refinery projectMarch 17, 2010
In Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast Air Quality Management District, the California Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s decision and held that analyzing the “worst case” emission impacts of a new refinery project against the existing facility’s maximum permitted emission levels was inconsistent with the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. ... read more
- State Initiative to Legalize Marijuana One Step Closer to BallotFebruary 5, 2010
The proponents of “The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010,” which would legalize marijuana for personal use by those twenty-one years of age or older, reportedly submitted over 700,000 signatures to the Secretary of State on January 28, 2010, in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2010 ballot (“Initiative”).
The Secretary of State has eight business days ... read more
- Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Gives Public Entities New Rights as the SEC Seeks CommentAugust 10, 2010
With the ink barely dry on the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, a new world dawns as municipal and other public agencies get new rights and protections formerly reserved to the investor community. The legislation comprises the most massive and sweeping changes to the financial markets since the Great Depression, and its effects will be multiplied through hundreds of mandated rulemaking and ... read more
Labor and Employment
Climate Change and Green Initiatives
- City’s Billboard Bans Do Not Violate Free Speech RightsMay 28, 2010The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a decision that clarifies the current state of the law in balancing a local government’s authority to regulate billboards with First Amendment protections. In World Wide Rush LLC v. City of Los Angeles, the Court held that the City of Los Angeles’ ban on freeway ... read more
- EIR Set Aside for Inadequate Alternatives Analysis and Failure to Prepare Water Supply AssessmentMay 27, 2010The Court of Appeal rejected an EIR for a proposed open-air composting facility in San Bernardino County. In Center for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino, the court ruled that the EIR’s rejection of an enclosed facility alternative as economically and technologically infeasible was ... read more
- Court Holds that Inclusion of a “Supercenter” in a Project Does Not Automatically Mean Urban Decay Impacts Must Be StudiedMarch 26, 2010
In Melom v. City of Madera, the Fifth Appellate District revisited the issue of evaluation of the environmental impacts of “Supercenters” under CEQA addressed previously in read more
- Agreement for City Services to Proposed Tribal Casino is Not a Project under CEQAMarch 1, 2010The First District Court of Appeal ruled that the City of Richmond did not violate CEQA when it entered into a municipal services agreement (MSA) for a tribal casino proposed on unincorporated lands adjacent to the City. In Parchester Village Neighborhood Council v. City of Richmond, the court reversed a trial court decision and agreed with the City that the MSA was not a project under ... read more
- 8,000 Adult Items in One Store Found “Substantial” by 2nd CircuitFebruary 3, 2010In VIP of Berlin, LLC v. Town of Berlin, __ F.3d __, 2010 WL 252292 (2nd Cir. Jan. 2010), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court ruling and rejected an as-applied vagueness challenge to a Town of Berlin's ordinance and in so doing, presented an excellent discussion of the vagueness doctrine and its application to the construction of the term "substantial".
The ... read more
- EIR Required For Ordinance Banning Retail Distribution of Plastic BagsJanuary 29, 2010In Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach, the Second District Court of Appeal (Los Angeles) has held that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) required the City of Manhattan Beach to prepare a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) before approving an ordinance to ban stores and other retail outlets from distributing plastic bags.
The case illustrates ... read more
- Redevelopment Agency SERAF Payment Requirements Upheld; CRA Will AppealMay 4, 2010In a setback for redevelopment agencies, Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled today to deny petitions seeking to overturn AB 26 x4 which mandates a statewide contribution from redevelopment agencies equal to an aggregate $1.7 billion during fiscal year 2009-10 and an additional $350 million in fiscal year 2010-11. The 2009-10 payments are due to county auditor-controllers on May 10. In the 24-page ruling, ... read more
Writs and Appeals
- Court of Appeals Gives Deputy Coroners An Unkind CutApril 27, 2010The California Court of Appeal recently held that a deputy coroner’s principal duties and functions do not fall within the scope of “active law enforcement” under Government Code section 20436(a). As a result of this determination, deputy coroners are not entitled to be classified as “local safety members,” a classification that would substantially enhance their retirement ... read more
- Court of Appeal Decision Adversely Affects Public Entity Liability for Dangerous ConditionsApril 19, 2010
In an opinion published on April 16, 2010 the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District held that in cases in which a plaintiff has alleged that a dangerous condition of public property caused injury, the public entity defendant cannot rely on the absence of prior accident claims to prove that the public property did not pose a substantial risk of injury to the plaintiff. In the ... read more
- EIR Not Required to Evaluate Off-Site Alternative Which Does Not Meet Project ObjectivesApril 12, 2010The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ("Lab") is a special research facility which, though located primarily in the Berkeley hills on land owned by the Regents of the University of California, is financed by the federal government.In Jones v. Regents of the University of California, the Court of Appeal has upheld an Environmental Impact Report for the Lab's Long Range Development ... read more
- Filing a Notice of Exemption Triggers a 35-day Statute of Limitations for CEQA-Based Challenge to the Project ApprovalApril 2, 2010The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that filing a Notice of Exemption triggers CEQA’s 35-day statute of limitations and that plaintiffs cannot avoid the limitations period by claiming defects in the underlying project approval process.In a lengthy opinion for Stockton Citizens for Sensible Planning v. City of Stockton, the Court’s comprehensive discussion led to a simple, ... read more
- California Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality Of LAX Solicitation Regulations Challenged By Hare KrishnasMarch 29, 2010
In International Society for Krishna v. City of Los Angeles the California Supreme Court ruled that the solicitation regulations at the Los Angeles International Airport ("LAX") are valid as reasonable time, place and manner restrictions under state law. (2010 WL 1071387 (Cal.)) While this ruling will ... read more
- Ninth Circuit Orders Rehearing En Banc, Vacating Controversial Regulatory Takings Decision in Guggenheim v. City of GoletaMarch 24, 2010In September 2009, the Ninth Circuit, in a split decision authored by Judge Bybee, departed from established takings jurisprudence to find that the vacancy control provision of a rent control ordinance for mobile home parks in the City of Goleta caused a taking for which just compensation must be paid, despite the fact that the ordinance clearly did not interfere with the property owner's ... read more
Transportation and Infrastructure
- Court of Appeal Publishes Opinion in Hotly Debated Community Redevelopment CaseJanuary 14, 2010The Court of Appeal has published its December opinion in JSM Rivara, LLC v. the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles (JSM Rivara, LLC v. CRA/LA).
Its publication underscores the importance of the case for redevelopment agencies around the state. JSM Rivara, LLC v. CRA/LA raised significant ... read more