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CEQA Appeals Delay 100% Affordable Residential Developments in LA City

JMBM’s Housing Strategy and Litigation Group represents an affordable housing developer proposing to construct a 44-unit, 100 percent affordable, residential development in the West Los Angeles community. The LA Department of City Planning approved the project in December 2023 and found that it meets the requirements of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Executive Directive-1 (ED-1) program – which provides for expedited approvals and prevents appeals for projects that are 100 percent affordable.

Two weeks later, the Department accepted an appeal from a neighborhood group challenging the project’s approval and its exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), arguing that the ED-1 program’s provisions are illegal. The appeal’s acceptance resulted in a stay on the project until City Council can address it.

Daniel Freedman, Partner and co-chair of JMBM’s Housing Strategy and Litigation Group, has filed two letters with the City Council responding to the appeal and objecting to the fact that the City has accepted the appeal. He argues that a CEQA appeal should not be granted in instances where no CEQA determination has been made.

In this instance, the approval was ministerial, and therefore no CEQA action was required for the project approval itself. Moreover, even if such an appeal is permitted, the appeal fails to actually challenge the approval itself. Freedman argues that the appeal challenges the ED-1 program itself, rather than the individual development, and for that reason this appeal is untimely and should have been brought against the ED-1 when it was initially adopted. He contends that the City’ acceptance of this appeal creates a troubling precedent that will only increase the potential for CEQA to be abused for the purposes of delaying new affordable housing projects.

The letters also put the City on notice that processing of this appeal is inconsistent with local and state laws, and that the timelines provided in the newly updated Housing Accountability Act continue to apply and must be respected by the City.

Copies of the letters can be found here and here.

About JMBM’s Housing Strategy and Litigation Group

The Housing Strategy and Litigation Group is a specialized team of attorneys with a deep understanding of California’s complex housing development laws, and extensive experience advancing housing development projects through strategic litigation. The group offers a range of legal services to help developers, home builders, and property owners navigate local entitlements, regulatory challenges, appeals, and litigation, and to maximize the advantages and protections afforded by critical California housing laws.

Daniel F. Freedman is a land use, environmental, and municipal law partner who has more than a decade of experience assisting and advising on residential, industrial, commercial and mixed-use developments. Daniel Freedman also represents clients on related civil litigation matters in both state and federal courts, and is an experienced lobbyist on local, state, and federal matters. Daniel Freedman can be contacted at or 310.785.5391.