Real Estate, Land Use & Environmental Law Blog

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The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on August 30 vacated the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) that redefined “waters of the United States” for purposes of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, effectively reinstating the definition in effect prior to 2015.  Under that prior definition, many ephemeral streams and isolated wetlands that were not subject to federal jurisdiction under the NWPR will again be subject to case-by-case determinations of their status.  The case, Pasqua Yaqui Tribe v. EPA, CV-20-00266-TUC-RM (D. Ariz.), is one of several challenging the NWPR, and the outcome leaves unanswered questions about the scope of…
On Wednesday, July 14, at 10 am, the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) held its public hearing on the Department of City Planning’s proposed hotel special permit text .  Over the past two months, the proposal has been considered by the City’s Borough Presidents and Community Boards, with a number of Community Boards voting in support, and a number of Community Boards voting against the City’s proposal to implement a special permit requirement for all new hotels.  At the public hearing, the Commissioners received public comments regarding the proposal. A number of City Council Members, other elected officials, neighborhood…
In Alliance for Responsible Planning v. Taylor, the Third District Court of Appeal recently struck down a voter initiative requiring a developer to fund all cumulative traffic mitigation as a condition precedent to project approval as an unconstitutional taking.  More specifically, the Court found that El Dorado County’s Measure E, which was adopted in 2016 and amended the County of El Dorado general plan (General Plan) to require developers to fund traffic improvements prior to the issuance of discretionary approvals needed to develop the remainder of the project, would require a development pay more than its fair share.…
The decades-long battle over organic certification of hydroponically grown foods is poised for resolution, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals set to decide an appeal by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) in a case that seeks to block certification of foods not grown in soil.  On May 19, 2021, CFS filed an appeal asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse a district court decision upholding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s determination that hydroponically grown foods are eligible for certification under the National Organic Program (NOP).  The outcome of the appeal could have significant implications both for hydroponically grown fruits…
Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 7, the “Housing + Jobs Expansion & Extension Act”, which extends and expands California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining provisions.  As previously discussed in our February blog post, “California Senate Returns Its Focus to Housing in 2021-2022 Legislative Session,” SB 7 is the first bill from the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package to be signed and enacted this year.  SB 7 extends through 2025 the streamlined CEQA administrative and judicial review procedures developed for Environmental Leadership Development Projects (ELDPs) under Assembly Bill (AB) 900 in…
On Wednesday, June 2, the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee voted to proceed with expanding Fire District 1 after receiving a report produced by the Department of Building and Safety, Fire Department, and City Planning Department.  The report analyzed the potential impacts of the expansion of Fire District 1, which prohibits certain construction types in limited areas of the City of Los Angeles, such as Downtown and Hollywood.  The report concluded that the expansion of Fire District 1 would result in an increase in construction and materials cost and would likely reduce the financial feasibility of affordable housing…
On Monday, May 3, 2021, the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) “referred” the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) proposed zoning text that would mandate a Special Permit for all new hotels in New York City, beginning the City’s public review process for approval of the proposed text.  This proposed Hotel Special Permit will be applicable to all new hotel developments, changes of use, conversions or enlargements to a hotel use in a building that did not previously contain a hotel use, or an enlargement of an existing hotel use that increases the existing floor area by 20% or more. …
Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council adopted a motion entitled Building a Safer Los Angeles (“Motion”) that would significantly expand the fire rating requirements for new buildings and restrict the use of light wood-frame construction throughout large parts of the City of Los Angeles.  The Motion is broadly written and, contrary to some reports in the press, it does not call for exemptions based on building size or square footage.…
Not your average game of patty-cake! Earlier this week, New York’s  First Department, Appellate Division issued its decision related to 200 Amsterdam,[1] overturning the lower court’s decision which would have required 200 Amsterdam to remove several floors of its building in order to comply with zoning.  The lower court determined that the NYC Zoning Resolution did not permit a developer to utilize a portion of a tax lot to merge with a neighboring zoning lot.…
In March, the Southern California Association of Governments (“SCAG”)[1] will adopt final Regional Housing Needs Assessment (“RHNA”) allocations for cities and counties within the SCAG region.  This 6th RHNA cycle represents the first update to these targets since the passage of key housing legislation, including Senate Bill (“SB”) 35[2], which grants ministerial approval and streamlining of qualifying housing projects if the jurisdiction has failed to meet its RHNA targets.  Housing developers planning for potential investment can look to these production targets to assess regional and city-based needs.  Cities and counties also will update their Housing Element and…
The new 2021-2022 California legislative session has kicked off with the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package, its latest effort to tackle zoning and California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) reforms in an effort to address California’s ongoing housing crisis.  “Each one of these bills is targeted at an element of the housing crisis, and together, they give us a unified approach that would create pathways to home ownership, stable housing for vulnerable families, and a pathway to economic stability for Californians across the golden state,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins when announcing the housing package. As anticipated…
Effective February 1, 2021, the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom approved  Senate Bill (“SB”) 91 – Eviction Protection and Relief Act in further response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  In essence, SB 91 extends core tenant protections established by August 2020’s Assembly Bill (“AB”) 3088,[1] but also establishes the State Rental Assistance Program, provides rental assistance for landlords and tenants, and closes existing loopholes in AB 3088.…
In follow up to the New York City Department of City Planning’s (DCP), January 22nd, public hearing on the Draft Scope of Work for the City’s proposed Hotel Special Permit text amendment, there were several speakers both in support of and in opposition to the proposed legislation.  Of note, were five elected officials who testified in support of the Hotel Special Permit, with a unified message, that the development of hotels takes away opportunities for affordable housing in this City, and therefore, hotels must be regulated at a higher level than other uses.  Generally, the opposition cited to the City’s…
On December 30, 2020, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the “Department”) promulgated statewide ambient limits on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions for the years 2030 and 2050 (the “Regulations”).[1]  The GHGs covered by the Regulations include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons.[2]  The final Regulations constitute a critical step in the implementation of New York State’s climate strategy set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”).…
The California Legislature made modest gains on housing production and stimulus bills in 2020, and there are several notable bills that took effect on January 1, 2021.  The new laws tackle COVID-19, project permit streamlining and planning, residential density bonus, and the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).  Below is a summary of these new laws.…
This past week, in a 4 to 3 decision,  New York’s highest court – the Court of Appeals – decided an important New York City land use question regarding how “open space” is accessed by residents on a zoning lot with multiple buildings In the Matter of Randy Peyton, et al v. NYC Board of Standards and Appeals, et al.  This rollercoaster ride ended with the Court of Appeals overturning the First Department, Appellate Division’s decision, and ultimately agreeing with the NYC Department of Buildings original application of the law, which was affirmed by the quasi-judicial NYC Board of…