May 25, 2012

Summary of May 23, 2012 conference report for civil cases

The following is our summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s conference on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. The summary includes those civil cases in which (1) review has been granted, (2) review has been denied but one or more justices has voted for review, or (3) the Court has ordered depublished an opinion of the Court of Appeal.

Review Granted

Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (Logan), S201116—Review Granted—May 23, 2012

A local preservation group challenged the trial court’s denial of its petition for a writ of mandate to set aside the approval of use permits to construct a large residence. The group claims the proposed construction was not categorically exempt under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.), and that environmental concerns should be reviewed in an environmental impact report (EIR).

The Court of Appeal, First District, Division Four, agreed and reversed. It held in a published opinion, Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 656, that the categorical exemption of the construction of the single family residence was inappropriate. Adopting a two-step inquiry, the Court of Appeal held: (1) unusual circumstances exist due to the size of the residence; and (2) there is a reasonable probability that the proposed construction will have a significant environmental impact.

According to the Supreme Court’s website, the case presents the following issue: “Did the City of Berkeley properly conclude that a proposed project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code, ? 21000 et seq.) under the categorical exemptions set forth in California Code of Regulations, title 14, sections 15303, subdivision (a), and 15332, and that the ‘Significant Effects Exception’ set forth in section 15300.2, subdivision (c), of the regulations did not operate to remove the project from the scope of those categorical exemptions?”

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)




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