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.

Environmental Law

CEQA: New Player in Sports Stadium Wars

March 19, 2015, Timothy D. Cremin, Amrit S. Kulkarni

The professional sports landscape has long been colored by cities trying to convince a team to stay or lure a team to move. Recent activity in the cities of Sacramento, Inglewood and Carson reveals that the most influential factor is providing a new state-of-the-art stadium. The California Environmental Quality Act is proving to be an increasingly important player as project opponents use CEQA compliance and litigation to undermine the planning, financing and construction of new stadiums.

New State Water Resources Control Board Petition Regulations

January 6, 2015, Sarah N. Quiter

The indefinite wait to challenge a California Regional Water Quality Control Board’s action or failure to act has come to an end.  New regulations became effective on January 1 that, for the first time, place time limits on the State Water Resources Control Board to grant review of or dismiss administrative petitions filed pursuant to Water Code section 13320.  Previously, the State Board had unlimited time to determine whether a petition warranted further review of the Regional Board’s action or inaction or whether the petition should be dismissed.&nbsp

First Amendment

California Supreme Court Rules on Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

March 4, 2015, Meyers Nave, Deborah J. Fox, Jenny Riggs

On March 2, the California Supreme Court issued two much-anticipated decisions relating to sex offender residency restrictions: People v. Mosley, a facial challenge, and In re Taylor, an as-applied challenge. The decisions are helpful to jurisdictions navigating the constitutional minefields of regulating sex offenders.

Second District Confirms That Anti-SLAPP Statute Protects Private Support for Major Public Projects And Institutions

January 16, 2015, Julia Bond, Amrit S. Kulkarni, Shiraz Tangri

The Second District published today its December 22, 2014 decision in Save Westwood Village v. Meyer Luskin, applying the anti-SLAPP statute to protect significant charitable donations to public institutions and projects from baseless claims.  The Court of Appeal confirmed that written and financial support from private donors for a new University of California facility is expression protected by the constitutional right of free speech.  In addition, the Court rejected arguments that the claim against the private donors was exempt from the anti-SLAPP statute as a public interest lawsuit.

Appellate Court Affirms Right Of Privately Owned Shopping Center To Prohibit Solicitation In The Areas Adjacent To Store Entrances

January 14, 2015, Deborah J. Fox, Margaret Rosequist

The recent appellate court decision on January 6, 2015, in Donahue Schriber Realty Group, Inc. v. Nu Creation Outreach, et. al. highlights that in California a free speech analysis does not end with an analysis under the First Amendment.  Rather, the wider protections afforded under the California Constitution must also be considered. 

Labor and Employment

US Supreme Court Rejects Presumption that Memoranda of Understanding Create Vested Rights to Retiree Health Benefits

January 28, 2015, Linda Ross

In California, public employee unions and retirees have brought numerous lawsuits that claim Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between public employers and unions create vested rights to lifetime health care benefits for retired employees.

In a case with great significance for California employers, on January 26, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision that clarified the rules to be used in determining whether MOUs give rise to vested rights.

Land Use

CA Supreme Court Requires “Unusual Circumstances” for Otherwise Categorically Exempt Projects to be Subject to CEQA

March 2, 2015, Meyers Nave, Julia Bond, Amrit S. Kulkarni

In a highly anticipated decision, Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (S201116, filed March 2, 2015), the California Supreme Court resolved years of uncertainty by holding that a project’s purported environmental effects must be “due to unusual circumstances” before an environmental impact report can be required under Guidelines section 15300.2(c). The Court also resolved another long-standing divide among Courts of Appeal, holding that an agency’s findings as to unusual circumstances are subject to the substantial evidence standard.

Court of Appeal Dismisses CEQA Challenge to Sacramento Kings Arena

February 18, 2015, Shaye Diveley, Amrit S. Kulkarni

California's Third District Court of Appeal issued a published decision on February 18 in Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento (Case No. C077772), soundly affirming the trial court's decision to deny the quick, but eventful, challenge to the proposal to build a new home for the Sacramento Kings.

Municipal and Special District Law

Proposition 26 Update: Court of Appeal Rules that Unsupported Electric Utility Transfers to General Funds Require Voter Approval

January 29, 2015, John D. Bakker

California's Constitution makes all local taxes subject to voter approval. Proposition 26 amended the provisions to declare that all levies imposed by a local government are taxes subject to voter approval unless the levies meet one of seven exceptions. In one of the first important appellate decisions under Proposition 26, the Third Appellate District Court of Appeal ruled that the City of Redding's practice of transferring a payment in-lieu of property tax (called a "PILOT") from its electric utility to the general fund is a tax.

Supreme Court to Review Decision on Accidental Disclosure of Privileged Documents Under CPRA

March 17, 2015, Nicholaus W. Norvell, Ruthann G. Ziegler

The California Supreme Court will review a lower court’s decision that disclosure of a document under the California Public Records Act (“CPRA,” Government Code §§ 6250 et seq.) waives any privileges attached to the document, even if the disclosure was accidental or by a “low-level” employee not authorized to waive the privilege.  Last week, the Court decided it would review the California Court of Appeal’s decision in Ardon v. City of Los Angeles (Dec. 10, 2014, B252476).

Drone Regulation Update: California Legislature Proposes Four Bills; FAA Issues Proposed Rules; White House Issues Presidential Memo

March 11, 2015, Kristopher Kokotaylo

The commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicle ("UAVs"), also known as "drones," is not presently allowed under federal law, while public agency and hobbyist use of UAVs is allowed. Congress has tasked the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") with opening up the federal airspace to commercial UAVs. As a result, a flurry of regulatory and state legislative activity has occurred related to UAVs.

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