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By Martin Stratte for Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP

In August 2018, the California Court of Appeal decided Citizens Coalition Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles, 26 Cal.App.5th 561 (2018), commonly referred to as “Target II,” which arose from a years-long challenge by citizen activist organizations to the development of a Super Target in Hollywood, California.

As discussed below, the court was asked to resolve the following issue of first impression: what level of environmental review is required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for a legislative action that re-designates a project site for the purpose of mooting pending litigation that was filed in opposition to an already approved project?

In essence, what the City of Los Angeles did was re-zone the site of a previously approved Super Target to remove the need for the variances that were adopted in support of the project, which the trial court had struck down in the litigation commonly referred to as “Target I.”

Background

Target applied to the City of Los Angeles (City) for land use entitlements to develop an approximately 75-foot high, three-story Super Target at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue in Hollywood, California, the top floor of which would contain the 163,862 square foot “Superstore.”

The City certified an EIR for the Target project and granted eight exceptions (variances) so that the project could exceed height and parking-space restrictions, among others.  Thereafter, two citizen activist organizations filed a petition for writ of mandate alleging: 1) the project violated CEQA; and 2) the variances violated the City’s Municipal Code because they were not supported by substantial evidence.  Target proceeded with construction while the litigation was pending; that litigation is commonly referred to as “Target I.”

The trial court denied the petitioners’ CEQA claim in Target I, but found that six of the eight variances were not supported by substantial evidence.  Accordingly, the court ordered Target to stop construction.  Target filed an appeal and the petitioners filed a cross-appeal. Continue reading

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Los Angeles—Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is pleased to announce it has been ranked as a Los Angeles Metropolitan Tier 1 2019 “Best Law Firm” for Land Use & Zoning Law by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. This distinction is achieved by capturing the consensus opinion of clients and professional references about the abilities of the firm.

“We have assembled some of the most talented and experienced lawyers who specialize in land use and zoning and are extremely grateful to be awarded this recognition,” said Ben Reznik, Chair of JMBM’s Government, Land Use, Environmental & Energy Group. “Our goal has always been to provide exceptional service and to emphasize the success and priorities of our clients.”

Additionally, JMBM earned a National Tier 1 ranking for its Trusts and Estate practice, and numerous Metropolitan Tier 1 rankings across all three of its offices including:

Los Angeles: Commercial Litigation, Criminal Defense – White-Collar, Litigation – Trusts & Estates, Tax Law, Trademark Law, Trusts & Estates Law

Orange County: Litigation – Patent

San Francisco:
Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Litigation – Bankruptcy, Mediation

The “Best Law Firms’ rankings follow the recent 2019 edition of Best Lawyers in America in which 19 JMBM attorneys were recognized.

About JMBM’s Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department
JMBM’s government, land use, environment, and energy lawyers represent a wide range of industries, businesses, trade groups and individuals before every level of government, and in litigation. We routinely advocate for our clients’ interests before the myriad of regulatory authorities, administrative agencies and elected bodies that govern business and development activities. Our negotiation expertise and lobbying experience includes representing clients seeking to locate and develop new sites, relocate, expand operations, and all related permitting and compliance.

About Best Law Firms
The Best Law Firms designation is based on a rigorous process that includes client and lawyer evaluations, and peer review from leading lawyers. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be ranked for inclusion. Firms are evaluated on expertise, responsiveness, understanding clients’ businesses and needs, cost-effectiveness, integrity and a number of other factors. For more information see bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

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Companies doing business in California are well-acquainted with the required Proposition 65 signs and labels that warn consumers of exposure to specific chemicals that are known to the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Beginning August 30th, new regulations go into effect that change the language used for all Prop 65 warnings. The new warning language changes depending on whether the chemical(s) listed are (1) only for cancer, (2) only for reproductive toxicity, (3) for both cancer and reproductive toxicity (lead, for example), or (4) include one chemical causing cancer and another chemical causing reproductive toxicity.  The new warnings can be used now, but are required to be used as of August 30th.

The warnings must also include one of a number of new URLs to the applicable locations on the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s website.

In addition, the new regulations:

  • Include a number of new “tailored” warnings that are specific to certain products or environmental exposure scenarios;
  • Include short form warnings available for use on small products or packages;
  • Provide more clarity as to what will be considered to be a “clear and reasonable” warning by providing express “safe harbor” warnings;
  • May change the allocation of liability between retailers and manufacturers, distributors or producers, where indemnity agreements do not already exist.

Because it is required to list one or more chemicals by name in many of the new warnings, companies need to determine exactly which chemical or chemicals should be identified.

Companies need to pay close attention to the required details. For example, in some cases, not only does the language of the warning need to change, but so do the font sizes and signage sizes.

If you would like to consult with an environmental attorney with experience in Prop 65 regarding the new requirements, please contact us.

Jodi Smith is an environmental and land use attorney who represents real estate developers, commercial property owners, manufacturers, energy project developers, and waste management companies. She represents clients in real estate transactions and corporate mergers and acquisitions involving contaminated property and management of environmental liabilities. Jodi also represents manufacturing companies, retailers, hotels, and others regarding Proposition 65. Contact Jodi at jsmith@jmbm.com or 415.984.9639.

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Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is proud to announce 18 of its attorneys have been selected by their peers for inclusion in the list of Best Lawyers in America®  for 2018.

Among those, three are members of JMBM’s Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Group: Benjamin Reznik and David Cincotta.

Benjamin M. Reznik, Chair of JMBM’s Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Group
Ben’s practice emphasizes real estate development entitlements, zoning and environment issues, including frequent appearances before city planning commissions, city councils and other governmental boards and agencies on behalf of real estate development firms and various industries. Ben leads a group of distinguished attorneys that specialize in  CEQA and NEPA, air emissions, energy, licensing, government contracts, and has been described by Curbed LA as “the most powerful lobbyist in LA”.  Since joining JMBM in 1997, Ben has obtained project approvals for several million square feet of commercial space and several thousand  residential units valued in excess of $50 billion.

David Cincotta, Of Counsel, Land Use Law

David Cincotta specializes in obtaining land use entitlements for large commercial, mixed-use and residential developments in San Francisco and throughout Northern California. His practice focuses on land use, zoning and environmental law, and includes real estate transactions, real estate financing and historic preservation law. He is experienced in negotiating and documenting purchases, sales, commercial leases and financing of land and buildings for both commercial and residential projects. His clients include publicly owned corporations, real estate investment trusts, individuals, small firms and foundations with a concentration on real estate developers and property owners.

We congratulate all our lawyers who were honored by Best Lawyers® and recognize their dedication to providing our clients with outstanding results and exemplary service.

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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.
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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.

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By Benjamin M. Reznik
The Los Angeles area, which once boasted two professional football teams, has been without an NFL franchise for twenty years. That’s not to say there haven’t been several stadium proposals during that time, among them a renovated Los Angeles Coliseum, Majestic Realty’s proposed 600-acre site in the City of Industry, and AEG’s proposed stadium in downtown Los Angeles, Farmers Field. While some observers blamed cities and local politics for a lack of movement on the stadium front, the reality is quite different – and both team owners and the NFL itself are in a position to call the shots.
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By Benjamin M. Reznik
In terms of land use regulations that have far-reaching effects on development in California, the application – or misapplication – of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is near the top of the list. CEQA, when first implemented, certainly had a well-intentioned purpose: to protect the environment. But too often, CEQA is used as a Trojan horse by development project opponents to delay or ultimately thwart construction, increasing costs along the way. One of the most egregious examples of this took place in San Francisco, where a CEQA lawsuit even delayed the construction of environmentally-friendly bike lanes.
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By Matthew Hinks
Governor Brown signed into law on September 27, 2014, AB2222, which amends the State’s Density Bonus Law (“DBL”), Gov’t Code §§ 65915, et seq. to establish significant constraints upon the use of the incentives provided by DBL in connection with certain real estate developments. The main purpose of AB2222 is to eliminate density bonuses and other incentives previously available unless the developer agrees to replace pre-existing affordable units on a one-for-one basis. The impact of the bill will be significant because it will remove the economic incentive to undertake density bonus projects where existing units are subject to rent control ordinances or similar restrictions.
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