In what most observers called a major victory for environmentalists and federal regulatory agencies, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's practice of not considering costs when setting air quality standards.
The American Trucking Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led the fight against the EPA, saying the agency should conduct cost-benefit analyses when setting standards. But a unanimous Supreme Court disagreed, with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the court. Scalia wrote that the Clean Air Act "unambiguously bars cost considerations" from the process of setting air quality standards intended to protect the public health. In a concurring opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer found the statutory language less definitive, but he reached the same conclusion.
The February 27 decision, however, was not a complete defeat for business interests. The court did invalidate the EPA's ozone standards, finding that the agency's timing for implementation of the standards was unreasonable. Those standards, adopted in 1997, increased the number of metropolitan areas in violation of the Clean Air Act from 75 to about 400, including much of California.
The high court sent the ozone standards back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for further review. The appellate court is expected to overturn the standards outright.
The case is Whitman v. American Trucking Ass'ns Inc., No. 99-1257, 2001 Daily Journal D.A.R. 1981.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review an adult business case from Los Angeles. In Alameda Books, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, No. 98-56200, the Ninth Circuit ruled that a city ordinance prohibiting an adult bookstore from also providing adult video viewing booths was unconstitutional. (See CP&DR Legal Digest, September 2000).
The Ninth Circuit ruled that the city failed to prove the law prohibiting two adult businesses on the same site advanced a significant government interest because the city's study of "secondary effects" of dual adult operations was inapplicable.
The Supreme Court agreed to review the case during its next term, with oral arguments likely to be conducted in October. The case is No. 00-799.
An en-banc panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a case regarding regulation of private land inside an Indian reservation. The majority of Ninth Circuit judges agreed to hear Roberta Bugenig v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, No. 99-15654 (see CP&DR Legal Digest, November 2000).
Last year, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that an Indian tribe has the authority to regulate land owned by nonmembers only when given specific Congressional approval or when the land use directly affects the tribe's political integrity, economic security, or health and welfare. The Hoopa Valley Tribe does not have Congressional approval, nor did Bugenig's proposed land use directly harm the Tribe, the court ruled.
Bugenig owns 40 acres inside the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in Humboldt County. She sought permission to selectively log three acres of her property, but the tribe refused to grant permission because of impacts on a ceremonial site. When Bugenig went ahead anyway, the tribe sued her in Tribal Court and won. Bugenig then filed suit in federal court, losing at the trial court level but winning on appeal.
The decision to hear the case en-banc means the earlier appellate decision cannot be cited as precedent.
The Ninth Circuit has withdrawn a decision in a rent control case from Southern California. In Montclair Parkowners Association v. City of Montclair, No. 99-55083, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit cleared the way for the landlords to challenge the city's rent control ordinance as an uncompensated taking. (See CP&DR Legal Digest, June 2000).
A federal district court had dismissed the lawsuit because a similar one was making its way through state court. In the state litigation, The Fourth District Court of Appeal ultimately ruled that the city's ordinance was not a taking. Montclair Parkowners Association v. City of Montclair, 76 Cal.App.4th 784 (see CP&DR Legal Digest, January 2000).
The Ninth Circuit panel concluded that the federal district court had ruled properly. But because the state litigation concluded in the time between the district court's decision and the appellate panel's ruling, the federal case could proceed.
However, that three-judge panel's decision was withdrawn in February pending resolution of a different case, Green v. City of Tucson, No. 99-15625, in which a different Ninth Circuit panel reached a different conclusion regarding concurrent state and federal lawsuits. The Ninth Circuit is hearing Green en-banc.
A San Diego Superior Court judge properly removed from the ballot a 1999 initiative seeking to kill implementation of the deal between the City of San Diego and the Padres baseball team for a new stadium. The Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division 1, ruled that the initiative interfered with administrative actions of the city government, rather than legislative actions. Administrative actions may not be placed before the voters.
In making the decision, the court said its ruling rendered
Birdwatchers can legitimately state a claim of injury and therefore have standing to sue the Navy under the National Environmental Policy Act over the destruction of bird habitat on the former site of the Long Beach Naval Station, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. However, the court also held that the birdwatchers do not have standing to sue as California taxpayers.
A city resolution restricting parking on certain residential streets to residents with parking permits was categorically exempt from environmental review, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled.
An exemption to the California Environmental Quality Act for construction of a sea wall below two houses has been upheld by the Fourth District Court of Appeal. The court ruled that the potential collapse of a bluff could threaten public safety and qualified for an emergency exemption under CEQA.
In a case that touched on redevelopment law, the California Environmental Quality Act and general plan compatibility, an appellate court has upheld San Francisco's handling of a project on the site of the historic Emporium department store.
The City of Los Angeles was correct to treat as one project a builder's various proposals for 21 new houses on existing parcels on two streets, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court rejected the builder's contention that the city could not demand an environmental impact report on the 21 houses, five of which have already been built.
Opponents of a proposed recycling center were too late in filing a lawsuit regarding a city's failure to prepare an environmental study on the city's sale of land to the recycling company, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled.
When a public agency acquires a property via eminent domain, only a trial court judge -- and not a jury -- can decide whether a business should receive compensation for loss of goodwill, a state appellate court has ruled.
The California Coastal Commission's decision to allow Malibu property owners who are building new houses to exchange existing public view corridors on their property for dedication of an off-site public access to the beach has been upheld by the Second District Court of Appeal.
The City of Rancho Palos Verdes does have the authority to regulate placement of radio antennas, but the city cannot deny a use permit for an antenna solely because the antenna would be used for commercial purposes, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled.
A doughnut shop owner who remained in his place of business for six years after the city acquired the property for redevelopment still qualified for relocation benefits as a "displaced person," the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled.