Thursday, December 15, 2011

Land Use Matters - A Publication of Alston & Bird's Land Use Group

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Land Use Matters Masthead

Each month, Land Use Matters will provide information and insights into legal and regulatory developments, primarily at the Los Angeles City and County levels affecting land use matters, as well as new CEQA appellate decisions.

Please visit the firm's website for additional information about our Land Use Group.

City of Los Angeles

Department of City Planning

Warner Center Regional Core Comprehensive Specific Plan
The draft Warner Center Regional Core Comprehensive Specific Plan (WCRCCSP) was released on August 2, 2011. The proposed Specific Plan, if adopted, would replace the Warner Center Specific Plan and extend the Specific Plan boundary north to the Los Angeles River, rather than ending it at Vanowen Street. The Specific Plan proposes to increase the floor area ratios, height and density for most lots within Warner Center; authorize flexible parking rates; and provide urban design guidelines. A supplemental sign district is also proposed for the Regional Core.

The draft EIR for the Specific Plan was released on December 8, 2011, and the comment period ends on February 6, 2012. A workshop is planned for January 9, 2012, and City Council adoption is anticipated in July 2012. Download a copy of the draft documents at

Hollywood Community Plan and Final EIR
On December 8, 2011, the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council approve the Hollywood Community Plan and various rezoning actions, certify the EIR, and approve and adopt the Statement of Overriding Considerations. The proposed plan contains policies and programs that will remove and/or revise development limitations on commercial zones and multifamily residential zones. The plan also proposes modified street standards that reflect existing street configurations, protect historic resources and established building patterns, and promote pedestrian activity and bicycle and transit use. The Planning and Land Management (PLUM) Committee will review the reports and recommendations in early 2012. Find a copy of the staff report and Final EIR at and

City-Wide Sign Ordinance Update
At the December 5, 2011, PLUM Committee meeting, the latest draft of the proposed sign ordinance was considered (see One of the major issues continues to revolve around permitting off-site signs in parks, the Zoo and other city-owned facilities. The Office of the City Administrative Officer submitted a letter requesting that the Council consider an amendment to the ordinance to allow the Zoo to apply for a sign district. Various neighborhood councils oppose the sign reduction and community benefits provisions of the proposed ordinance. PLUM voted to send the ordinance to the City Attorney’s Office for review and will hold another hearing before sending the matter to the full City Council for review.

California Environmental Quality Act

Pfeiffer v. City of Sunnyvale: The court of appeal upheld the trial court’s denial of a challenge by homeowners to the adequacy of an environmental impact report for a proposed expansion of a medical campus in Sunnyvale. Coming on the heels of an appellate decision from 2010 involving the City of Sunnyvale, in which a traffic study was invalidated due to “baseline” issues, the same appellate court upheld the City’s latest traffic study. That study used a baseline tied to the project’s anticipated date of completion, which was based on (1) traffic counts conducted as of the Notice of Preparation plus (2) additional traffic from anticipated growth and approved, but not yet constructed, projects through the project opening year. This study also analyzed cumulative impacts by analyzing anticipated conditions as of the year 2020, in accordance with the City’s General Plan. In addition to addressing traffic issues, the court also ruled that an EIR does not need to discuss the issue of the project’s consistency with land-use plans unless the project would be inconsistent with such plans. The full decision can be found at

Ballona Wetlands Land Trust v. City of Los Angeles: The court of appeal upheld the trial court’s denial of challenges brought by different environmental groups to a revised EIR prepared for the Playa Vista project (comprised of residential-, retail- and community-oriented uses). The original EIR was revised in response to a writ of mandate issued in 2008. The court held that (1) the revised EIR did not have to examine the potential effects of sea level rise that may be caused by global warming in the future because, among other reasons, CEQA does not require analysis of the effects of the environment on the proposed project (declining to follow CEQA Guideline 15126.2); (2) substantial evidence supported the City’s finding that preservation in place of previously removed archaeological resources was infeasible and the impact to such resources was considered to be less-than-significant due to other mitigation measures; and (3) challenges to the analysis of land-use impacts was barred by, among other things, the doctrine of res judicata given the scope of the writ and the nature of the claims brought in the original lawsuit and in the new challenges to the revised EIR.

Contributing Authors

Ed Casey Edward J. Casey, Partner
Environmental and Land Use Group
Kathleen Hill Kathleen A. Hill, Planning Director
Environmental and Land Use Group

This publication by Alston & Bird LLP provides a summary of significant developments to our clients and friends. It is intended to be informational and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation. This material may also be considered attorney advertising under court rules of certain jurisdictions.

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This message was sent to as a contact of Alston & Bird LLP.  If you are not Will Wright,  but
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This material is intended to be informational and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation.  This material
may also be considered attorney advertising under court rules of certain jurisdictions.
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