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

November 10, 2014

By Garrett Colli

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.

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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.

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California Oil and Gas Update: In-depth look at the California BLM's fracking decision

September 16, 2014

By Scott Castro

California Oil and Gas Update:
In-depth look at the California BLM's fracking decision

Oil and gas lease sales on public lands set to resume in 2015 based upon independent fracking report

On August 28, 2014 the California State Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) signaled its intent to resume oil and gas lease sales on Federal lands in the state beginning next year with its announcement of a "comprehensive strategy for the federal oil and gas program in California." This announcement was issued after an independent study commissioned by the BLM found limited environmental effects from hydraulic fracturing (i.e., "fracking") and other enhanced drilling techniques. The BLM's decision lifts a self-imposed BLM moratorium on oil and gas lease sales in California put in place on May 3, 2013, and marks another chapter in the seesaw debate in California and the nation over the use of well stimulation techniques, and raises some important considerations for the oil and gas industry in the state.

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Clean Water Act Update: EPA and Army Corps Propose Significant Changes to the Definition of "Waters of the United States"

March 27, 2014

By Scott Castro

On March 25, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers announced the release of their proposed rule clarifying which waters will be governed by the federal water pollution laws. The draft rule - literally years in the making following several notable U.S. Supreme Court decisions - proposes significant changes to the definition of "waters of the United States," which determines which activities are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. One key element of the proposed rule would automatically subject nearly every natural and artificial stream and wetland that is adjacent to or near a traditional navigable water, interstate water, or territorial sea to federal jurisdiction.

The agencies, led by the EPA, contend that the rulemaking is needed to clarify ambiguities left in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings in U.S. v. Riverside Bayview, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Rapanos v. U.S. While clarification may be needed, the proposed rule would effectively broaden, as a matter of law, federal jurisdiction over many types of streams and wetlands that are currently subject to a case-by-case assessment. Indeed, heavy criticism has been lodged at the automatic expansion of federal jurisdiction, including the potential for jurisdiction to be asserted over water bodies where a "nexus" to navigable waterways or other traditionally regulated bodies of water no longer exists.

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SB 1270 Proposes Significant California Mining Reform

March 7, 2014

by Kerry Shapiro, Esq. and Scott Castro, 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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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