The City Councilmembers appointed themselves the final arbiter of whether a project met SB 35 requirements. Then they overruled their own staff. But in the end, it was really just about vagueness and inconsistency between the general plan and the zoning ordinance.
In response to the Berkeley enrollment case, the Legislature is likely to do something. Exempting student and faculty housing would weaken CEQA -- but Justice Goodwin Liu laid out another path that could truly reform it.
The University of California tried to finesse the fact that Berkeley had blown past its enrollment target without doing additional CEQA analysis. And maybe the judge didn't have to "go nuclear" on this case. But the question of whether population growth in and of itself demands lengthy environmental analysis holds major implications for general plans in cities and counties throughout California.
As a recent San Diego ruling reveals, cities have no choice but to defend their decisions to abide by statutes like the Density Bonus Law. At the same time, they are trying to "thread a needle" to challenge those laws in court.
In turning down a 48-unit condominium project near Beach Boulevard, did Huntington Beach violate the Housing Accountability Act's requirement that findings be based on objective standards? Or will a fire expert's 11th-hour conclusion that one standard was violated be enough to save the city's case?