Sara Torf Fulton's blog


County of Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles

The latest illustration of intergovernmental non-cooperation examines the circumstances in which cities can route sewer lines through county rights of way, all without county approval.

Chula Vista Bayfront Plan Shows Power of Consensus-Building

Early one Sunday morning in early February, the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista – a fixture on San Diego Bay for decades – was blown up. But it wasn’t because terrorists had targeted the plant.

Redondo Beach Voters Decline to Phase Out Power Plant

After a bruising campaign that saw energy company AES spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, Redondo Beach voters have rejected a local ballot initiative that would have rezoned AES’s beachfront power plant to parks and commercial uses.

AES still must receive California Energy Commission approval to rebuild the plant, which must stop using ocean water to cool its steam turbines no later than 2020. Defeat of Measure A, however, makes CEC approval of continuing power plant operations more likely.

Judge Upholds High-Speed Rail EIR Against Peninsula Cities’ Challenge

A Sacramento Superior Court judge has – for the second time – ruled against three Peninsula cities who filed suit against the High-Speed Rail Authority under the California Environmental Quality Act.

There’s No Undoing Those Hardened Commute Patterns

Not long ago, the Census Bureau released some new analyses of commuting, focused especially on “mega-commuting” – that is, commuters who drive more than 50 miles and 90 minutes one way. The numbers are predictably frightening – these folks travel extremely long distances, using up a lot of time, gas, and road capacity on the process.

But mega-commuters only make up about 2% of all commuters. The bigger message from the Census data is a much more prosaic – and discouraging – message about ordinary, day-to-day commuting.

What’s Next for CEQA: Major Reform or Incrementalism?

Is the California Environmental Quality Act finally on the verge of major reform?

Or will CEQA’s defenders succeed in limiting the reform to just nibbling around the edges, without attacking the law’s basic structure?

It’s Groundhog Day For Steinberg’s Redevelopment Bill

Like the plot of the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, Sacramento politicians are back to the same story on redevelopment this year. It's a re-run of last year, with proponents of redevelopment re-introducing many of the same bills as last year. 

Attempts to resurrect redevelopment were a flop in 2012 when Governor Jerry Brown vetoed most redevelopment-related bills. This year, there is hope for a different ending, where Brown and his Democratic allies can find themselves in agreement on future steps to aid economic development at the local level. 

Insight: Infill Projects Sued More Often Under CEQA – But Greenfield Projects Lose More Often

Everybody always loves to complain about the California Environmental Quality Act, but despite all the complaining we don’t now much about how effective it really is and what all the CEQA activity adds up to.

Rip Van Winkle Scalia Wakes Up in Koontz

If the oral argument is any indication, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to rule against a landowner in Florida who filed a takings lawsuit against an Orlando-area water district – turning what appeared to be an easy victory for property rights advocates into a loss. 

Banning Ranch EIR Upheld by Appellate Court

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has upheld the City of Newport Beach’s environmental impact report for the Banning Ranch development, rejecting a challenge by a local conservancy which asserted piecemeal environmental review and the adequacy of the impacts of a park the city is building adjacent to Banning Ranch. The court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment and denial of the writ.

Validation Lawsuit Doesn’t Always Immunize Plaintiff From Attack

In many situations, the settlement of a lawsuit is a flexible tool to resolve disagreements between parties and allow the participants to move on with their lives. A settlement with a public agency invokes slightly different considerations then a matter resolved exclusively through private parties. As previously noted in Trancas Property Owners Association v.