News & Information

Municipal Law Updates


March 6, 2017

California Supreme Court Holds that Writings Contained in Public Employees’ Personal Accounts May be Subject to Disclosure under the California Public Records Act

SUMMARY On March 2, 2017, the California Supreme Court, in City of San Jose v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (Smith),[1] held that “when a city employee uses a personal account to communicate about the conduct of public business, the writings may be subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA or…

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February 13, 2017

Joint power agencies must file joint powers agreement with LAFCO by July 1, 2017

Senate Bill 1266 (“SB 1266”) provides that joint power agencies that, (1) have a city as a member and, (2) that were formed to provide municipal services, must file a copy of the joint powers agreement[1] with the local agency formation commission (“LAFCO”) by July 1, 2017.[2]  Such joint power agencies that are formed after…

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December 2, 2016

Additional noticing, records retention, and posting requirements for property taxes, written protests, and public debt reports

Summary Recently Governor Brown approved three separate bills that impose additional administrative requirements on financial processes that cities commonly encounter. Starting January 1, 2017, cities must provide notice to non-resident property owners of a proposed parcel tax, must retain for two years written protests against new/increased property assessments, and must post annual debt reports to…

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November 15, 2016

Limitation on City Regulation of Accessory Dwelling Units

Designed to provide relief from California’s housing shortage, Senate Bill 1069 and Assembly Bill 2299 (collectively “SB 1069,” effective January 1, 2017) limit city authority to regulate accessory dwelling units. It also replaces city building, parking and use standards on this topic and imposes standards on cities that have not yet adopted their own regulations….

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July 15, 2015

Inclusionary Housing Ordinance That Did Not Include Findings of a Nexus Between a Development Project and The Need for Additional Affordable Housing Upheld by California Supreme Court

I. Summary Relying on a city’s broad power to regulate land use, the California Supreme Court recently upheld the City of San Jose’s inclusionary housing ordinance that requires new developments to set aside 15% of for-purchase units at affordable housing. In California Building Industry Assn. v. City of San Jose, 61 Cal. 4th 435 (Cal….

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July 14, 2015

Sign Ordinance Based on Categories of Signs is an Invalid Content-Based Restriction

I. Summary  On June 18, 2015[1] the United States Supreme Court held that an Arizona city’s sign ordinance that categorized signs into types with different sets of applicable regulations amounted to a content based restriction on speech that was not justified by the city’s interest in aesthetics and traffic safety.  The ordinance included various restrictions…

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July 13, 2015

Updated CEQA Procedures to Consider Native American Cultural Resources

I. Summary Designed to protect Native American tribal cultural resources, Assembly Bill 52 (“AB 52”) amends California Environmental Quality Act (‘CEQA”) procedures to require lead agencies to consult with a Native American tribe before releasing a negative declaration, mitigated negative declaration, or environmental impact report if the tribe requests both notification of proposed projects and…

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April 30, 2015

Voter-approved Reduction in Pension Benefits Largely Struck Down by Court of Appeal

I. Summary  On March 27, 2015, the California Court of Appeal ruled that a city cannot retroactively cut pension benefits. In Protect our Benefits v. City & County of San Francisco , the Court decided that a voter approved initiative to amend the charter of the City and County of San Francisco to only pay…

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