Orange County


Court Says Anaheim Played Bait-and-Switch on Hotel Developer

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has blocked the City of Anaheim’s attempt to build a surface parking lot on a property adjacent to two new hotels rather than a parking structure, as was implied in a conditional use permit the city approved in 1999.

Technically, the appellate court affirmed a trial judge’s ruling that the city was estopped (a legal term essentially meaning prohibited) from enacting a subsequent conditional use permit – applying to the city’s own property, not the hotel developer’s property – that called for a surface lot rather than a parking garage and deviating from the city’s own Resort Development Standards, which the hotel developer’s own project had to meet.

The case involves a complicated arrangement in which Intercontinental Hotel Group had agreed to a smaller, redesigned project because of the city’s plans to build an overpass over I-15 along Gene Autry Way that better connects Disneyland with Anaheim Stadium and other destinations east of the freeway. The overpass, which opened in 2012, takes up part of the hotel developer’s property and also part of an adjacent property. 

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San Clemente Must Return Unused Parking Impact Fees, Fourth District Rules

The City of San Clemente must refund $10 million in beach parking impact fees accumulated over a 20-year period because it did not build parking facilities with the money nor make the necessary findings under the Mitigation Fee Act to retain the money for more than five years, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled.

San Clemente imposed the “Beach Parking Impact Fee” of $1,500 per unit in 1989 because it concluded that new residential development in inland area of the city would increase the demand for parking near the beach. The city collected $10 million in the next 20 years but expended only $350,000 to purchase one parcel of property. 

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Bias Councilmember Should Not Have Been Permitted to Appeal Permit Decision, Court Rules

The City of Newport Beach improperly permitted a councilmember who was openly opposed to a bar’s permit to appeal the planning commission’s decision granting the permit and to vote on the permit appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled. The appellate court also ruled that the trial court should not have granted the city a preliminary injunction to block the bar from operating under the permit approved by the planning commission.

On the question of whether the councilmember should have been permitted to appeal the permit, the appellate court wrote sharply: “The city council violated the rules laid down in the city’s own municipal code, then purported to exempt itself from that code by invoking some previously undocumented custom of ignoring those rules when it comes to council members themselves.”

Regarding the preliminary injunction, the court wrote: “It is hard to maintain the city’s actions were likely to be upheld when it had no authority to act in the first place.”

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.

Anaheim Reinvents the Train Station

The $188 million Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), which broke ground earlier this month, is the most recent example of a fast-growing list of public facilities with big ambitions: the local transit hub that connects local and regional transit rail lines with bus service, taxies, bicycle locks and sometimes business services for travelers.  The anticipation of high-speed rail also adds some drama to the Anaheim transit center. 

Disney's Newest Attraction Turns Cars into Fantasy

Just as new policies are arising in California to wean Californians off their cars, a force more powerful than public policy has arisen to get the next generation all amped up about driving. No, gas prices haven't plummeted and high speed rail isn't dead (yet). Those would be child's play compared to Cars Land -- the newest "world" at Disney's California Adventure theme park. 

Individual Patients Cannot Sue to Overturn Zoning Prohibiting Marijuana Dispensaries

Though medical marijuana may be legal in California, cities thus far have no obligation to ensure that patients have ready access to cannabis-based medicines. There have been several attempts by medical marijuana dispensary proponents to get the courts to recognize the right of prospective proprietors and co-ops to establish dispensaries, regardless of what the local zoning code allows. Thus far, these attempts have failed. The most recent attempt in Traudt v. City of Dana Point (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 886, is no different.

Sunset Beach Lawsuit Clouds Future of ‘Island’ Annexations

The Malibu policeman's immortal warning "keep out of my beach community!" in the 1998 leisure-sport epic The Big Lebowski could just as easily have been uttered last autumn by certain residents of Orange County's unincorporated community of Sunset Beach. In this case, though, they would not be shouting at The Dude but rather at the entire City of Huntington Beach.

Instead, a group of Sunset Beach residents are suing the City of Huntington Beach for, they say, unfairly imposing a 5% Users Utility Tax on them. 

Irvine Co. Land Donation Keeps Some of OC Wild

Orange County is known for its miles of tract homes, car traffic and a booming economy. Much of that growth is due to the work of the Irvine Company, which has shaped a swath of the central county through its control and development of 93,000 acres that were once one of California's great ranches.

Adult Business' First Amendment Rights Prevail Over Procedural Constraints

In a case involving the City of Stanton’s “sensitive use ordinance,” the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled that the city’s handling of an application for an adult business was flawed. 

On December 1, 2008, Musa Madain submitted tenant improvement plans for a proposed adult cabaret on Katella Avenue. At the same time, he allegedly also attempted to submit the appropriate application and fee for an adult business. However, Madain claims he was told by city staff at the planning counter that the application and fee were not necessary. Two weeks later, Madain received a letter from the city manager stating his tenant improvements were rejected on the grounds his application was incomplete and that it was proposed within 300 feet of a “planned” church.