Third District Court of Appeal Finds that Lay Opinion on Aesthetics Can Support A CEQA “Fair Argument”

On December 17, 2018, California’s Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment setting aside El Dorado County’s approval of a proposed Dollar General store in Georgetown with a mitigated negative declaration.  The Court held that while aesthetics are subjective, “lay opinions can provide substantial evidence to support a fair argument that a project may […]


SF Planning Commission Considers Proposed Statewide Housing Bill

Last Thursday, the City’s Planning Commission held a lengthy informational hearing on SB 50 – proposed statewide legislation intended to spur housing development in transit and job-rich areas. SB 50 was introduced by Senator Weiner on December 3, 2018.  It is essentially a revised version of last year’s failed SB 827, reformulated to expand its […]


New State Condo Law Protects HOAs from Financial Fraud and Embezzlement

Responding to reported cases of fraud and embezzlement against homeowners associations (“HOAs”), the California Legislature enacted Assembly Bill 2912 (“AB 2912”), which became effective on January 1, 2019.  AB 2912 amends the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act by adding safeguards to protect HOAs for common interest developments by increasing HOA board of directors (“Board”) oversight […]


Employee Cafeterias and New Construction ADUs – A Legislative Update

Tomorrow, the San Francisco Planning Commission will consider two interesting legislative proposals on hot-button land use topics in the city. One would restrict—but not prohibit—new employee cafeterias in office developments, modifying a proposal from last year to ban them outright. The other would authorize accessory dwelling units in new construction. Conditional Use for New Employee […]


SB 330 Takes Aim at the Housing Crisis

Last week, Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) introduced SB 330—the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. Unlike other housing-related bills introduced this legislative session, this bill would declare a statewide housing emergency. Through January 2030, the proposed legislation’s multipronged approach would streamline project approvals, freeze zoning controls once an application is deemed complete, restrict the assessment of […]


Easement Limitations – Recent Clarifications

What happens when an easement agreement does not specifically state all of the purposes for which it may be used?  How do we know what the parties intended?  If not specifically stated, is the scope of the easement based upon its historical use or a reasonable use?  A recent case of Zissler v. Saville addressed […]


Is the San Francisco Condo Lottery Dead?

Prior to 2013, the City of San Francisco (“City”) implemented an annual condo conversion lottery system for 2-6 unit residential and mixed-use properties. But with the lottery resulting in a backlog of applications extending well over a decade, the Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance No. 117-13, ushering in changes to Article 9 of the City’s […]


San Francisco Eliminates Parking Requirements Citywide

On December 11, 2018, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance (the “Ordinance”) eliminating required parking minimums citywide for all uses. The vote was 7-4, with Supervisors Cohen, Safai, Stefani, and Yee voting against it. Mayor Breed signed the Ordinance on December 21 and it went into effect on January 21. Those in favor of […]


Streamlining Construction Permits

Meeting the needs of commercial projects after entitlement can be difficult when City agencies are tasked with solving a housing crisis. The Small Business Permit Streamlining Ordinance seeks to update several areas of code that affect various agency processes and may contribute to an elegant solution for commercial property owners exploring options with tenants for […]


Think residential projects in San Francisco could not get more complicated? Think again.

On December 11, 2018, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced legislation that would significantly impact the demolition and modification of residential units (BOS File No. 181216). The Planning Code requires most “demolitions” of residential units to obtain Conditional Use (“CU”) approval after a hearing by the Planning Commission, whether or not the unit is […]