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State Agencies Cannot Use State Budgetary Uncertainties to Escape Mitigation Obligations under CEQA

August 5, 2015

By Neill Brower

The California Supreme court determined the California State University ("CSU") could not rely solely on earmarked appropriations from the State Legislature for payment of "fair share" mitigation fees the CSU determined necessary for full mitigation of impacts, and the absence of specific legislative appropriations for mitigation fees did not render payment of mitigation fees infeasible. On August 3, 2015, the California Supreme Court filed its decision in City of San Diego v. Bd. of Trustees of the California State University, Case No. S199557, rejecting the notion that the contingent nature of State budgeting excused a failure to commit to enforceable mitigation for off-campus impacts resulting from on-campus development. Further, because the CSU relied on the purported infeasibility of paying mitigation fees as a basis for its Statement of Overriding Considerations, the Statement of Overriding Considerations was unsupported by substantial evidence as to that finding.

In this case, the CSU approved an Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") to expand the San Diego State University ("SDSU") campus to accommodate, among other significant components; a hotel, academic research, medical, social, administrative, and conference facilities; faculty and student housing; a 10,000-student enrollment increase; and associated increases in faculty and staff by 2030 school year. Among other impacts, the EIR determined the project would result in significant contributions to cumulative traffic impacts on off-campus roads in the City of San Diego and Caltrans jurisdictions. The EIR determined the specific improvements required to mitigate these impacts and calculated the "fair-share" fees necessary to construct those improvements.

Continue reading "State Agencies Cannot Use State Budgetary Uncertainties to Escape Mitigation Obligations under CEQA" »

Government & Land Use Lawyer Daniel F. Freedman Joins Jeffer Mangels in Los Angeles

April 13, 2015

Los Angeles -- The Government, Land Use, Environment & Energy Group of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is pleased to welcome Daniel Freedman as an associate in its Los Angeles office.

Mr. Freedman's experience includes representing and advising clients on matters relating to real estate development, zoning, project entitlements, CEQA, NEPA, federal and state environmental law, and governmental advocacy. He has advised clients working major commercial, residential, and industrial developments, renewable energy, high-speed rail, billboard siting, mining and government contracting. Daniel also has civil litigation experience in both state and federal courts.

"In addition to his impressive legal experience, Daniel's consulting background in government and public affairs will bring an added dimension of effectiveness for our clients," said Benjamin M. Reznik, Chair of JMBM's Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department.

Prior to entering the legal profession, Daniel advised government agencies, energy and infrastructure development companies, and environmental organizations on issues relating to environmental policy, government affairs, and political strategy. He also organized and managed regional and statewide advocacy and outreach campaigns on environmental policy and regulatory issues, and clients working on complex projects such as concentrated solar, off-shore liquefied natural gas terminals, waste-to-energy, long-haul transmission, wind energy, carbon capture and sequestration and water infrastructure. Daniel also takes pride in his role as co-founder and board chairman of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative, an executive committee member of the Bet Tzedek New Leadership Council, and volunteer for United in Harmony. Daniel is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Conservation Resources Studies, and UCLA where he earned his Master's degree in Urban Planning. He then received his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

"I'm excited to join a law firm with such a strong reputation for effective advocacy in the land use and environment arena," said Freedman. "I look forward to contributing to the success of our clients."

About JMBM's Government, Land Use, Environment & Energy Group

JMBM's land use attorneys represent a wide range of industries, businesses, trade groups and individuals with interests before all levels of local, state and federal government, especially throughout California. Our particular strength is handling all permitting and compliance issues for clients seeking to locate and develop new sites, relocate or expand operations. Projects we have helped move through the approval process include residential developments and apartment complexes, hotels, shopping centers, theaters, office buildings, and a wide range of industrial projects such as mines, energy plants and manufacturing facilities. Jeffer Mangels is recognized as a "2015 Best Law Firm" by U.S. News & World/Best Lawyers®, ranking in the first tier for Land Use and Zoning Law in Metropolitan Los Angeles.

Developers of single- and multi-family density bonus projects should submit their applications now

December 5, 2014

By Neill Brower and Sheri Bonstelle

AB2222: Significant Changes to California's Density Bonus Law Occur on January 1, 2015

On January 1, 2015, California Assembly Bill 2222 (Nazarian) goes into effect and modifies the State's Density Bonus Law by establishing significant additional constraints on density bonus projects. Key measures of this bill include:


  • Mandatory replacement of all existing affordable units on a site for the density bonus to apply. Affordable units will include, among others:

  • Affordable units;

  • Rent-stabilized units;

  • Units subject to any City ordinance or policy regarding affordability; and

  • Any units owned or occupied by low- or very-low income households, even if no ordinance or policy applies.

  • Inclusion of affordable units occupied or demolished within the previous five years within the provisions above; and

  • Increasing the term of affordable housing covenants from 30 years to 55 years.

  • AB 2222 exempts your project if you submit an application or the application is processed by December 31, 2014. Therefore, a small window still exists to submit your application for a density bonus project and avoid these new provisions.

    JMBM's experts in the State's existing and proposed density bonus laws are ready to assist you.

    Continue reading "Developers of single- and multi-family density bonus projects should submit their applications now" »

    CEQA Bill to Protect Native American Cultural Resources Creates New Challenges and Opportunities for Project Applicants

    November 10, 2014


    On September 25, 2014, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 52 ("AB 52"), which modifies the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") to add new protections for Native American cultural resources and enhances the role of Native American tribes in the environmental review process. AB 52 is a significant amendment to CEQA that poses both challenges and opportunities for project applicants. A brief summary of the new law, which takes effect July 1, 2015, is provided below.

    AB 52 Creates a New Category of Potentially-Significant Environmental Impacts

    Under current CEQA law, lead agencies typically evaluate whether a project would impact historic or archaeological resources. Although impacts to Native Americans may be evaluated, AB 52 specifically mandates evaluation of whether a project will impact "tribal cultural resources" which include sites, features, places, cultural landscapes, sacred places, and objects with cultural value to tribes. If the potential for impacts to such resources exists, as with other environmental impacts, increasing levels of CEQA analysis, mitigation measures, and the consideration of alternatives is required. Input from a tribe as to what is culturally significant to that tribe will drive the analysis for a given project. These changes take effect on July 1, 2015.

    Continue reading "CEQA Bill to Protect Native American Cultural Resources Creates New Challenges and Opportunities for Project Applicants" »

    JMBM Named as a 2015 Best Law Firm in Land Use and Zoning Law for Third Year in a Row

    November 5, 2014

    JMBM Named as a 2015 Best Law Firm in Land Use and Zoning Law
    JMBM's Land Use Group Recognized for Third Year in a Row

    Best Law Firms BadgeLOS ANGELES - Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is pleased to announce it is has been named a 2015 Best Law Firm by U.S. News & World Report / Best Lawyers® and is recognized with a Metropolitan First-Tier Ranking in the area of Land Use and Zoning Law. This is the third year in a row that JMBM's Land Use practice has been included in the first tier for Metropolitan Los Angeles.

    "Our clients are involved in development projects that range from urban mixed use developments and master planned communities, to coastal development and industrial siting. We are also involved in both traditional and renewable energy projects, representing the land use and environmental needs of solar energy companies as well as those in the oil and gas industry," said Benjamin M. Reznik, Chair of JMBM's Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department and publisher of the California Land Use Blog.

    Continue reading "JMBM Named as a 2015 Best Law Firm in Land Use and Zoning Law for Third Year in a Row" »

    SB 1270 Proposes Significant California Mining Reform

    March 7, 2014

    by Kerry Shapiro, Esq.

    The recent submittal of significant proposed revisions to California's mining law, the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act ("SMARA"), signals potentially broad-reaching changes to the statute. On February 21, 2014, Senator Fran Pavely (D) introduced SB 1270, a bill proposing to overhaul various sections of SMARA. SB 1270 proposes fundamental changes to SMARA. Click here for a copy of SB 1270.

    If these changes go through, mine owners and operators will be subject to a new regulatory system under which the State will assume a far greater and centralized role in various aspects of SMARA, including mine inspections, enforcement, and establishment of financial assurance mechanisms. The mining industry also faces the likely prospect of increased carrying costs, arising from such proposals as changes to the annual reporting fee structure (proposed at a minimum of $1,000/year on a per-acre basis, and with no maximum cap), to increased ability to appeal decisions relating to the State's "3098" list.

    Continue reading "SB 1270 Proposes Significant California Mining Reform" »

    JMBM Recognized as a 2014 Best Law Firm in Land Use & Zoning Law

    November 1, 2013

    JMBM Best Law Firm 2014LOS ANGELES - Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is pleased to announce its land use practice has been selected for inclusion in the U.S. News & World Report / Best Lawyers® list of Best Law Firms. JMBM achieved a number of First-Tier Rankings, including a Metropolitan First-Tier Ranking (Los Angeles) in the area of Land Use and Zoning Law.

    "Our clients count on us to successfully guide their development projects through the maze of politics, community concerns, and the law. It's rewarding to deliver hard-won results, and a pleasure to be recognized for it," said Benjamin M. Reznik, Chair of JMBM's Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department. "My colleagues at JMBM and I are particularly pleased to be recognized as a Best Law Firm in this area, as it is an honor bestowed by our clients and peers."

    Continue reading "JMBM Recognized as a 2014 Best Law Firm in Land Use & Zoning Law" »

    An Interview with the New Executive Director of BCDC: Larry Goldzband

    September 11, 2012

    By Jon Welner

    On July 20, Lawrence J. Goldzband was appointed Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

    BCDC is a state regulatory agency created in the 1960s to ensure the environmental protection and responsible economic development of San Francisco Bay. It has permit authority over all development in the Bay and within 100 feet of the shoreline, including the development of all ports and marine facilities. In recent years, BCDC has taken a leadership role in preparing the Bay Area for the effects of sea-level rise resulting from global climate change.

    We recently sat down with Mr. Goldzband to discuss his perspective on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

    Continue reading "An Interview with the New Executive Director of BCDC: Larry Goldzband" »

    Litigating Property Rights Cases in California: Law Seminars International

    August 8, 2012

    by Matthew Hinks

    Litigating property rights cases in California requires navigating a confusing mélange of sometimes unfamiliar and often times conflicting groups of laws, rules and regulatory agencies.

    On October 17, 2012, at the Marriott Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, I will be co-chairing an advanced one-day seminar entitled Litigating Property Rights and leading a distinguished panel of speakers who will help us understand this procedural and substantive thicket.

    Continue reading "Litigating Property Rights Cases in California: Law Seminars International" »

    JMBM's Land Use And Zoning Practice receives national first-tier ranking and metropolitan first tier ranking (Los Angeles)

    November 1, 2011

    Best Law Firms BadgeJeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is pleased to announce its land use practice has been selected for inclusion in the U.S. News & World Report / Best Lawyers® list of Best Law Firms. JMBM achieved a National First-Tier Ranking and a Metropolitan First-Tier Ranking (Los Angeles) in the area of Land Use and Zoning Law.

    "Land use is where the law, politics and community all intersect and navigating a client's project through this intersection can be quite treacherous," said Benjamin M. Reznik, Chair of JMBM's Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department. "My colleagues and I are honored to have our work recognized by inclusion in the list of Best Law Firms," he said.

    The Best Law Firms designation is based on client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and a formal submission process. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers "the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice."

    Continue reading "JMBM's Land Use And Zoning Practice receives national first-tier ranking and metropolitan first tier ranking (Los Angeles)" »

    JMBM's Global Hospitality Group® announces formation of the Chinese Investment Group™

    July 11, 2011

    On July 11, 2011, the Global Hospitality Group® at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP announced the formation of the Chinese Investment Group™, a dedicated team of hotel and real estate lawyers that provides a gateway for Chinese investment in the United States.

    Using experience gained from more than $60 billion in hotel transactions, involving more than 1,300 properties worldwide, together with substantial experience in general real estate transactions, the Group provides Chinese investors with legal and business advice to make prudent and economically successful hotel and real estate investments in the United States.

    The Group and its network of reliable professional resources help Chinese investors identify, analyze, evaluate, validate, acquire, finance and manage hotel and real estate opportunities. The Group does not receive any finder's fees, incentive fees, commissions or payments from any promoters, and provides independent advice to Chinese investors regarding all hotel and real estate opportunities. The Group also represents selected hotel, restaurant and other real property owners and developers in structuring investments for foreign investors -- particularly Chinese investors -- using the EB 5 immigrant investor visa program.

    Continue reading "JMBM's Global Hospitality Group® announces formation of the Chinese Investment Group™" »