Lack of Environmental Study Dooms Sierra Madre Election

The Second District Court of Appeal has thrown out the results of an election in the City of Sierra Madre because the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

In a December 1999 decision, the court invalidated an April 1998 election in which voters approved a city-sponsored measure that removed 29 properties from the city’s Register of Historic Landmarks. City officials put the issue on the ballot as a way of avoiding a study of the impacts of delisting the properties. But the court sai...

Rent Control: Mobile Home Rent Control Ordinance Ruled Constitutional

The City of Montclair’s ordinance controlling rents in mobile home parks is constitutional, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court rejected mobile home park owners’ argument that the ordinance was a regulatory taking without compensation.

Citing the California Supreme Court’s decision in Santa Monica Beach, Ltd. v. Superior Court, (1999) 19 Cal.4th 952, the appellate court ruled that “a rent control ordinance is a regulatory taking if it is an arbitrary regulation of property rights....

Inverse Condemnation: Court Rules Telephone Tower Neither A Taking Nor Nuisance

Construction of a 130-foot-tall cellular telephone transmission tower does not constitute inverse condemnation of a neighboring property from which residents can see the tower, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

In a case from Butte County, the court also ruled that the tower did not constitute a nuisance because it did not harm neighbors’ use of their property.

“[W]hile we have sympathy for plaintiffs’ plight, not all plights give rise to legal rights,” Justice Daniel Kolkey wrote for th...

Taxes: State Supreme Court Will Hear Proposition 62 Case

The state Supreme Court has granted a petition for review of a case involving a city’s utility user’s tax. Six of seven justices voted to review Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. City of La Habra, 1999 Daily Journal D.A.R. 9003, in which the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that the statute of limitations had elapsed for challenging the tax. (See CP&DR Legal Digest, October 1999.)

Lawyers on either side of the case had expected the state’s high court would take the case because the decision ...

A Touch of Barcelona Would Be Grand in Los Angeles

In its own way, Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles is as strange and fantastical as the imaginary towns in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. One of the Italian novelist’s inventions is Armilla, a city that consists of nothing but a forest of water pipes, where beautiful women shower. Another is Morlana, which has a gorgeous façade of alabaster gates and coral columns, which hides a pile of trash. Yet another city is a sphere made up of twisted roads designed to prevent a woman from escaping....

Classroom Construction: The Good Ol’ Days Are Gone

When California's first "space-saver" school opens next fall in Santa Ana, it will be an immediate orphan. The program that gave birth to the school no longer exists. Instead, the state and school officials are pursuing different strategies to provide classroom space in growing urban districts, as evidenced by innovative new schools in Pomona and Long Beach.

The state space-saver program, launched with great fanfare during the early 1990s, sought to solve the problems of growing urban district...

Ruling Could Slow Brownfield Reuse

In a decision that could have implications for the cleanup of polluted industrial sites, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled that an oil company’s insurer has no responsibility to pay for state-mandated remediation.

In a 2-1 ruling, the court held that the insurer’s promise to defend a "suit" did not force the insurer to defend an administrative proceeding. Furthermore, the court said, the insurer must pay only court-ordered damages, and not fines coerced by an administr...

Logging Rules Overhaul Angers Industry and Its Environmentalists

From the viewpoint of the timber industry, the state Board of Forestry is working on a package of rules that would significantly reduce timber harvests on private property. From environmentalists’ standpoint, the board is laboring over rules that do not go nearly far enough toward protecting water courses and endangered salmon from the effects of logging.

The two sides agree on one thing — state forestry regulators do not have adequate data and analysis to make new rules.

"Our concern is t...

November 1999 Land-Use Election Results

Alameda County

City of Livermore

Voters rejected the Citizens Alliance for Public Planning (CAPP) initiative that would have required an election for a development of more than 20 units.

Measure B: No, 61.5%

City of Pleasanton

Voters defeated the CAPP initiative that would have mandated an election for a development with at least 10 units.

Measure D: No, 56.4%

City of Newark

Voters defeated an initiative that would have changed the general plan designation of 560...

Slow-Growth County Takes On Housing Officials : Santa Cruz Supervisors Reject Negotiated Housing Element

Despite five years of negotiation with state housing officials, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors has rejected a proposed housing element that would permit the county to reach its affordable housing goals largely through the unprecedented use of "granny flat" policies.

At its core, the dispute between the notoriously slow-growth county and the state is a stark example of two competing philosophies about affordable housing. Within the context of longstanding growth restrictions, count...

Clean Air Act: Environmentalists Who Filed Lawsuit Lose Appeal For Fees

An environmental group that sued a company over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act has been denied attorneys’ fees by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

The unanimous three-judge panel — which included retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White, sitting by assignment — said that in cases where the government eventually does take action, such as this one, a private party is not entitled to receive its court costs.

In November 1995, The Montana Coalition for Health, Environmen...

New Wave of Coastal Planning Comes Ashore

Like a powerful winter swell, political action related to California’s treasured coastline is generating waves in halls of local government, the capitol and even courtrooms these days. Political, environmental, and economic development interests are combining forces to create some of the most intensive changes to coastal planning since the passage of the Coastal Act in 1972. Even cities that are many miles inland could feel the effects of this beach-protection movement.

Perhaps t...

Pending Litigation: Developer Attacks Referendum Over Subdivision Agreement

Less than a week after voters decided nearly 20 growth-related ballot measures, an attorney for a developer who lost an election last January made its case to the Second District Court of Appeal. The lawyer for Costa Mesa-based Messenger Development argued that a referendum over a 3,200-home development in the City of Moorpark was illegal.

During a January special election, Moorpark voters overturned their City Council’s approval of Hidden Creek Ranch, a subdivision proposed inside Moorpark’...

Growth-Control Initiatives Receive Mixed Reception In Off-Year Election: Voters Defeat East Bay CAPP, But Development Fight Cont

In an off-year election that surprised many observers, slow-growth advocates lost battles in some surprising places, but they also claimed victories in some pro-growth cities. Most importantly, voters in the East Bay cities of San Ramon, Pleasanton and Livermore rejected the Citizens Alliance for Public Planning initiatives that would have put on future ballots all but the tiniest of developments. And, in the first test of a Ventura County SOAR growth restriction, the electorate approved rezoni...

Native Americans Agree To Follow County Rules

"I don’t have to talk to you," the developer says to the public official. "I have the right to build whatever I want, wherever I want it."

How many developers, exhausted or hamstrung by local government, have longed to say those words? And how can local government respond, when a developer actually does say those words to them — with the full support of federal law?

As it turns out, at least one group of developers in California actually can say those words, and back them up: Na...