The California Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of a 1994 law that allows religious organizations to exempt themselves from local historic preservation laws.
The court agreed to take the case of East Bay Local Development Corp. v. State of California, 69 Cal.App.4th 1033 (1999), in which the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the exemption for religious groups did not violate the federal and state constitutional ban on establishing religion. Historic preservation advocates lamented the ruling, and developers contended religious groups received an unfair economic advantage.
About 40 years ago, the Legislature gave cities and counties authority to impose special conditions to protect locally designated historic places or structures. But a 1994 law (AB 133) said a religious corporation could exempt itself from local laws intended to protect landmarks if the religious group would suffer a financial hardship or be hindered in its religious mission.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Joe S. Gray ruled that the religious exemption was unconstitutional. But the appellate court reversed Gray. "The exemption provided by AB 133 does not constitute an endorsement of religion," the court said. "Although exemption is limited to nonprofit religiously affiliated organizations, it does no more than facilitate the efforts of those organizations to advance their own purposes." The appellate court also rejected arguments that AB 133 conflicted with the constitution's equal protection clause.
In a petition to the state Supreme Court, the City and County of San Francisco and historic preservation groups said the exemption would have a devastating effect on preservation programs. They also argued that AB 133 discriminates against nonreligious owners of landmarks. State lawyers, however, followed the appellate court's reasoning that AB 133 actually aided separation of church and state by removing a government regulation affecting religious affairs.
Voting to review the appellate court's opinion were Chief Justice Ronald George, and Justices Joyce Kennard, Ming Chin and Janice Brown.
A city may not use an interim ordinance to suspend the processing of development applications during a general plan update, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled.
The appellate panel threw out a City of San Juan Capistrano interim ordinance that stopped the processing of applications for certain large parcels. The ordinance, first adopted in June 1998, stalled Concorde Development's application for the 356-unit Whispering Hills subdivision and golf course on the eastern edge of the south coas...
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act applies to local zoning ordinances, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled.
The decision stemmed from a City of Antioch urgency ordinance that prevented a methadone treatment clinic from opening on an appropriately zoned site. The unanimous three-judge appellate panel reversed a ruling by District Court Judge Susan Illston, who agreed ADA applies to local zoning but refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the city.
Sewer connection fees and capacity charges are not the same as development fees imposed as a condition of project approval, meaning they are not subject to the conditions of the Mitigation Fee Act, The Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court decided that a hotel builder was not entitled to a refund of unspent sewer connection fees, as the developer might be to unspent development fees.
The unanimous three-judge panel ruled that the Government Code (§ 66013) specifically excludes sewer con...
Treasurer Phil Angelides and Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed papers in San Bernardino County Superior Court to halt a planned $15 million bond sale by two Central Valley cities. The bonds would finance a housing development 300 miles away in San Bernardino County.
Angelides and Lockyer filed an answer to a validation action submitted by the Rancho Lucerne Valley Public Financing Authority. The Superior Court will now conduct a trail to determine if the bond sale can go forward.
Waterford, a 6,60...
Claims that Sacramento County violated the California Environmental Quality Act while approving a commercial development have been dismissed by the Third District Court of Appeal because the project opponent did not submit a written request for a hearing within 90 days of filing a lawsuit.
The attorney for opponent Forster-Gill, Inc., argued that a telephone call to the court clerk within the 90-day period was adequate, but the appellate court disagreed, ruling that the law "plainly contemplates a written request that can be, and is, filed with the court."
A state appellate court has upheld the California Coastal Commission's denial of a development permit for a small mixed-use project in Morro Bay.
The court rejected developer Dan Reddell's arguments that the commission violated his due process and equal protection rights, and that its decision was a regulatory taking of property. Instead, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled that substantial evidence supported the commission's finding that Reddell's project was inconsistent with Morro Bay's local coastal plan (LCP).
A state appellate court has thrown out an Inyo County general plan amendment that the county argued was nothing more than a clarification of a longstanding policy.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two, concluded that the amendment was more than a mere clarification and that the county should have completed an environmental impact report before approving the amendment.
A City of West Hollywood moratorium on new multi-family housing development has been declared invalid by the Second District Court of Appeal. The court ruled that the city had not made required findings for the moratorium.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has set back a plan to develop the country's largest solid waste landfill near Joshua Tree National Park. The court ruled that the environmental analysis for the project was inadequate and that the Bureau of Land Management undervalued land it would provide to the landfill developer.
A state appellate court has struck down a California Environmental Quality Act exemption for an air district rule permitting new power plants to offset emissions by paving roads. The court found that the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District did not have adequate evidence to support its finding that the rule could not have a negative impact on the environment.
A developer is not entitled to reimbursement or damages from a consultant hired by a local government to complete an environmental impact report, the First District Court of Appeal has ruled. Even when the consultant fails to complete an EIR in a timely manner, the consultant owes no contractual duty to the developer that paid for the consultant, the court concluded.