Articles Posted in Entitlements

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In many cities throughout California, concerns about traffic have made the State Density Bonus Law (“DBL”) a four letter word. Developers who are otherwise willing to provide affordable units as a component of a market rate multifamily or mixed-use project are increasingly discouraged from doing so. And it’s not getting any easier. On September 27, 2014, Governor Brown signed AB 2222, amending the DBL in response to a growing perception that the DBL could be implemented in a manner that could result in a net loss of existing affordable housing units for new housing projects. The bill requires developers to identify and replace all of a property’s pre-existing affordable units to be eligible for a density bonus under the DBL. While that goal sounds reasonable, in practice, it may prove to be difficult to implement and will most likely not achieve the intended result of retaining and creating more affordable housing throughout California. Continue reading →

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Are there circumstances where it would be possible to change, for example, the general plan land use designation of a 1,000 acre parcel from “open space” to “residential,” “mixed use,” and/or a hotel use without complying with the California Environmental Quality Act, even though potentially significant impacts could result from the change? In one of this year’s more important land use decisions, the California Supreme Court has answered that question with a clear and affirmative “Yes.”

The context of the Court’s decision is that of a “qualified” voter-sponsored ballot measure. For most local jurisdictions (i.e., a city or a county), a measure “qualifies” for the ballot when at least fifteen percent of the number of registered voters within the jurisdiction sign a petition to place the proposal on the ballot. Once sufficient signatures are confirmed, the legislative body of that jurisdiction (the City Council or the Board of Supervisors) has the choice of either placing the measure before the voters or approving the measure itself without change. Those are the only options. It has long been clear that if the measure is placed on the ballot and approved by voters, CEQA does not apply. However, the California Supreme Court has now determined that if the City Council or Board of Supervisors approves the measure itself rather than sending it to the voters, CEQA still does not apply. Continue reading →

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