Land Use Matters Publication November 2014

Land Use Matters, Alston & Bird LLP, November 2014.

Land Use Matters

City of Los Angeles

Department of Building and Safety

Inspection Case Management Program

In support of Mayor Garcetti’s “Back to Basics” agenda for city governance, the Department of Building and Safety has introduced an Inspection Case Management (ICM) program to facilitate the construction inspection process for projects with a construction valuation above $10 million and for restaurants and charter schools. Case managers will work with construction and inspection teams to resolve inspection and code interpretation issues, mobilize same-day inspections and facilitate the issuance of Certificates of Occupancy. As a service for major projects, ICM will provide a full-time department inspector as the case manager whose compensation will be funded by the specific project. To apply for the ICM service, click here.

California Environmental Quality Act

Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento (Third App. District, 11/20/14)

The court upheld the recent CEQA legislation that established accelerated timelines for expedited CEQA review and litigation for the new basketball arena in downtown Sacramento. The plaintiff challenged the legislation on constitutional grounds, claiming that it violated the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government. The court rejected that claim on a number of different grounds. Most notably, the court held that the Legislature acted within its powers since it had the greater power of completely eliminating any CEQA review for a particular project without running afoul of any constitutional protection. Further, the court held that while the timeline for judicial review was “extremely aggressive,” the timeframes were legally permissible since the legislation required implementation of the accelerated timeline “to the extent feasible.” The court noted that the legislation did not impose any penalties for not meeting the accelerated litigation deadlines and therefore, the deadlines were only “suggestive.” For those reasons, the court held that there was no violation of the separation of powers doctrine. Download Opinion

Paulek v. California Dept. of Water Resources (Fourth App. District, 10/31/14)

The court rejected a challenge to an environmental impact report (EIR) prepared by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for three activities aimed at improving the Perris Dam in Riverside County. The bulk of the decision addressed the plaintiff’s claim of improper project segmentation and piecemealing. The draft EIR evaluated the impacts of three different activities aimed at improving dam operations and flood control. In response to public comments, the DWR removed one of the activities from further consideration in order to evaluate more alternatives for that activity in a later CEQA document. The court held that the DWR’s decision did not constitute project segmentation or piecemealing for a variety of reasons, including (1) the removed (or third) activity was not a “reasonably foreseeable consequence” of the two other activities, (2) the approval of the other two activities did not “legally or practically compel completion” of the third activity, (3) the third activity was not an “integral part” of the two approved activities because the two approved activities will accomplish their stated purpose whether or not the third activity was ever implemented, and (4) the third activity was not a future expansion of the two approved activities. Download Opinion

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This publication by Alston & Bird LLP provides a summary of significant developments to our clients and friends. It is intended to be informational and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation. This material may also be considered attorney advertising under court rules of certain jurisdictions.

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