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The California Environmental Quality Act: 2019 Court Decisions and Legislation

I. OVERVIEW OF CEQA DEVELOPMENTS IN 2019

A. The Supreme Court decision in August 2019 in Union of Medical Marijuana Patients held that all zoning changes are not automatically CEQA “projects;” they must still meet the statutory standard of an activity with direct impact or reasonably foreseeable indirect impact.

B. Together with the late 2018 decision on Sierra Club v. County of Fresno, on air quality analysis and EIR standard of review issues, the issuance of the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients decision cleared the backlog of CEQA cases at the Supreme Court.

C. Protecting Our Water & Environmental Resources v. Stanislaus County, regarding whether well permits are ministerial or discretionary, is still pending. In December 2019, the Supreme Court granted review in County of Butte v. Department of Water Resources, regarding whether the Federal Power Act preempts CEQA as it may apply to state hydropower licensing actions, so there are now two CEQA cases pending at the state’s highest court.

D. There were 15 decisions from the various Courts of Appeal, a lower pace in than in prior years (there were 17 decisions, but two were depublished). One of the key decisions was McCorkle Eastside Neighborhood Group that design review did not include discretion over environmental impact issues, so city had no discretion and CEQA not triggered.

E. The Legislature enacted a number of bills in 2019, mostly exemptions relating to the housing and homeless crises.

II. CASE LAW DEVELOPMENTS

A. Does CEQA Apply?  Is the Activity a “Project”?

Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of San Diego (2019) 7 Cal.5th 1171.  Zoning ordinances changes are not automatically a CEQA project.

  • Supreme Court rejected argument that all zoning ordinance changes are “projects” subject to CEQA simply because they are listed in Public Resources Code §21080
  • The action must still meet the statutory definition in Public Resources Code §21065 – agency action that has a direct impact or reasonably foreseeable indirect impact
  • In this case, changes to dispensary regulations could lead to new businesses, new traffic impacts – so reasonably foreseeable indirect impact

Lake Norconian Club Foundation v. Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 1044.  Agency inaction to preserve historic building not a “project” subject to CEQA.

  • There must be some “activity” – absent agency activity, no project even if the inactivity may have environmental consequences
  • Case arose out of failure to maintain a historic hotel within a prison site; trial court found that petitioners missed the statute of limitations; court of appeal upheld dismissal of the case, but on substantive grounds
  • Preservation groups have argued that neglect should be actionable under CEQA – this decision rejects that

 

B. Statutory and Categorical Exemptions

Berkeley Hills Watershed Coalition v. City of Berkeley (2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 880.  Exemption for single family homes upheld, sensitive environment exception did not defeat use of categorical exemption.

  • City approved construction of three single family homes under the Guideline 15303 exemption for construction of limited numbers of small structures – which specifies that it applies to “up to three single-family residences”
  • Petitioner argued the “location exception” of Guideline 15300.2 – projects that are ordinarily significant may be significant in a sensitive environment. This exception applies “where the project may impact on an environmental resource of hazardous or critical concern where designated, precisely mapped, and officially adopted”
  • Court applied same bifurcated standard of review as has been developed for the unusual circumstances exception – whether the project is located in a particularly sensitive environment is a substantial evidence question; but the question of impact based on such a location is a fair argument question
  • Reports showed the project was located in Alquist-Priolo zone and potential landslide zone, but court held those are not “resources” but are geologic events – and the geotechnical reports demonstrated project was not in a sensitive environment
  • Decision based entirely on Guideline wording – but court noted this holding is consistent with California Building Industry Ass’n v. Bay Area Air Quality Management Dist. (2015) 62 Cal.4th 369 and its holding that CEQA is concerned with project impacts on environment, not the impacts of the existing environment on the project

Holden v. City of San Diego (2019) xx Cal.App.5th xxx (published December 13, Fourth District, Division One Case No. D074474).  In-fill exemption properly applied to residential development even though density was below general plan standards.

  • City applied in-fill exemption to 7 unit development project on steep sloped property designated for medium high density of 30-44 units; city determined based on steep slope constraints project was consistent with general plan and zoning
  • Court applied deferential standard to general plan consistency determination, found that city balanced density designation with steep slope issues, project consistent
  • On the same basis, the project complied with the requirement of the in-fill categorical exemption (Guideline 15332) the project must be consistent with general plan

Note: This decision is not final.  It was published on December 13, so it becomes final on January 12, and the deadline for one of the parties to file a petition for review with the California Supreme Court is January 22.

 

C. Negative Declaration Case Law

Hollywoodians Encouraging Rental Opportunities v. City of Los Angeles (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 768.  Mitigated negative declaration on conversion of apartments to hotel upheld against claim of impact based on loss of rent-stabilized units; baseline did not include any such units.

  • MND prepared for converting vacant 18-unit apartment building into boutique hotel
  • Units had already been withdrawn from rental market, so the baseline of existing conditions was an uninhabited building – thus no impact on supply of rent-stabilized housing
  • No cumulative impact on population and housing for same reason

 

D. EIR Decisions

South of Market Community Action Network v. City & County of San Francisco (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 321.  Applied Sierra Club v. Fresno standards and upheld EIR.

  • EIR evaluated four-acre downtown mixed use project
  • First case applying standards of review from Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (2018) 6 Cal.5th 502 (which had held EIR adequacy questions could be mixed questions of law and fact, not always reviewed under substantial evidenced standard)
  • Project description reviewed as matter of legal adequacy – and upheld because there was a specific description of a single project – there were two possible allocations of use between office and residential, but basic project was still identified
  • Cumulative impact and traffic impact claims reviewed under substantial evidence standard – whether more intersections needed to be analyzed was a methodology question under the Sierra Club case
  • Record demonstrated that city did evaluate mitigation measures, including TDM, so no basis for petitioner challenge on that issue
  • Alternative analysis was adequate, petitioners failed to present evidence that their additional proffered alternatives were feasible
  • Analysis of impacts on wind, open space, and shade and shadow all upheld – there was specific information in EIR, and planning code shade standard was not a CEQA threshold.

Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Conservation (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 210.  Program EIR on oil well stimulation techniques upheld.

  • Upheld program EIR prepared by the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) evaluating fracking and other well stimulation techniques, per SB 4 (Statutes 2013, chapter 313).
  • SB 4 established new regulatory and permitting scheme for well stimulation techniques. Also required an independent scientific study of fracking, and preparation of an EIR pursuant to CEQA to “provide public with detailed information regarding potential environmental impacts of well stimulation in the state.”  Public Resources Code §3161(b)(3)(A).
  • Court rejected claim that EIR must incorporate full study – the study and the EIR are separate requirements in the statute, nothing requires the study to be part of the EIR.
  • Although CEQA generally requires analysis of indirect impacts, the scope of this EIR was defined by SB 4, which did not include indirect impacts
  • EIR mitigation measures were incorporated into a Mitigation Policy Manual, which include sufficient performance standards – so no improper deferral
  • Findings and mitigation monitoring program not required because no specific project was approved
  • EIR included specific analysis of activities at three oil fields – petitioner claimed this analysis was just rehash of statewide analysis, but there was no factual basis for argument that impacts were different, so petitioners failed to meet their burden to show inadequacy

Sacramentans for Fair Planning v. City of Sacramento (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 698.  First decision upholding a “sustainable communities environmental assessment” under SB 375.

  • High-rise condominium tower in mid-town Sacramento upheld against planning law and CEQA challenges; court rejected claims of general plan inconsistency and spot zoning
  • City prepared SCEA under SB 375 as allowed for transit priority projects, SCEA is like an EIR but not required to evaluate growth-inducing impacts, impacts of light trucks and cars on transportation network or global warming, or cumulative impact previously analyzed
  • Court held review of decision to use an SCEA for a transit priority project is reviewed under the substantial evidence standard (as specified in SB 375, Public Resources Code §21152.2(b)(7)).
  • Petitioner attacked the lack of specific building intensity standards in the adopted sustainable communities strategy – court said SB 375 does not require specific intensity standards
  • Petitioner claims improper to rely on the prior general plan and sustainable communities strategy EIRs for cumulative analysis – court noted that strategy EIR did evaluate adding more housing, and petitioners’ concern about changing mid-town over time was a growth-inducing claim, and the statute specifically excludes growth-inducing impacts from SCEA analysis

Stopthemillenniumhollywood.com v. City of Los Angeles (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 1[1].  Project description based on conceptual scenarios was inadequate.

  • Project description of a 4.5 acre mixed-use project in Hollywood rejected
  • EIR set forth several development scenarios, with maximum impact envelopes, court held this did not satisfy requirement to set forth an accurate, stable and finite project description
  • Court rejected argument that conceptual scenarios sufficient as long as worst case impacts disclosed – held that the EIR must actually describe a particular project
  • Court of Appeal did not address many remaining issues in case, despite Public Resources Code §21168.9 (which implies all issues should be decided) and §21005 (which states legislative intent courts should decide all issues in CEQA cases

San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition v. California Coastal Commission (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 563.  CEQA findings on mitigation were adequate and supported by substantial evidence.

  • Expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and nearby hotel approved by local port district and certified as consistent with Coastal Act by the Coastal Commission; most of the case holdings deal with Coastal Act findings and Coastal Act statute of limitations issues
  • Court upheld Commission’s CEQA findings that further mitigation of coastal access issues not feasible and statement of overriding considerations
  • Commission had found impacts were substantially reduced but not to level of insignificance – Court rejected argument that Commission had to mitigate to less than significant level, noting that CEQA and case law allow projects to be approved notwithstanding significant impacts
  • Finding that a pedestrian bridge to provide further pedestrian access to coast was infeasible was supported by cost – $42 million with no funding available – and jurisdictional issues – Port did not have jurisdiction over all the area needed for the bridge

Chico Advocates for a Responsible Economy v. City of Chico (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 839.  EIR upheld against urban decay claims.

  • Court evaluated claims that EIR required because expansion of a Wal-Mart could result in loss of “close and convenient” shopping
  • Under Sierra Club v. County of Fresno, court applied independent judgment review in determining that availability of close and convenient shopping was a psychological and social issue, not an environmental impact
  • City’s definition of urban decay was reviewed and upheld under substantial evidence standard, and 43-page analysis of decay impacts also upheld under substantial evidence standard

Citizens for Positive Growth & Preservation v. City of Sacramento (2019) xx Cal.App.5th xxx (published December 18, Third District Case No. C086345).  EIR for general plan update upheld against Planning Law challenge and a variety of CEQA claims.

  • The primary issue in this case was a planning issue – the court upheld the plan update against an argument that introductory language giving the City Council discretion to balance competing policies resulted in an internally inconsistent plan
  • The CEQA claim that the EIR failed to acknowledge significant traffic level-of-service impacts was moot, based on the new CEQA Guidelines favoring vehicle miles travelled, and based on Public Resources Code §21099, which states that, on adoption of the new Guidelines, automobile delay is not a significant impact
  • Rejection of the “no project” alternative as infeasible was upheld based on findings that the alternative would not achieve some objectives and would have greater impacts; also, petitioners made no showing that this finding was not supported by substantial evidence
  • Substantial evidence supported the City determination that recirculation was not required – various changes to the traffic standards in the Final EIR did not create any new impacts
  • Challenges to the analysis of air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and cyclist safety were rejected, because the petitioner did not demonstrate that there was no substantial evidence supporting these analyses, and there was no factual foundation for petitioner’s arguments

Note: This decision is not final.  It was published on December 18, so it becomes final on January 17, and the deadline for one of the parties to file a petition for review with the California Supreme Court is January 27.

Covington v. Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (2019) xx Cal.App.5th xxx (published December 23, Third District Case No. 080342).  Emissions limit in permit was appropriate mitigation for reactive organic gas emissions from geothermal plant, but district failed to consider additional mitigation for reactive organic gas emissions; Air District was proper lead agency.

  • The proposed plant would pump hot water, use that hot water to heat normal pentane (“n-pentane”), a reactive organic gas, within a closed system to drive a turbine to generate electricity; court held that the permit limit constituted substantial evidence that the emissions would be limited to the permitted amount – plant operator did not need to provide further evidence that this permit requirement would be met
  • EIR found that fugitive emissions from n-pentane leakage could be mitigated, but not to a less-than-significant level; commenters suggested additional mitigation for fugitive emissions (lower leak limits and leakless technology) but these measures were not adopted, and responses to comments did not explain why the measures were not feasible
  • Air district was proper lead agency; project was on federal land and air district had jurisdiction over entire project; Mono County issued a use permit for pipeline that was a small part of the project; even though Mono County has general governmental powers, it had jurisdiction over only a small part of the project

Note: This decision is not final.  It was published on December 23, so it becomes final on January 22, and the deadline for one of the parties to file a petition for review with the California Supreme Court is February 3.

 

E. CEQA Litigation Decisions

Fudge v. City of Laguna Beach (2019) 32 Cal.App.5th 193.  Challenge to city approval dismissed because project was before Coastal Commission on appeal.

  • Petitioner simultaneously challenged demolition permit for a single family home by filing trial court CEQA action and appeal to Coastal Commission
  • Coastal Commission accepted the appeal, so there would be a de novo hearing at the Commission
  • Trial court dismissed action as moot on that basis, Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal – once Commission has decided to accept appeal, Commission has jurisdiction over the matter and no relief can be granted in court action against the city

Save Lafayette Trees v. City of Lafayette (2019) 32 Cal.App.5th 148.  CEQA challenge to tree removal agreement was timely filed.

  • CEQA challenge to an agreement to allow PG&E tree trimming was properly filed within 180 days of approval decision; longer 180-day statute applied because no notice of approval posted
  • Planning law claims not timely filed, but 90-day planning law statute did not apply to CEQA claims because it would cut CEQA time period in half
  • Court distinguishes Friends of Riverside’s Hills v. City of Riverside (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 743 – in that case, CEQA claim filed within 30 days but petitioner missed 90 day planning law service of process requirement. The two statutory requirements could be harmonized there – but could not be harmonized here because applying the planning law 90 day statute to the CEQA claim would cut the CEQA time period in half

Ione Valley Land, Air and Water Alliance, LLC v. County of Amador (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 165[2].  Challenge to revised EIR limited to new issues; challenge to prior EIR barred by res judicata.

  • Trial court had found two defects in traffic analysis in EIR for mining project, County revised and recirculated the traffic analysis
  • Court rejected petitioners’ attempt to re-litigate issues that were litigated in the first round, or could have been – barred by res judicata

  

F. Depublished CEQA Decisions

 Note:  Decisions that are depublished are not citable as legal precedent, so these cases are listed here for reference only.

County of Butte v. Department of Water Resources (2019) review granted – appellate decision depublished, Supreme Court Case No. S258574.  Challenge to EIR for relicensing application to FERC preempted by Federal Power Act.

  • State Department of Water Resources prepared program EIR to evaluate its decision to file application with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for relicensing of Oroville Dam and related facilities
  • Court of Appeal had earlier decided that EIR could not be reviewed in state court, dam relicensing entirely preempted by Federal Power Act, Supreme Court directed reconsideration in light of Friends of the Eel River (2017) 3 Cal.5th 677
  • Court again held that Federal Power Act exclusively occupies the field of dam licensing and preempts state regulation, CEQA cannot be inserted into the FERC relicensing process
  • Court held market participant doctrine did not apply – the issue in this case was not state’s operation of a dam, it was attempt to impose CEQA in the federal relicensing process – this was a regulatory act only, and thus preempted
  • The Supreme Court granted review of this case on December 11, 2019. Under the court rules as recently revised, a grant of Supreme Court review does not automatically result in the depublication of an appellate decision (under the old rules, depublication did mean automatic depublication); however, in this case, the Supreme Court specifically directed that the appellate decision be depublished.

Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma (2019) appellate decision depublished by Supreme Court, First District Case No. A155606, Supreme Court Case No. S259415.  Mitigated negative declaration for winery upheld; petitioners fair argument claims not supported by substantial evidence.

  • Mitigated negative declaration for a winery upheld against a variety of claims
  • In light of detailed geotechnical reports, erosion claims were speculative, and reliance on best management practices as mitigation was not improper deferral
  • No evidence supported water supply claims in light of detailed studies and mitigation, including requirement for no net increase in water use
  • Lay evidence of visual impact was based on views of a different structure – a house – and not evidence the winery would have an impact. Court acknowledged that lay evidence can be substantial evidence under Georgetown Preservation, supra, but that was not the case here because the claims were based on view of a different structure
  • Project included substantial mitigation for fire risk, and there was no evidence of increase in fire risk. (And need for fire services not an environmental issue, per City of Hayward v. Board of Trustees of California State University (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 833).
  • Court rejected request for judicial notice of 2017 fires – documents and events did not exist or occur until after project approval.
  • In response to several requests, the Supreme Court ordered this case depublished on January 2, 2020. The basis for the depublication requests was concern about the way the court phrased the “fair argument” standard.  The court initially stated this standard as whether there “may” be a fair argument of significant impact; however, in ruling that there was no evidence to support the proffered fair argument, the court stated several times that there was no evidence to support the claim that there “will” be an impact.

 

G. Non-CEQA Cases Related to the CEQA Process

Anderson-Barker v. Superior Court (2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 528.  Unexercised agency right to documents does not render consultant documents public records.

  • Police records case holding that agency right to access documents is not sufficient to establish constructive possession of such documents
  • Relevant to Public Records claims under CEQA, because questions of constructive possession can arise with respect to consultant records – petitioners may claim consultant documents are public records if the agency contract provides for access – this case holds that such a right, if not exercised, is not sufficient to establish such documents as public records

Mesa RHF Partners, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 913.  Continuing court jurisdiction over settlement requires stipulation to that effect.   

  • Non-CEQA case involving motion to enforce settlement agreement
  • Under CCP §664.6, continuing court jurisdiction over settlement must be requested by the parties themselves (not counsel), during pendency of the case, and in writing or in court

  

III.       CEQA CASES PENDING AT THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT

             Protecting Our Water & Environmental Resources v. Stanislaus County, No. S251709

Supreme Court Case Summary:  This case presents the following issue: Is the issuance of a well permit pursuant to state groundwater well-drilling standards a discretionary decision subject to review under [CEQA] or a ministerial action not subject to review?

Case Status: Review granted November 15, 2018, fully briefed, amicus briefing included CSAC and League of Cities, awaiting assignment for oral argument.

County of Butte v. Department of Water Resources, No. S258574.

 Supreme Court Case Summary:  The Court has limited briefing to two issues. (1) To what extent does the Federal Power Act preempt application of the California Environmental Quality Act when the state is acting on its own behalf, and exercising its discretion, in deciding to pursue licensing for a hydroelectric dam project? 2. Does the Federal Power Act preempt state court challenges to an environmental impact report prepared under the California Environmental Quality Act to comply with the federal water quality certification under section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act?

Case Status: Review granted December 11, 2019.  Merits briefing underway.

   

IV. CEQA LEGISLATION – MOSTLY NEW EXEMPTIONS

A. AB 29 (Statutes 2019, chapter 791) – Route 710 closure project alternatives

  • Specifies that certain alternatives evaluated in the Route 710 closure EIR are not feasible

 

B. AB 101 (Statutes 2019, chapter 158) – Exemptions for homeless navigation center projects

  • Government Code §65660(b) (exemption for low barrier navigation centers for homeless)
  • Government Code §65913.4(c)(2) (exemption for streamlined multifamily subdivision projects meeting a long list of requirements)
  • Government Code §65913.4(h) (exemption for lease or conveyance of property for such a streamlined multifamily project)

 

C. AB 143 (Statutes 2019, chapter 336) – Exemption for homeless shelters in certain jurisdictions

  • Expands Government Code §8698.4 exemption for land transactions or financial assistance for homeless shelters located in specified jurisdictions
  • Applies to homeless shelters in the City and County of San Francisco; Alameda, Orange and Santa Clara Counties, any cities within Alameda or Orange counties, and the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose
  • These provisions are in effect through January 1, 2023. Government Code 8698.4(d).

 

D. AB 430 (Statutes 2019, chapter 745) – Ministerial process for residential projects in cities affected by 2018 Camp Fire

  • Enacts Government Code §65913.15 – ministerial process for residential projects in cities affected by the fire
  • Applies to cities of Biggs, Corning, Gridley, Live Oak, Orland, Oroville, Willows and Yuba City
  • Projects must meet a laundry list of requirements
  • Statute sunsets on January 1, 2026

 

E. AB 782 (Statutes 2019, chapter 181) – Exemption for open space acquisition

  • Enacts Public Resources Code section 21080.28 – statutory exemption for land acquisition or sale to preserve land for open space, farming, etc.
  • Similar to Guideline 15325 categorical exemption (but as statutory exemption, no exceptions can defeat this exemption)

 

F. AB 1197 (Statutes 2019, chapter 340) – Exemption for homeless shelters and supportive housing in Los Angeles

  • Enacts Public Resources Code §21080.27, exempting emergency shelters or supportive housing approved by the City of Los Angeles, or actions by specified other jurisdictions within Los Angeles to support such projects.
  • Notice of exemption must be posted with County Clerk and OPR

 

G. AB 1515 (Statutes 2019, chapter 269) – Limits remedy for community plan update cases

  • Enacts Government Code §65458.1 specifying that, if a court finds a CEQA defect in a community plan update, the approval of a specific project pursuant to that update may not be set aside
  • Applies if the project was approved, or application deemed complete, prior to the court order finding the CEQA process for the plan update to be inadequate

 

H. AB 1560 (Statutes 2019, chapter 631) – Changes definition of transit stop to add bus rapid transit.

  • Several CEQA streamlining provisions are triggered by proximity to a transit stop. This bill adds bus rapid transit to the definition of transit stop. Public Resources Code §21064.3.
  • “Bus rapid transit” is defined as bus service with dedicated lanes or right of way, service at least every 15 minutes during peak periods. Public Resources Code section 21060.2.

 

I. AB 1783 (Statutes 2019, chapter 866) – Exempts certain farmworker housing

  • Enacts Health & Safety Code 17021.8, with provisions for the ministerial approval of qualifying farmworker housing projects, and specific provision that the approval of such projects and the application of development standards to such projects are exempt from CEQA. Health & Safety Code §17021.8(f).
  • Note that there is an existing statutory exemption for farmworker housing, Pub Res C §21159.20-21159.22 – but lots of conditions and qualification
  • This new exemption has fewer conditions, but is limited to a smaller class of projects, which can consist of up to 36 beds in group quarters or up to 12 single family units. Health & Safety Code §17021.6

 

J. AB 1824 (Statutes 2019, chapter 466) – Omnibus CEQA update bill, extends rail crossing closure exemption

  •  Updates and clarifies a variety of CEQA statutory provisions
  • Extends the sunset date for the Public Resources Code §21080.14 exemption for closure of rail crossings when ordered by the CPUC, to January 1, 2025

 

K. SB 450 (Statutes 2019, chapter 344) – Exempts interim motel housing projects

  • Enacts Public Resources Code §21080.50, exemption for interim motel housing projects
  • Such projects involve the conversion of a structure with a certificate of occupancy as a hotel, motel, hostel or residential hotel, to supportive or transitional housing, with only minor expansion and no significant effects on traffic, noise, air quality or water quality
  • When this exemption is used, a notice of exemption must be posted with the Office of Planning and Research.
  • These provisions are in effect through January 1, 2025

 

L. SB 632 (Statutes 2019, chapter 411) – Deadline for CalFire EIR

  •  Sets a deadline of February 1, 2020 for the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to complete the EIR for its statewide vegetation management program. Public Resources Code C §746

 

M. SB 744 (Statutes 2019, chapter 346) – Exempts “No Place Like Home” permanent supportive housing developments.

  • Specifies that a local agency decision to seek funding for supportive housing from the “No Place Like Home” Program is not a “project” subject to CEQA. Public Resources Code 21163.1
  • Provides other streamlining for No Place Like Home projects. Public Resources Code §§21163-21163.4.
  • No Place Like Home is $2 billion program to fund supportive housing, enacted in 2016, funded through Proposition 2 approval in 2018

 

N. A Non-CEQA Bill Worth Noting – SB 330 (Statutes 2019, chapter 654) – Housing Crisis Act of 2019

  • Establishes a streamlined approval process through January 1, 2025 for residential projects that are consistent with local general plans and meet other requirements.  Gov’t C §§65589.5, 65905.5, 65913.10, 66300.
  • Sets forth various limitations designed to expedite local approvals for housing, such as a “filing freeze” that limits applicable ordinances to those in effect when a developer files a preliminary application for a project.  Gov’t C §65589.5(o).
  • Agencies must determine the historic status of a housing project site when the application is deemed complete, and that determination remains in effect unless new resources are encountered.  Gov’t C §65913.10.
  • Some provisions state that they do not limit the application of CEQA to a proposed project.  E.g., Gov’t C §65913.10(c)(1) (historic status determinations); Gov’t C §66300(f)(2)(D)(Act does not limit imposition of CEQA mitigation measures).

[1] Mike Zischke and Alex DeGood of Cox, Castle & Nicholson represented the real party in interest in this case.

[2] Mike Zischke and Jimmy Purvis of Cox, Castle & Nicholson represented the real party in interest in this case.