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California Municipal Law Blog
category:
Recent Court Decisions

Condemnation that Separates Land into Discrete Parts does not “Divide” Land Under Subdivision Map Act

by on November 2, 2015

posted in Eminent Domain, Recent Court Decisions, Subdivisions,

When government condemns a strip of land across a single parcel of property for a public improvement (such as a road), does the condemnation create two legal parcels (one on each side of the strip)?  No, says a recent appellate court opinion.  In Save Mount Diablo v. Contra Costa County, the court held that the physical separation of land by condemnation does not “divide” the land under the Subdivision Map Act (“Map Act”).  ... Continue Reading

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tags: Certificates of Compliance, Condemnation, Court Ruling, Eminent Domain, Lawful Parcel, Subdivision Map Act,

State Supreme Court Expands Government Liability for Dangerous Condition of Public Property

by on August 17, 2015

posted in Damages, Public Works, Recent Court Decisions, Streets and Sidewalks,

A car driving along a road is sideswiped by another car, causing it to veer into a median and hit a tree.  Tragically, all but one of the car’s occupants is killed; the sole survivor is seriously injured.  Although the driver of the other car was clearly at fault, the city that maintained the tree is sued under the theory that the tree’s placement in the median was a “dangerous condition of public property.”  Can the city be held liable? Yes, says the State Supreme Court.  In Cordova v. City of Los Angeles, the Court held that local agencies may be liable for a dangerous condition of ... Continue Reading

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tags: automobile accident, causation, city trees, medians, negligence, Public Beautification Programs,

New Public Records Case Holds that Mistaken Release of Privileged Documents Does Not Waive Privilege

by on August 10, 2015

posted in Public Records Act, Recent Court Decisions,

When an agency mistakenly releases privileged documents in response to a Public Records Act (“PRA”) request, it does not waive the privilege it possesses in those documents.  So ruled the San Francisco-Based First District Court of Appeal on July 31, 2015 in Newark Unified School District v. Superior Court.  The court’s ruling contradicts the December 2014 holding of the Los-Angeles Based Second District Court of Appeal in Ardon v. City of Los Angeles.  That court held that once privileged documents are released, agencies effectively waive any privilege attached to them, and cannot demand ... Continue Reading

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tags: Ardon v. Los Angeles, Attorney-Client Privilege, California Supreme Court, Mistaken Disclosure, Newark Unified School District, Public Records Act,

Court Holds Mistaken Agenda Reference Does Not Prevent Holding of Closed Session

by on July 27, 2015

posted in Meetings, Recent Court Decisions,

What happens when a meeting agenda refers to the wrong legal authority for a closed-session item an agency considers?  If it’s clear to the public what action the agency may take, there is no Brown Act violation.  According to a recent court opinion, which dismissed a lawsuit as “hypertechnical,” a mistaken code reference used to describe a closed-session item does not prevent the agency from acting.  (Castaic Lake Water Agency v. Newhall County Water District, published July 22, 2015.)  ... Continue Reading

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tags: Agendas, Brown Act, Closed Sessions, Initiation of Litigation,

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies How and When Local Agencies Must Communicate Denials of Cell Tower Applications

by on January 26, 2015

posted in Recent Court Decisions, Zoning,

A cellular carrier applies for entitlements to erect a cell tower that a city council finds objectionable.  The council wishes to deny the application.  How and when must the council communicate the reasons for the denial to the applicant? In T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell, the United States Supreme Court answered these questions.  It confirmed that denials of cell tower applications must be in writing, but not necessarily in a specific format, such as a formal statement of denial.  The Court also clarified that the denial must be communicated about the same time as the denial is made.  ... Continue Reading

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tags: Cell Towers, Telecommunications Act of 1996,

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