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Tips to Ensure You Exhaust Your Administrative Remedies and Don’t Get Ensnared by Res Judicata. CEQA is a common tool used to oppose land use projects in California by interested parties. For example, environmental groups may comment on a project through the CEQA process to ensure impacts are avoided and adequately mitigated.  Those in the NIMBY camp (Not In My Back Yard) may use CEQA to stop development or at least decrease the magnitude of development by citing traffic impacts, inconsistency with a City’s Land Use Plan, or aesthetics impacts.  It is often thought that labor unions use CEQA to oppose project to…
Opportunity Zones Promise Great Rewards, but to reap the rewards, investors should beware of land use and zoning associated with opportunity zones. Opportunity Zones are intended to spur private investment in low-income areas that have been designated by California as Opportunity Zones. See here for a map of opportunity Zones by GovOps.  While much has been written on the tax benefits of Opportunity Zones, this article addresses some common land use hurdles that arise in California.      As the recent Forbes article noted, “[t]he [Opportunity Zone Fund] rules favor ground-up real estate development due to the requirement that invested capital…
Private parties who plan to jump into a real property transaction with a public agency should be aware that their deal could be impacted or held up by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  If not fully informed of the recent legal developments pertaining to CEQA compliance and real property, parties may find themselves unable to close the deal on time or caught up in lengthy and costly litigation.  The important takeaway from this article is to ensure that a party’s overall risk assessment when conducting a real property transaction with a public agency include a line item for CEQA…
Last month, the Supreme Court, in the case Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (2018) 6 Cal. 5th 502, clarified that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) must disclose and inform the public of the human health effects associated with a project’s impacts to air quality and emissions. The court wasn’t swayed by the County’s argument made during legal briefing (not in the EIR) that there isn’t enough scientific modeling available at this time to explain the connections between emissions and human health. However, the court seemed to leave the door open as to…
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working on a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report* (PEIR or Program EIR) for Marine Aquaculture also known as Mariculture.  The PEIR is currently expected to cover culturing of shellfish and algae and finfish aquaculture on state water bottom leases issued by the California Fish and Game Commission.** THIS PEIR SHOULD BE OF INTEREST TO THOSE LOOKING TO GET INTO THE MARICULTURE INDUSTRY IN CALIFORNIA BECAUSE IF THE PEIR HAS AN ADEQUATE LEVEL OF DETAIL AND MITIGATION MEASURES, BUSINESSES MAY BE ABLE TO “TIER” OFF IT.  BEING ABLE TO TIER OFF A PEIR…
A city approved a use permit to construct three new single-family homes on steeply sloped terrain that was also in a mapped earthquake zone. In approving the project, the city relied on the “Class 3” Categorical Exemption from CEQA, which applies to “construction and location of limited numbers of new, small facilities or structures,” including “up to three single-family residences” in “urbanized areas.” (Guidelines, § 15303, Berkeley Hills Watershed Coalition v. City of Berkeley(2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 880, 887.) An opponent challenged the City’s approval on several grounds, including that the project was not exempt because the “Location” exception to the CEQA…