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According to the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, California is facing a jaw-dropping 3.5 million unit housing deficient for the current population. This despite several legislative sessions enacting a large number of bills aimed at boosting housing production. 2023 was no different. During its first year of the current 2-year legislative cycle, Governor Newsom signed an unprecedented 56 housing bills into law, reflecting the California Legislature’s continued effort to respond to the housing crisis, and the multi-dimensional approach to developing, retaining, and permitting housing options for Californians. In sum, the housing bills intend to incentivize
Continue Reading California Continues Trend of Pushing Housing Legislation to Address Ongoing Housing Shortage

On January 30, 2024, the San Diego City Council approved an ordinance implementing Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposal to establish an extensive project labor agreement (“PLA”), which is slated to impose various conditions and restrictions on most City-funded construction projects. Most notably, the PLA establishes conditions of employment and minimum wage requirements, additional safety protocols, and other regulations imposed on contractors and their subcontractors. The PLA also sets goals and introduces incentives for the hiring of certain “Targeted Workers,” which include homeless people, the undereducated, and those that have spent time in jail or prison.
Continue Reading San Diego City Council Approves Union-Friendly Citywide Project Labor Agreement Restricting Most City Construction Projects

As we enter 2024, we once again review the most significant legislation, policy changes and regulatory actions with respect to climate change taken by California in the past year. In contrast to 2022, which brought a revamp of California’s timeline to complete its transition to zero-emission energy sources and the finalization of a $54 billion climate funding package, the headline grabber in 2023 was the passage of three bills related to corporate emissions and accountability.
Continue Reading California Climate Change Legislation, Policy and Regulation – 2023 in Review

2023 was a busy year for Prop 65 with the highest number of Notices of Violation since its inception. The California law requires consumers receive warnings regarding the presence of chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Prop 65 applies to an ever growing list of chemicals and thus impacts a wide variety of businesses in California. Below are a few trends and developments seen over 2023.
Continue Reading Proposition 65: 2023 in Review

Despite repeated attempts at reform by the Legislature, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) continues to be a minefield for those assigned with the herculean task of complying with the law’s myriad of directives. Add to the already inherent complexity of CEQA, judicial interpretation of its provisions has wide-reaching implications that can create even more potential pitfalls for those required to abide by its mandates, including decisionmakers and project proponents. Below are the summaries of the most notable CEQA cases from 2023, broken down by category.
Continue Reading 2023 Year-in-Review CEQA Litigation

Following California Supreme Court and its own case law precedent, the Second District, Division Five, has ruled in Guerrero et al. v. City of Los Angeles (Jan. 17, 2024) (Guerrero), certified for publication, that a CEQA challenge to approval of a vesting tentative subdivision map conditioned on subsequent discretionary rezoning was untimely when not filed until after the rezoning was finally approved.
Continue Reading Conditional Approval is Project Approval: Appellate Court Confirms CEQA Statute of Limitations Triggered by Tentative Map Approval Conditioned on Subsequent Rezoning

Near the end of 2023, the United States Supreme Court declined to consider the City of Costa Mesa’s appeal of a January Ninth Circuit ruling in SoCal Recovery, LLC v. City of Costa Mesa (2023) 56 F.4th 802. The decision held that sober living home operators can prove “actual disability” – as required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – without an individualized assessment of each resident. Instead, the Ninth Circuit held that admissions criteria, house rules, and testimony are sufficient to show on
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Consider Appeal of Ninth Circuit Ruling that Sober Living Homes Do Not Have to Prove Each Resident Is Disabled to Survive Summary Judgment in Challenge to Allegedly Discriminatory Zoning Laws

The 2023 legislative cycle saw another mixed-bag of legislation dealing with CEQA “reform,” with a particular focus on streamlining affordable housing development.[1] While many bills died during the process, a few key laws were passed or extended over the past year. A brief recap of those bills and their impact on CEQA is provided below.[2] 
Continue Reading CEQA 2023 Legislative Update

It is no secret that New York City continues to face an affordable housing crisis. Many experts believe this boils down to a supply problem, yet others remain skeptical. However, a recent Furman Center publication addressed supply skepticism head on, finding that adding new homes moderates price increases making housing more affordable to low- and moderate-income families, but that government intervention is still critical to securing housing affordability. Despite this and other compelling research findings, the State legislature failed to renew the 421a tax exemption in 2023. This, coupled with rising construction costs, resulted in a continuous decline in new
Continue Reading Mixed-Income Market Initiative: NYC’s Attempt to Spur Affordable Housing Development

Pamela Westhoff and Meigan Everett’s article “A Landlord’s Guide to Assistive Animals” was recently featured in the Daily Journal. The article broaches the topic of pets in the workplace, including: the difference between service animals and emotional support animals (in the context of commercial tenants and landlords); legal definitions of the two categories of assistive animals; related contractual, verification, and disclosure issues to consider; leasing industry guidance on this topic; and additional tips on preventing or resolving disputes.
Continue Reading A Landlord’s Guide to Assistive Animals

With the recent Gulf Auction falling short of expectations and projects on the East Coast faltering, many have adopted a bearish stance on the U.S. offshore wind sector. However, California recently passed two new bills to support the state’s burgeoning offshore wind industry: the Offshore Wind Advancement Act (AB 3) and the California Offshore Wind Expediting Act (SB 286). These bills, which take effect January 1, 2024, have the potential to significantly impact offshore wind development in California.
Continue Reading New Bills Advance California’s Offshore Wind Strategy

Over a year ago, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the “City of Yes”, a plan to update the City’s zoning tools to support small businesses, create affordable housing, and promote sustainability. On December 6, 2023, the first of this trio, known as the “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality” zoning text amendments (“COYCN”) was officially approved by the City Council. The passage of COYCN marks a huge victory in the City Administration’s efforts to decarbonize the City’s energy grid, building stock, vehicles, and waste streams. 
Continue Reading NYC’s Zoning for Carbon Neutrality is Here to Stay

Local ordinances prohibiting camping or sleeping outdoors have created widespread controversy. Affected cities and states contend that the two Ninth Circuit rulings on the issue are confusing and preclude them from implementing effective strategies to address homelessness, while homeless advocates argue that these decisions are necessary to prevent criminalization of involuntary homelessness. However, there is potential clarity on the horizon as the Supreme Court is poised to decide whether to hear the case next term.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Weighs Whether to Clarify Camping Bans and Homelessness Policies

Under California’s Proposition 65 (“Prop 65”), businesses are required to give “clear and reasonable warnings” to consumers regarding potential chemical exposure if their product contains a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer.” In the recent decision Nat’l Association of Wheat Growers, et al. v. Bonta, et al., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal explored businesses’ First Amendment rights and the government’s ability to compel commercial speech. The Ninth Circuit found that the State of California cannot compel businesses to provide a Prop 65 warning for glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in the world. 
Continue Reading The Intersection of Prop 65 and Free Speech: A Recent Win for Businesses

New York’s rent stabilization laws, amended in 2019, are arguably the most stringent in the country. Challenges to New York’s rent regulations are not new, and come from both sides of the aisle, tenants and landlords alike. But unlike prior changes, the 2019 amendments hit a chord with New York City landlords who had, generally, made quite expensive investments in residential properties based on projected rent increases commensurate with rising costs and market demand. In 2019, with the passing of these amendments to New York’s rent stabilization laws, landlords’ projected assumptions and operating budgets went completely out the window along
Continue Reading New York’s Rent Stabilization Laws Are Here to Stay, For Now At Least…