A few recent developments and upcoming events in the CEQA world bear quick mention:

  • The BART Housing Bill:

Under AB 2923, BART now has limited land use regulation authority on its own lands near its stations. BART is required to adopt Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) standards for its lands by July 1, 2020, and its action in this regard is subject to CEQA review, with BART acting as the lead agency. The new law declares the minimum TOD standards for this purpose (setting minimum density and height limits, and maximum parking limits) are set forth in BART’s 2017 TOD Guidelines. Development projects which meet TOD zoning requirements and provide 30% affordable housing will qualify for streamlined, “by-right,” ministerial approval with no additional CEQA review. The law also requires cities and counties to adopt zoning standards for BART-owned lands, conforming to BART’s adoption of TOD standards for height, density, parking, and FAR for eligible TOD projects, within 2 years of BART’s action, or by July 1, 2022 if BART fails to act. The new law is intended to increase California’s housing supply and provide some relief from its housing crisis, and could enable BART to develop up to 20,000 residential units and 4.5 million square feet of office/commercial uses on 250 acres of BART-owned lands by 2040. My partner Bryan Wenter’s excellent post on this new law can be found here.

  • The Oakland A’s Ballpark Bill:

Under a law recently signed by Governor Brown, AB 734, CEQA challenges to environmental review of the new ballpark/mixed-use project proposed by the A’s, if proposed at the Howard Terminal waterfront site would be subject to an expedited judicial review process, under which the action would have to be resolved within 270 days. The bill is similar to other laws passed by the Legislature in recent years (such as the “Sacramento Kings Arena” legislation) to assist large sports stadium projects and Governor-certified “environmental leadership” projects (see Cal. Rules of Ct., Rules 3.220-3.2237) by substantially expediting the timeframe for resolution of CEQA litigation against such projects. Proponents hope the law will help the A’s (who had a great season, by the way) stay in Oakland and boost the local economy.

  • First District Holds CEQA’s 180-Day Statute Of Limitations Trumps Government Code § 65009(c)(1)’s 90-Day Statute Of Limitations In Action Challenging Local Planning And Zoning Decision

In a published decision filed October 23, 2018, which should interest local governments and CEQA litigators, the First District Court of Appeal (Div. 3) affirmed an order sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend as to three non-CEQA causes of action (brought under the Planning and Zoning Law, due process, and “mandamus” statutes) challenging a local land use approval authorizing a public utility’s tree cutting within its natural gas pipeline easements for public safety purposes. The Court held those claims were barred under the Planning and Zoning Law’s 90-day statute of limitations for filing and service contained in Government Code § 65009(c)(1)(E), where appellants’ petition was filed but not served within the 90-day deadline. However, the Court reversed the trial court’s order as to the first cause of action, brought under CEQA, holding it was timely filed and served under CEQA’s “more specific” and longer 180-day statute of limitations contained in Public Resources Code § 21167(a). The case is Save Lafayette Trees v. City of Lafayette (Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Real Party in Interest) (2018) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ .

  • Upcoming CEQA Programs:

I’m looking forward to presenting with fellow CEQA practitioners at what promise to be two outstanding upcoming CEQA programs. First up is the Bay Planning Coalition’s October 25 “Expert Briefing – CEQA Update 2018” at the Wendel Rosen law office in Oakland; following that will be the “2018 CLE CEQA Conference” on December 13, at the San Francisco Hilton.