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Second District Upholds L.A. Billboard Restrictions

The Second District Court of Appeal has ruled that the City of Los Angeles's ban on billboards advertising offsite businesses is not content-based and therefore not subject to the "strict scrutiny" test under free-speech clauses in either the U.S. or California constitution.

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Community Character Under CEQA Limited to Aesthetics, Appellate Court Rules

Resident concerns about the social and psychological impact associated with the conversion of a horse-boarding facility to a 12-lot subdivision do not constitute a "community character" issue requiring an environmental impact report, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled.

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How Scalia Found His Voice

Thirty years ago, in his first big majority opinion -- a land-use case from the California coast -- Antonin Scalia found the colorful and irreverent style that came to distinguish his career on the Supreme Court. And with one clean swipe, he knocked William Brennan out of the box and became the intellectual leader of the court.

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Carlsbad Voters Reject Tuolomne Tactic

In an absurd twist on use of the Tuolomne Tactic, Carlsbad voters have apparently overturned the city council’s decision to adopt a proposed ballot initiative approving a specific plan that would permit developer Rick Caruso to move forward with a shopping center.

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Ballot Initiative Takes Aim at Planning in Los Angeles

On the morning of Wednesday, November 9, while the nation takes stock of its future, its second-largest city will be doing the same. By then, the proposed Hollywood Palladium Residences may be one of two things: a proud testament to a progressive city's embrace of smart growth, or a 28-story symbol of the hubris of Los Angeles' planning and development community.

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Cal Supremes Deny Rehearing In Newhall Ranch Case

The California Supreme Court has denied a rehearing in Center for Biological Diversity v. Los Angeles County, the major challenge to the environmental impact report on the Newhall Ranch project.

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Presidio Trust Didn't Violate Historic Preservation Law In Planning New Development, Ninth Circuit Rules

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that The Presidio Trust can move forward with the construction of a 12-building complex commonly referred to as a "lodge" in the vicinity of the Main Parade Ground. In so doing, the court rejected arguments from the Sierra Club and a variety of historic preservation organizations that doing so would violate the Presidio Trust Act. The court also rejected the argument that the Presidio Trust's actions did not meet the consultation requirements contained in Section 110f of the National Historic Preservation Act.

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Billboard Company Has No Case Against City of Corona, Court Rules

An outdoor advertising company that erected a billboard without permits in the City of Corona was not discriminated against and did not have its constitutional rights violated by the city's action, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled.

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Insight: Consensus, Not Clarity, From Cal Supremes on CEQA

Now that comprehensive legislative reform of the California Environmental Quality Act seems unlikely, all eyes are turning to the California Supreme Court - if not for reform, then at least for clarity that will make the world of CEQA a little simpler, a little cleaner, and a little more understandable.

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Fish & Wildlife Created Physical Taking In Flooding Del Norte Subdivision

In a 61-page opinion, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled that the Department of Fish & Wildlife's actions in managing coastal flooding around Lake Tolowa and Lake Earl in Del Norte County constituted a physical taking of the adjacent landowners' property. 

However, the Third District also ruled that the regulatory processes that led to the periodic flooding of the nearby property did not constitute a regulatory taking on the part of the Coastal Commission.

The case involves the Pacific Shores subdivision in Del Norte County, located along the beach just a few miles south of the Oregon border. The 1,500-lot subdivision itself was approved in 1963. Infrastructure such as roads is in place. But no homes have ever been built on the property, partly because the Coastal Commission has never approved a local coastal program land use plan for the area.

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OPR Revises SB 743 Guidance, Putting Thresholds in "Advisory" Category

A new set of recommendations for implementing SB 743 ï¿½ which would require traffic analysis to be based on vehicle miles traveled -- proposes moving many proposed significance thresholds from the legally binding CEQA guidelines to a technical advisory memo. These recommendations also call for stricter thresholds on the so-called "regional averages" and provide simpler methodologies for dealing with safety issues. The thresholds of significance are important because they often trigger an environmental impact  report.

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Hyperloop and Hyperbole

On December 21, the Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, deployed a suite of communications satellites, and, in impressive fashion, came back down to Earth. Using its engines to dull the force of gravity, it survived re-entry and hit its football-field sized landing pad like a Tesla backing into a garage.

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No Triable Issue of Fact in AirBNB-Related Eviction Case

A Venice tenant who was renting her attic or loft out through AirBNB does not have a "triable issue of fact" on an eviction case brought against her by her landlord, the appellate division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court has ruled.

The case highlights one of a myriad of legal issues created by the such online services as AirBNB, which facilitates occupants of regular housing to rent out their bedrooms as if they were hotels, often in violation of zoning ordinances and homeowner association rules.

The case involved Joella Kraft, who lived in a rent-controlled unit in the Venice neighborhood in Los Angeles pursuant to a written agreement with the property's then-landlord dating back to 1997, which also permitted her two then-young sons to live there on a part-time basis.

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Sponsored Announcement: International Change Makers of the Built Environment Come Together in L.A. for FutureBuild

ULI Los Angeles, in partnership with VerdeXchange, announces FutureBuild 2016. This assembly of the land-use thinkers and innovators in business and government, local and worldwide, will be Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, at L.A. Downtown Hotel, 333 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071.

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Using Tuolumne Tactic, Moreno Valley Approves Development of 40 Million Square Feet

For years, National Football League teams have been trying to find places to play in the Los Angeles area. Soon enough, 700 of them could move to Moreno Valley, with room to spare.  

In what may be the largest single commercial development in the history of California - or possibly the universe - the World Logistics Center will, as currently envisioned, cover 40 million square feet, most of which will be dedicated to storage, transshipment, and other functions related to the logistics industry. It will be more than twice as large as New York City's much-heralded Hudson Yards project.

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CDFA Erred in EIR Alternatives Analysis on Pest Control Action, Court Rules

The California Department of Food & Agriculture erred in preparing an environmental impact report for a program intended to eradicate with an invasive pest without examining the long-term consequences of an alternative program to control the pest rather than eradicate it, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

As it happens, CDFA actually switched the program at the last minute from eradication to control, but the Third District said the defeat in the EIR would have been a legal problem under any circumstances. Relying on Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (2013) 57 Cal.4th 439, the Third District said CDFA's action was "prejudicial," requiring the appellate court to reverse two trial court rulings related to the case.

The case involves CDFA's efforts to eradicate the light brown apple moth, or LBAM, an invasive "leaf-roller" moth that was first seen in California in 2007. Because LBAM represented a threat to all California ornamental plants as well as fruits and vegetables, and its invasion of California was moving fast, the legislature quickly authorized CDFA to undertake a temporary LBAM program with the goal of eradicating the pest.

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Can Bertoni Help Garcetti Run L.A. City Hall's Planning Gauntlet?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday that he has selected Vince Bertoni as the city's new planning director, replacing Michael Lo Grande. Bertoni is currently planning director of Pasadena and a former deputy director in Los Angeles. Bertoni must be confirmed by the L.A. City Council.

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Court Says Anaheim Played Bait-and-Switch on Hotel Developer

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has blocked the City of Anaheim's attempt to build a surface parking lot on a property adjacent to two new hotels rather than a parking structure, as was implied in a conditional use permit the city approved in 1999.

Technically, the appellate court affirmed a trial judge's ruling that the city was estopped (a legal term essentially meaning prohibited) from enacting a subsequent conditional use permit � applying to the city's own property, not the hotel developer's property � that called for a surface lot rather than a parking garage and deviating from the city's own Resort Development Standards, which the hotel developer's own project had to meet.

The case involves a complicated arrangement in which Intercontinental Hotel Group had agreed to a smaller, redesigned project because of the city's plans to build an overpass over I-15 along Gene Autry Way that better connects Disneyland with Anaheim Stadium and other destinations east of the freeway. The overpass, which opened in 2012, takes up part of the hotel developer's property and also part of an adjacent property.

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Insight: How Will California's Cities Use Two New Redevelopment Options?

Ever since Gov. Jerry Brown killed redevelopment in 2011, the conventional wisdom has been that eventually he would give it a second life - but only after he was sure the old system was completely dead, in a way that protects the state general fund, and probably after he himself won re-election to a final term.

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Will CBIA v BAAQMD Make Infill Projects Easier To Build in California?

Last week's unanimous, finely worded ruling by the California Supreme Court has spared builders their worst-case scenario in the long-awaited "CEQA in Reverse" case. It does not interpret the California Environmental Quality Act to require an environmental impact report whenever a project might attract more people within range of an existing hazard such as air pollution or earthquake risk.

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