SCOCAblog by the California Constitution Center and the Hastings Law Journal

Cities Can Stem the Tide of Short-Term Coastal Rental Homes

Cities Can Stem the Tide of Short-Term Coastal Rental Homes

Overview The growing popularity of online rental platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway has increased short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods in California, especially along the coast.[1] Short-term rentals can lead to increased noise, trash, disorderly conduct, traffic congestion, and can deplete long-term rental housing in neighborhoods where they exist.[2] The city of Del Mar recently acted on this issue by passing an ordinance restricting short-term rentals in residential areas.[3] The Coastal Commission rejected the ordinance, contending that it impermissibly restricted public access to the coast.[4] Del Mar filed a writ petition to clarify the Coastal Commission’s authority to reject the proposed...

Opinion Analysis: Sierra Club v. City of Fresno S219783

Opinion Analysis: Sierra Club v. City of Fresno S219783

In this recent unanimous opinion (authored by Justice Chin) the California Supreme Court clarified the standard of review for a claim that an Environment Impact Report (EIR) inadequately discusses an issue required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Although this issue and its discussion were framed within the specialized area of CEQA law, the court’s opinion is significant to the appellate standard of review and a court’s role in reviewing expert scientific findings. I had the opportunity to be one of the mock justices in a moot court oral argument presented by the plaintiffs, as part of the California...

AB 2923 is Constitutional, but Cities Will Find Ways Combat Dense Zoning

AB 2923 is Constitutional, but Cities Will Find Ways Combat Dense Zoning

Overview Assembly Bill 2923, which took effect on September 30, 2018, requires the Bay Area Rapid Transit District to impose transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning guidelines near BART stations. These guidelines empower BART to create higher density residential areas than city zoning plans otherwise allow. The Senate analysis of AB 2923 stated the bill “upends” traditional city and county land use power, concluding that “granting land use authority to a local government that isn’t a municipality sets a significant precedent.”[1] This article examines the constitutional issues AB 2923 raises and the range of legal and policy responses available to its opponents,...

California SB 1300: What to Make of the Legislative Intent Provision

California SB 1300: What to Make of the Legislative Intent Provision

In September 2018, the California Legislature passed—and Governor Brown signed into law—SB 1300. That bill, which took effect on January 1 of this year, amended the Fair Employment and Housing Act to expand the scope of employer liability for nonemployee harassment, prohibit employers from using employment or raises to suppress legally damning information, and limit the circumstances for awarding defendants’ fees and costs. This article takes a closer look at the bill’s addition of section 12923, which elaborates the Legislature’s intent concerning FEHA’s anti-harassment provisions. Section 12923 contains five subsections: Subsection (a) provides that hostile work environment claims do not...

In Which We Profile and Analyze the Current SCOCA Justices

In Which We Profile and Analyze the Current SCOCA Justices

Overview Joshua Groban, Governor Jerry Brown’s final appointment to the California Supreme Court, was confirmed today by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Court watchers will be very curious to see how the new justice develops as an individual and how he interacts with the existing members. To establish a baseline for answering those questions, and to see if a larger dataset changed the results, we decided to expand on our recent analysis. Previously, we tabulated the court’s opinion and vote records during the thirteen months pro tem justices filled the vacant seat. We evaluated the impact those temporary justices had...

Governor Brown Nominates Joshua Groban to SCOCA Seat

Governor Brown Nominates Joshua Groban to SCOCA Seat

The Recorder reports that (after a head-fake to the Court of Appeal) in a surprise announcement Governor Brown has nominated the man in charge of searching for someone to fill Justice Werdegar’s empty seat to himself be that replacement: judicial appointments adviser Joshua Groban. Accordingly, our “days since Justice Werdegar’s retirement” countup clock has stopped at eighteen months.

SCOCA Year in Review 2018: Still Not the Brown Court

SCOCA Year in Review 2018: Still Not the Brown Court

OVERVIEW Ordinarily a court year-in-review article overviews significant cases and any changes in the court’s personnel. Because the California Supreme Court is currently enduring its longest-ever seat vacancy — over thirteen months and counting — we evaluated the impact pro tem justices are having on the court’s voting record. We draw several conclusions: There is a voting record distinction between the senior justices and the justices appointed by Governor Brown; The pro tem justices do not vote in lockstep with the Chief Justice or the majority; Which governor appointed a pro tem justice does not correlate with pro tem voting;...

Proposition 9 and pre-election challenges to ballot initiatives

Proposition 9 and pre-election challenges to ballot initiatives

Overview Proposition 9 (commonly referred to as Three Californias) was a proposed initiative to divide California into three smaller states.[1] The initiative received enough signatures to go on the ballot in November 2018. But in a ruling on a pre-election challenge the California Supreme Court ordered the Secretary of State to remove Proposition 9 from the ballot.[2] Proposition 9 had several flaws that likely would have doomed it in a post-election challenge.[3] But this was a pre-election attack, and courts ordinarily are reluctant to prevent measures from going on the ballot. The court’s order removing Proposition 9 from the ballot...

Opinion Analysis: People v. Buza

Opinion Analysis: People v. Buza

Overview The California Supreme Court’s recent opinion in People v. Buza (S223698) decided the constitutionality of Proposition 69 (the 2004 “DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act”) which requires law enforcement officials to collect DNA samples from all persons arrested for a felony offense.[1] The case is significant for both privacy rights and the law of search and seizure. In a sharply divided 4–3 decision the court upheld the act under both the federal and state constitutions. In its decision the California Supreme Court missed a rare opportunity to reassert the independence of the California constitution’s search and seizure...

Announcement: The Concurrence Matrix

Announcement: The Concurrence Matrix

Announcing a new data analytics tool for SCOCA watchers: a justices voting relationship matrix, available here: SCOCA Justices Concurrence Matrix Similar to the SCOTUSblog voting relationships chart on its statistics page (scroll to the bottom), this tool tracks the agreement rate of the justices relative to each other as a percentage value. The methodology is simple: any justice who concurs in the judgment counts as an “agree” in a given case even if that justice writes separately. SCOTUSblog does the same, counting agreement “in full, in part, or in judgment.” You will note that the “KW” values are grayed out....