CALIFORNIA CASE SUMMARY UPDATE: Real Property Case Summaries

Monty McIntyre

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CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL

Environment

Olen Properties Corp. v. City of Newport Beach (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 4399077: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order denying a writ petition seeking to overturn respondent’s approval of a project to develop a five-story, 312-unit residential housing project. Respondent, in an effort to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.; CEQA), obtained an addendum (the Addendum) to an existing environmental impact report prepared in 2006 (the 2006 EIR) as part of its general plan update. The Addendum considered a wide range of possible environmental impacts but concluded the Project’s impacts “would either be the same or not substantially greater than those described by the [2006 EIR].” This finding enabled respondent to approve the Project without preparing a new environmental impact report (EIR). The trial court, and the Court of Appeal, rejected petitioner’s arguments that

respondent could not rely upon an addendum to the 2006 EIR and was legally required to obtain a subsequent EIR, citing (among other things) traffic issues, hazardous materials, the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) of an existing adjacent development, geology and soil issues, and various land use policies of respondent. (C.A. 4th, filed June 8, 2023, published July 7, 2023.)

United Neighborhoods for L.A. v. City of L.A. (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 4730815: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting a petition for writ of mandate that halted a development project approved by respondent until respondent made a finding that the project is consistent with the General Plan policy concerning the preservation of affordable housing. Respondent approved a project that would replace 40 apartments subject to respondent’s rent stabilization ordinance (RSO) with a hotel. Respondent determined that the project was not subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it determined that the CEQA in-fill exemption applied. The in-fill exemption requires the project to be consistent with “all applicable general plan policies.” The trial court properly granted the writ petition because respondent did not consider the project’s consistency with Housing Element policies relating to the preservation of affordable housing. (C.A. 2nd, filed June 28, 2023, published July 25, 2023.)

Landlord-Tenant

640 Octavia v. Pieper (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 4759217: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting plaintiff landlord’s motion for summary judgment in an unlawful detainer action brought under the Ellis Act (Gov. Code, § 7060 et seq.). The trial court properly granted summary judgment. There was no error in the trial court’s decision to exclude evidence of the parties’ protracted negative interactions, and the trial court did not err in determining that the tenants failed to raise a triable issue of material fact as to plaintiff’s bona fide intent to exit the rental market. The trial court did not err in determining that the tenants had failed to raise a triable issue of material fact as to plaintiff’s service of the notice of termination of tenancy as required under the Ellis Act. Finally, the trial court did not err in determining that defendants had failed to raise a triable issue of material fact as to plaintiff’s compliance with the Ellis Act and Rent Ordinance in its payment of the relocation payment. (C.A. 1st, filed June 28, 2023, published July 26, 2023.)

Land Use

Cave Landing, LLC v. Cal. Coastal Com. (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 5314598: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order denying petitioner’s petition for writ of administrative mandate seeking to overturn respondent’s denial of a coastal development permit after the County of San Luis Obispo had approved it. Respondent has the ultimate authority to ensure that coastal development conforms to the policies in the California Coastal Act of 1976 (Pub. Res. Code, § 30000 et. seq.) and to ensure those policies prevail over the concerns of local government. Where respondent has denied a coastal development permit, the local government has no authority to proceed with the project. (C.A. 2nd, August 18, 2023.)

Real Property

Piedmont Capital Management, L.L.C. v. McElfish (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 5443868: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order sustaining defendant’s demurrer, without leave to amend, on the basis that a home equity line of credit (HELOC) agreement was not an installment contract and the four-year statute of limitations period started running on the date of the last payment in 2011, making plaintiff’s 2020 lawsuit time-barred. The Court of Appeal disagreed, concluding that a borrower’s duty to make a monthly payment under a HELOC agreement is divisible from the borrower’s duty to pay the full amount. As a result, the statute of limitations to recover the full amount was not triggered by a missed monthly payment. (C.A. 2nd, August 24, 2023.)