Client Alerts

The California state legislature and courts as well as local governments are continuously changing the legal landscape.  Staying abreast of new laws, regulations and other legal developments, and analyzing their impact on local governments is what makes our attorneys some of the best in the state. In addition, we write timely alerts to keep our clients informed of developing legal news and analysis.

Client e-Alerts are emailed to our clients, and they can also be viewed on our website.  If you are interested in receiving our Client Alerts via email, please complete the subscription information in the left column.
Some of our most recent alerts are presented below grouped by their practice area. Older alerts are available in the Archives, which can be accessed via the links in the left column.

California Drought – Legal Services & Resources

State Water Board Seeks Public Comment On Storm Water Strategic Initiative

July 16, 2015, Gregory J. Newmark, Sarah N. Quiter , Lindsey F. Zwicker

While storm water is typically viewed as a source of pollution that impairs water quality, it also represents a potential water source to offset drought-related shortages. As the pressure on water quality and supply in California increases, the utilization of storm water as a water source has become critical to drought mitigation efforts. As a result, the State Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards (“Water Boards”) are working to augment and improve the quality of local water supplies through more effective storm water management.

Drought Advisory: State Water Board Solicits Comments on "Conservation Water Pricing" (comments due July 1, 2015)

June 11, 2015, John D. Bakker, Gregory J. Newmark

Governor Brown's April 1, 2015 executive order addressing California's historic drought directed the State Water Resources Control Board to take steps to require urban water suppliers to develop pricing mechanisms to maximize water conservation.  The Water Board did not address this directive in its emergency water conservation regulations, which it adopted on May 5, 2015.  On June 10, the Water Board issued a notice of a July 8, 2015 workshop to solicit public input on the actions that the Water Board could take to implement the directive. 

Clean Water Rule Redefines “Waters of the U.S.”

May 29, 2015, Gregory J. Newmark, Sarah N. Quiter

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Agencies”) jointly released the “Clean Water Rule,” which redefines the scope of waters protected under the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”).

Construction and Facilities

City of Sacramento Beats All Challenges to New $477 Million Downtown Sports Arena

August 21, 2015

Cities, counties and private enterprises throughout the U.S., particularly in California, are competing to recruit and retain professional sports teams. The decisive factor in nearly every proposed deal is providing a new multi-million dollar sports arena. As the City of Sacramento experienced during the past four years, the planning, approval, environmental review, financing, construction and operation of a new arena can generate an endless range of expected and unexpected legal and regulatory challenges.  

Economic Development, Real Estate and Housing

Environmental Law

SJVAPCD Adopts Stricter Health Risk Calculation Methods; Strives To Avoid Unnecessary Barriers to Development

July 23, 2015, Peter S. Hayes, Amrit S. Kulkarni

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD, or "District") has adopted changes to the methodology it uses to assess health risks from development projects' air pollution emissions, and the thresholds it uses to determine whether such projects' cancer risk is "significant" under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

These changes, which increase the likelihood of finding any given project to have a significant health risk impact, are based upon recent revisions to the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's (OEHHA's) Guidance Manual for Preparation of Health Risk Assessments ("Guidance Manual"), and may provide insight into how other local "Air Districts" around the state will incorporate OEHHA's new advice. Because the Air Districts issue permits to "stationary sources" of air pollution, and because their health risk thresholds are often followed by other local agencies in preparing Environmental Impact Reports under CEQA, adoption of stricter health risk assessment practices by Air Districts could lead to an increase in the number of projects determined to pose significant health risk impacts to the environment.

First Amendment

Supreme Court Ruling Dictates Rigid Application of Strict Scrutiny to Content-Based Distinctions in Sign Ordinances

June 22, 2015, Deborah J. Fox, Margaret Rosequist

On June 18, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued its much awaited opinion in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 2015 WL 2473374 (June 18, 2015)The Court unanimously found that the sign ordinance at issue violated the First Amendment.  The Reed Court analyzed the constitutionality of the different size and timing limitations placed on three categories of noncommercial signs: ideological signs, temporary directional signs, and political signs.  The Ninth Circuit had ruled that the distinctions were content-neutral and passed First Amendment scrutiny.  The Supreme Court reversed. The unanimous ruling was accompanied by a sharp divide among the Justices as to the appropriate analytical framework to apply.  The majority opinion (penned by Justice Thomas) applies a rigid strict-scrutiny analysis to content-based distinctions used in sign ordinances.  As content-based exemptions and distinctions are commonly found in municipal sign ordinances, cities should review and possibly reconsider the language used in their regulations in light of the majority opinion in Reed.

Appellate Court Says Accidental Disclosure of Documents Does Not Waive Privileges

August 24, 2015, Nicholaus W. Norvell, Ruthann G. Ziegler

A California appellate court recently held that, when a public agency inadvertently releases documents protected by the attorney-client privilege or attorney work product privilege in response to a request under the California Public Records Act ("CPRA," Government Code §§ 6250 et seq.), the release does not waive the privileges. (Newark Unified School District v. Superior Court of Alameda County (July 31, 2015, A142963).)

Labor and Employment

California Supreme Court Resolves District Attorney's Obligations to Produce Potentially Exculpatory Information vs. State Law Protection for Peace Officer Personnel Records

July 21, 2015, Linda Ross

Under the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83, District Attorneys must give accused persons information that may be favorable to the defense, including records of past misconduct involving police officers in the case. But under the California Supreme Court's decision in Pitchess v.

Municipal and Special District Law

No Peeking! Supreme Court Holds Police Cannot Demand Access to Hotel Registries Without Opportunity for Pre-Compliance Review

June 23, 2015, Lindsay P. D'Andrea, Sky Woodruff

In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled in City of Los Angeles v. Patel, 576 U.S. ____(2015), that Los Angeles Municipal Code § 41.49 requiring hotel operators to turn over guest registries to police upon demand is unconstitutional. A group of hotel operators brought the facial challenge to § 41.49 claiming that it violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches. The Court ruled that there were no set of circumstances under which § 41.49 would be constitutional because in all cases it requires hotel operators to turn over guest registries upon demand and does not provide them any opportunity for pre-compliance review.

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