Municipal and Special Districts

Court of Appeal Confirms Subdivision is a CEQA Project

September 15, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1143376.1

In Rominger v. County of Colusa (2014) (September 9, 2014, C073815) __ Cal.App.4th___, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and held that a tentative subdivision map is a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).  In doing so, the Court rejected the County of Colusa’s (“County”) and project applicant’s contention that, in the absence of a specific development plan, the division of land alone is not a CEQA project.  Ultimately, the appellate court found that the petitioners had submitted sufficient evidence so as to require the preparation of an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for the subdivision project.

Sunshine Ordinance Preempted by City Charter Provision Creating Attorney-Client Privilege

August 13, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1135574.1

The First District Court of Appeal determined that City of San Francisco (“City”) resident Allen Grossman (“Grossman”) was not entitled to documents related to the development of certain San Francisco Ethics Commission (“Commission”) regulations. The case concerned a group of documents that had been withheld on the basis of attorney-client privilege, even though the City’s Sunshine Ordinance required disclosure of the documents. The Court found that the attorney-client privilege afforded to the Commission’s communications with the City Attorney’s Office in the furtherance of seeking legal advice were enshrined in the City’s Charter, which preempted the Sunshine Ordinance (S.F. Admin. Code, ch. 67). (St. Croix v. Superior Court (2014) __ Cal.Rptr.3d ___ 2014 WL 3704275).

Public Records Act Did Not Require School District To Produce Student Academic Growth Over Time Scores That Identified Individual Teacher Names Tied To Those Scores

August 4, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1133530.1

The California Court of Appeal in Los Angeles Unified School District v.The Superior Court of Los Angeles County (July 23, 2014) 2014 WL 3615855, --- Cal.App.4th ---, recently held that unredacted academic growth over time scores revealing the names of individual teachers tied to those scores were exempt from disclosure under the "catch-all" exemption to the California Public Records Act because the public interest in non-disclosure of teachers' names under the particular circumstances clearly outweighed the public interest served by their disclosure.

Income Approach Requires Assessors To Identify And Deduct Specific Intangible Assets

July 16, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1119289.1

When the “fair market value” of real property is assessed in California, intangible assets and rights must be deducted in determining taxable value. In SHC Half Moon Bay v. County of San Mateo (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 471, the Court of Appeal concluded that the approach used to assess the value of the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Hotel violated state law because it failed to remove certain intangible assets prior to assessment.

DIR Launches New Mandatory Registration Program for Public Works Projects

July 11, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1127493.1

The California Department of Industrial Relations (“DIR”) has announced the launch of a new registration program for public works projects authorized by Senate Bill 854, which was signed into law on June 20, 2014, and became effective immediately.

Cities, Districts, Others To Restrict Lawn Watering, Car Washing, Pavement Washdowns And Fountains Under Proposed Statewide Emergency Regulation

July 10, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1127151.1

Cities, districts, public utilities and other urban water suppliers would have to limit landscape irrigation by customers and enforce other water use restrictions under emergency regulations proposed by the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) on July 8, 2014.

City Cannot Prohibit 'Living' in Vehicles

June 30, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1124439.1

In Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles (2014)  ___ F.3d ___ (2014 WL 2766541), a City of Los Angeles ("City") ordinance prohibiting the use of vehicles for habitation was held to violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Constructive Notice of Sidewalk Defects

June 30, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1124440.1

The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment in Heskel v. City of San Diego (2014) ___ Cal.Rptr.3d ___ (2014 WL 2811185).  The Court found that a hollow sign pole base, protruding approximately two inches above ground level was not obvious enough to provide the City with constructive notice.

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Sworn Testimony Relating to Public Employee’s Employment Protected by First Amendment Where Speech is Outside Scope of Employee’s Ordinary Job Duties

June 23, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1122750.1

Recently, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve whether a public employee’s testimony in response to a subpoena is entitled to First Amendment protection where providing such testimony is outside the scope of the employee’s ordinary job duties.  Applying its earlier precedents set forth in Pickering v. Board of Ed. of Township High School Dist. 205, Will Cty. (1968) 391 U.S. 563, 568 (“Pickering”) and Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006) 547 U.S. 410 (“Garcetti”), the high Court concluded that public employee testimony is entitled to First Amendment protection where the employee’s regular job duties do not include testifying under oath and the employee’s speech relates to a matter of public concern.  Nonetheless, the Court concluded the employee’s supervisor was entitled to qualified immunity in his individual capacity.  (Lane v. Franks, --- S.Ct. ----, U.S., June 19, 2014).

NOTE

The Court specifically noted that it was not addressing whether truthful sworn testimony would constitute citizen speech where giving such testimony was part of a public employee’s ordinary job duties.

Public Construction: Don't Forget to Update Your "List of Subcontractors" Forms Before July 1, 2014

June 19, 2014 | Bulletin No. 1122153.1

Don't get caught off-guard. Beginning July 1, 2014, amendments to the California Subletting and Subcontracting Fair Practices Act go into effect. Last September, the California State Legislature passed AB 44, which amends Public Contract Code section 4104, and requires that prime contractors bidding on public works or improvement set forth in their bid the California Contractors State License Board number of all subcontractors listed in their bid.  The license number must be included for all subcontractors who will be performing work in excess of 0.5% of the prime contractor’s total bid or, in the case of bids for the construction of streets, highways, or bridges, in excess of 0.5% of the prime contractor’s total bid or $10,000, whichever is greater.

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