Chatten-Brown & Carstens' (CBC) attorneys are well known for their expertise in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the premier environmental law in California. This is reflected in CBC's impressive track record of success in the administrative process, litigation, and appellate work.
CEQA requires environmental review of all government discretionary approvals of projects that may have a significant impact on the environment, covering both public and private projects, and the term project is broadly defined to include more than just physical projects. A key purpose of CEQA is to give the public a role in governmental decision-making that effects the environment, and CBC works with clients to assure that this role is meaningful.
CBC attorneys regularly advise clients regarding land use proposals and other projects subject to CEQA to ensure that any environmental impacts they would cause are sufficiently mitigated to the extent feasible. In some cases where it is not possible to mitigate impacts, the firm has been able to help its clients work with the project proponent to locate the project elsewhere, or develop a different project proposal with fewer impacts. Recently, Chatten-Brown & Carstens has focused considerable attention on use of these laws to address the problems of controlling greenhouse gases and climate change.
Frequently, on behalf of clients, Chatten-Brown & Carstens prepares comment letters on draft and final environmental review documents. When governmental agencies fail to comply with CEQA’s procedural or substantive requirements, Chatten-Brown & Carstens frequently litigates the matter. Chatten-Brown & Carstens is widely regarded as one of the top firms in the State for CEQA litigation. In all but one of its reported appellate cases involving CEQA, Chatten-Brown & Carstens has prevailed on behalf of its client, and has also done so in many Superior Court actions.
Examples of our work under CEQA include:
- Representing the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners’ Coalition, San Pedro Peninsula Homeowners United, Inc., and the Coalition for Clean Air, Inc., in a CEQA challenge to the Port of Los Angeles’ approval of a significant expansion of dock capacity for China Shipping Company without conducting environmental review. Petitioners were able to settle the litigation so that the Port committed to pay $50 million over five years for mitigation of air quality, traffic, and aesthetic impacts from terminal expansion in exchange for the right to operate the first phase of the terminal before completion of the new EIR. Natural Resources Defense Council v. City of Los Angeles (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 342.
- Using CEQA as an important tool for forcing consideration of alternatives, Chatten-Brown & Carstens played a key role in persuading three developers to become “willing sellers” to the State, so that now two State Parks are located along the Los Angeles River where large industrial complexes were proposed, and a substantial amount of acreage was added to the Baldwin Hills State Park. The Firm represented Friends of the Los Angeles River, Coalition for Clean Air, Anahuak Soccer Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council in opposing an industrial and commercial development by Lennar Corporation at the Taylor Yards, which is now the Rio De Los Angeles State Park. The Firm represented the Friends of the Los Angeles River, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Society of Los Angeles, Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, Environmental Defense, Latino Urban Forum, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Northeast Renaissance Corporation in opposing a variance and site plan review application for an industrial warehouse project iarea of Chinatown in Los Angeles referred to as the Cornfields and Riverstation, which is now the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The Firm represented the Blair Hills Residents Association, in opposing a large residential development. Because we were successful in delaying commencement of the project, the State was able to use Proposition 12 funds to acquire the 65 acres for addition to the State Park in Baldwin Hills.