Orange County


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.”

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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. 

Irvine Embraces Infill

Jamboree Road might not become the next Park Avenue, but a new vision plan recently completed by the City of Irvine signals a major shift away from the suburban lifestyle of Orange County. One of the early cities to pioneer the strict segregation of office-park style commercial development from master-planned residential areas, Irvine will be allowing thousands of new residential units into its business core in the coming decades. 

Liquidation of State Property Puts Costa Mesa Voters in Control of Fairgrounds

Whether or not the state’s “fleet reduction” plan to sell 11 properties for an estimated $2 billion makes the slightest bit of fiscal sense remains to be seen (see CP&DR Blog April 29, 2010). As the state wallows in a $20 billion deficit, the most palpable impacts of the sale may fall someplace other than Sacramento, including Costa Mesa.

Wary of intensive development of the 150-acre site of the Orange County Fairgrounds, residents of the City of Costa Mesa will vote on whether to amend the city’s general plan requiring voter approval for any future zoning changes or major developments. The intent of the plan is to ensure that any future, post-sale uses will remain consistent with the site’s historical uses.