At long last, the California Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in the case of Berkeley Hillside Preservation, et al. v. City of Berkeley, Supreme Court Case No. S201116. By its long-awaited order issued October 31, 2014, the Court has now set argument in the matter for 9:00 a.m., December 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.
The case, which will decide the correct interpretation of and proper standard of judicial review for the “unusual circumstances” exception to categorical exemptions, will have been pending in the high court for over two-and-one half years when oral argument is heard – it was taken up by the Supreme Court’s grant of review on May 23, 2012, and was fully briefed in mid-December 2012. (See “Supreme Court Will Review CEQA Categorical Exemption Exception In Berkeley Hillside Preservation Case,” by Arthur F. Coon, posted 5/23/12; “Supreme Court Case Involving CEQA’s ‘Unusual Circumstances’ Exception to Categorical Exemptions Now Fully Briefed by Parties; Amicus Briefs Are Up Next in Berkeley Hillside Preservation Matter,” by Arthur F. Coon, posted 12/14/12.)
A written opinion is expected from the Supreme Court within 90 days of oral argument being heard.